Activists protested today (Fri) in front of the chancellory in Vienna over what they claim are "unusable" new laws for migrants.

Philipp Sonderegger from non-governmental organisation SOS Mitmensch said activists had cut apart chairs in front of the chancellery to make them unusable - just like laws on migrants’ right to remain in Austria which came into force on 1 April.

The platform "Right to Remain" said only 400 people of the thousands who had applied for it had been given permission to remain in Austria on humanitarian grounds since 1 April.

The platform said: "The law has not provided a solution for people who have lived here for a long time without legal permission."

It added the special advisory council set up by the Interior Ministry had considered only four migrants’ cases because security authorities had the right to pre-screen which ones it would examine.

The platform also criticised People’s Party (ÖVP) Interior Minister Maria Fekter’s plans to deport asylum applicants during ongoing asylum proceedings.

The new law also disqualifies migrants who arrived in Austria after 1 May 2004 from a special right to remain in the country on humanitarian grounds.

Only those who entered Austria before that date, have lived in the country since their arrival and have a quasi-legal claim to residence, are eligible to receive permission to remain on humanitarian grounds.

Such people can apply to the government of the province they are living in for permission to remain on humanitarian grounds. If the provincial government grants it, the case is referred to the Interior Ministry for its approval within two months.