The German government wants to temporarily ease visa restrictions for survivors of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria who have close family ties to Germany if they are facing homelessness or were injured.
"It's about helping in times of need. We want to make it possible for Turkish or Syrian families in Germany to bring close relatives from the disaster region," German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser tweeted late Saturday.
"They can find shelter with us and receive medical treatment," Faeser said. "With regular visas, which are issued quickly and are valid for three months."
However, not all the requirements of a regular visa procedure are being waived. Applicants must still be able to present a valid passport — likely to be an obstacle for people who fled collapsing buildings.
Several million people in Germany have Turkish roots because, more than 60 years ago, West Germany recruited "guest workers" from Turkey and elsewhere to help the country advance economically.
More recently, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees came to Germany looking for safety from the brutal civil war back home.
Turkish and Syrian immigrants in Germany have been collecting aid, sending donations and worrying for their relatives back home. Calls to allow them to take in close family members from the devastated regions had been growing for days.
The German government said it would ease the normally very strict and bureaucratic visa conditions quickly, adding that the foreign ministry had already both increased its staff in Turkey and redeployed capacity at visa acceptance centers there.
Earthquake victims who wish to seek refuge in Germany and want to apply for a three-month visa need to prove that they have close family members in Germany who have German citizenship or a permanent right of residence, German news agency dpa reported.
The German host family member must submit a declaration promising to pay for the living expenses and subsequent departure of the person taken in.