Asylum

How to apply for asylum in Armenia?

Armenia is positioned as one of the main countries concentrating its efforts to improve its asylum procedures, in order to support refugees and protection seekers in accordance with international standards. Hence, the nation’s system currently provides legal assistance, advice and multiple social benefits, which attracted more than 35 thousand people of various nationalities by the end of 2021.

Part of this movement is due to the fact that in 2008 the State created the National Law on Asylum for Refugees in which it added five new humanitarian reasons to protect applicants. In addition, to incorporate some relevant aspects of the Convention for the Recognition of Refugees of 1951, such as: widespread violations of human rights, violence, external attack, internal conflicts and serious violations of public order.

First considerations to apply for help in Armenia

As a security measure, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Armenia has implemented a new asylum application mechanism regarding the initiation process. The most suitable way is through the following electronic means:

Asylum application in Armenia

Through both channels you can indicate to the migration authorities your wishes to apply for international protection in the country, with your data, documents and a brief explanation in Armenian, Spanish, English, Russian, French, Chinese or Arabic. However, if you do not have electronic equipment for this, you can also visit the authorized centers for this: Migration Service, National Police and penitentiary institutions, some addresses are:

  • Bavra (land border between Armenia and Georgia)
  • Bagratashen (land border between Armenia and Georgia)
  • Meghri (Armenia and Iran land border)
  • Ayrum (Armenian-Georgian rail border point)
  • Gogavan (land border between Armenia and Georgia)
  • Zvartnots and Shirak Airport

Likewise, it is necessary to note that Armenia only processes asylum applications if there are elements that demonstrate persecution of individuals, either for political reasons, religion, nationality, or for belonging to a certain social group. It also considers death threats, widespread violence in a country, foreign aggression, or internal conflicts and social unrest.

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Procedure for making an asylum request in Armenia

If the reasons why you were forced to leave your country meet the above, then you can follow the steps below to find help on Armenian territory. They are valid both for those who enter legally and illegally, although for the latter condition there may be detention by the authorities for a maximum of 72 hours.

Step 1. Interview

Once the registration of the application has been completed by any of the means described in the previous section, an official will indicate the date and time of the interview to which you must attend in a timely manner. This meeting seeks to know the reasons for leaving your country of origin and the supports for it if possible; therefore, you must answer all the questions of the immigration staff. In other words, it provides detailed and chronologically correct information.

Procedure for making an asylum request in Armenia

It should be noted that you have the right to request, if necessary, an interpreter of your native language and a legal representative. Similarly, a copy of the minutes of the interview statement, which you must read carefully and indicate corrections if any point does not coincide with what was discussed. Keep in mind that all the information handled in this meeting is confidential, that is, it will not be shared with the authorities of your country.

If for any reason you do not show up for the interview, the Migration Service may decide to cancel the application automatically. In this sense, it is advisable to inform the Migration Service, at least one day before the interview, that you will not be able to attend so that it can be scheduled.

Step 1. Decision

If the information provided to the Migration Service is sufficient and consciously founded, a favorable decision on the refugee request may be made on the same day of the interview. This confirms once again the importance of providing elements that support the request for international protection in Armenia.

Otherwise, the Migration Service has, as established by law, three months to make a decision after the asylum application is submitted, with a valid extension of six months. Everything depends on the clarity with which the arguments are presented on the day of the interview and their support, to define whether they accept or deny refuge to the petitioner.

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Acceptance or denial of the request

When the decision is positive, it means that refugee status is granted to the applicant, while if negative, the individual is obliged to leave Armenia. However, there is an appeal procedure before the courts through legal assistance and a legal representative granted by the Public Defender’s Office. For more information see here.

The reasons why the Migration Service may not recognize someone as a refugee are: if there is reason to believe that you have committed a crime or other serious offense inside or outside Armenia, or have been found guilty of actions that are contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. It is also a reason for refusal of protection if you already enjoy this aid in another country.

Accelerated procedure for granting asylum

This process is generally associated with the direct denial of the request, since it is the method that officials have to quickly determine if the applicant does not comply with the provisions of the National Asylum Law. The most frequent cases are:

  • The reasons for the request are not based on the framework of persecution, discrimination, violence or internal problems in the country of origin.
  • This is a second request, after the rejection notification.

This procedure has a term of 10 business days to issue a decision, with a maximum extension of one month. During this period, applicants have the same rights and duties as a regular petitioner.

When does the accelerated procedure not apply?

The accelerated procedure cannot be applied to you if you are an asylum seeker with special needs. Exempt persons are:

  • Asylum-seeking or refugee children.
  • People with disabilities.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Single fathers or mothers with minor children.
  • People with serious illnesses (with medical support)
  • People with mental health problems.
  • Survivors of trafficking, torture or other forms of violence.

Rights and duties as an asylum seeker

Armenia, in favor of supporting asylum seekers, has established a set of rights and obligations while the Migration Service resolves the case, without being expelled to their countries of origin. They are:

RightsHomework
Legal residence permit for the entire period of the application and appeal process.Respect the laws and authorities of Armenia.
To be assigned to a reception center, where you will enjoy food, room and medical assistance.Cooperate with the authorities, providing them with all the information they require.
Free movement within the territory of Armenia.Carry the identification card as an applicant, in good condition and valid.
Not to incur criminal or administrative responsibility for illegally entering Armenian territory.Respect and comply with the rules of the reception center to which he was assigned.
Participate in the educational system of Armenia, and exercise their right to education.Pay taxes, tariffs or any rate that applies in Armenia.
Work freely throughout the national territory, except for public positions.Attend the interview on the agreed date and time.
Identification card as they apply for asylum.Do not leave the national territory during the time your application is in process.

It can be said that Armenia is one of the nations with the most benefits for refugees, such as work, identification, education, housing and public health. Therefore, if you are persecuted, violated or discriminated against, in this beautiful country you can find the quality of life you need.

Maya Martinez

Legal advisor for immigration processes. In addition to providing support in the legal procedures, I offer integral and informative support in relation to the obligations that are acquired when arriving to a new country.

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