How to apply for asylum in Croatia?

Croatia is a country with thousands of islands, which are attractive to both tourists and those who flee their countries due to discrimination, violence, political and social conflicts, etc. Without a doubt, it is one of the most sought-after nations in Western Europe to apply for political asylum.

According to the records, Croatia since 2013 grants refugee status to citizens of all countries of the world in great magnitude. Fact that prompted the government to adopt the Refugee Law and replace the International and Temporary Protection Law, in 2015, with the purpose of providing more benefits to applicants.

By 2021, Croatia received 2,460 asylum applications, the majority being foreigners from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. The acceptance percentage is approximately 25%, which represents an important number for the continent’s refugee system.

First considerations to apply for help in Croatia

The most important aspect to consider when requesting protection in Croatia is to have valid reasons for it, based on what is established in the Geneva Convention regarding the term “refugee”. It indicates that it is any person who is forced to flee their country of origin, because they do not have protection from security agencies and, therefore, their physical, moral and mental integrity is in danger in the territory.

The most frequent reasons are discrimination and violence due to racial, political, religious and gender issues. Social conflicts can also be considered for the acceptance of asylum in Croatia. However, government fraud, economic crisis, antisocial behavior and actions are not valid for the process.

Asylum application in Croatia

Types of protection provided by Croatia

Although in general, when talking about international protection, reference is made to the refugee status of foreigners in a specific country. Now, in the case of Croatia, there are three types of aid, which are:

  1. Refugee status. Applies when the reasons for leaving the country of birth are due to persecution. The causes must be precisely founded, such as, for example: issues of race, religion, political ideologies.
  2. Subsidiary protection. In this case, the fear of returning to the country of origin is due to threats, the death penalty, inhuman or degrading punishment. In other words, it is associated with the benefit of generalized violence.
  3. Temporary protection. It only applies in specific situations for people who come from specific nations. For example, on March 8, 2022, the Croatian government decided to approve this status for Ukrainians, due to conflicts with Russia.
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Procedure for making an asylum request in Croatia

You can apply for asylum as soon as you enter Croatia, at one of its border crossings and before any police authority, or at the Foreigners’ Reception Center (CAE). Likewise, you can make a phone call to indicate the desire to start the international protection process, the numbers are:

  • General emergency number: 112
  • 192 – police
  • 193 – fire department
  • 194 – ambulance
  • 195 – search and rescue at sea
  • 1987 – roadside assistance

Step 1. Record

After indicating to the authorities the desire to start the asylum process, an officer will proceed to make a statement and the complete registration. To do this, the official will take fingerprints and a photograph, which will then be sent to the Ministry of the Interior so that the agency issues the respective certificate, within a maximum period of 48 hours.

Procedure for making an asylum request in Croatia

It should be noted that if you are under 18 years of age and you are alone in Croatia, you must inform the relevant authorities as soon as possible so that they can assign a guardian. This person will be in charge of protecting your rights during the asylum procedure.

Step 2. Interview

Upon completing the registration in the previous step, you will be assigned to a Reception Center for Asylum Seekers, which is the place where you will receive all the notifications associated with the process. The first is a call for an interview to proceed with the application formally. During the meeting you have the right to an interpreter of your native language, since you must indicate in detail the route of entry into the country, reasons for the request and personal data.

The case will be processed by a state attorney accompanied by officials from a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), in order to provide the necessary legal advice; although those who have sufficient economic resources have the right to hire a private professional. At all times you have the right to legal information related to your request.

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Step 3. Assignment of identity document

Subsequently, the Ministry of the Interior will issue you an asylum seeker identity card (DNI) that you must always carry with you until the case is resolved. The term for delivery of said document shall not exceed three business days.

Step 4. Decision

Final resolution can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of each case. However, the law establishes that the asylum application must be resolved within the first six months from the date on which Croatia became responsible for the process, with a maximum extension of 15 more months.

Keep in mind that if your country of origin is considered safe, then the request will be resolved in an accelerated procedure, within a maximum period of two months. Said nations correspond to those that have a democratic system of government, without complaints of persecution, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, without threat of violence or armed conflict. Some are: Algeria, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Morocco, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Tunisia.

Rights and duties as an asylum seeker

However, if the decision is positive, you will receive an urgent residence permit for a period not exceeding 5 years, which will be analyzed three years later. This is done in order to find out if the circumstances that led you to leave the country of origin have changed and if an extension of protection applies.

If the decision is negative, you can apply for an appeal, either with a private or state lawyer at no cost. The idea is to request a new evaluation of the case before the courts.

Rights and duties as an asylum seeker

Every asylum seeker in Croatia is obliged to comply with the duties and rights established by the State. Just in this way, you will make the most of the benefits you have during the resolution of the case and avoid incurring crimes that affect the petition. They are:

Remain legally in Croatia for the entire period of the application and appeal process, regardless of the form of entry.Respect the laws and authorities of Croatia.
Live in a reception center and enjoy food, room and medical assistance.Contribute to the Croatian authorities with all the information they require.
After 25 days in a row in a Reception Center, the applicant is entitled to a monthly cash allowance of 100 HRK.If you have a high socioeconomic level, pay the accommodation costs at the Reception Center.
Apply for a job after nine months of filing the asylum application with the Ministry of the Interior.Inform the asylum office immediately whenever you decide to change your residence.
Receive emergency medical assistance and education like any resident born in Croatia.Stay in Croatia for the duration of your active application.
Receive reimbursement for public transportation expenses incurred during the asylum granting procedure.

In short, Croatia is an excellent nation to seek international protection when suffering from violence, discrimination or persecution in the country of origin. And it is that in addition to the benefits, it also has great hospitality from its inhabitants and incomparable landscapes with natural resources that transmit peace and harmony for a warm life.

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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