Asylum

How to apply for asylum in Greece?

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Greece has shown a great solidarity and sensitivity with the thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, who seek security on its borders. In 2022, for example, more than 74,000 people arrived in the territory to process international protection; and, for the most part, they were welcomed while they waited for the answer to the case.

The aforementioned is attributed to the fact that Greece has multiple ways to access; and therefore it is the fastest option for those who want to start a new life in Europe. However, the demand for help has capacity exceeded of the nation; and, that is why, increasingly, waiting times are lengthening.

Greece has more than a million immigrants, which represents 11% of the total population. The majority of foreigners come mainly from Albania, Georgia, Egypt, Turkey, Romania and Syria. Keep reading and discover how to be part of this list.

First considerations for requesting protection in Greece

You will have the right to apply for asylum in Greece if you are at its borders or within its territory and your life is at risk in your country of origin, either because of persecution or discrimination. So, do not waste time and go as soon as possible to the competent immigration services.

The places where you can apply are: the Independent Asylum Stations and the Asylum Service Stairways, located in the reception and identification centers. The petition may include your family members, as long as they accompany you at the time.

It should be noted that the police can also accept your request, but ultimately the information will be in the hands of the above mentioned entities. And one of the Greek policies is that if you initiate the case at the police station, they will have to provide you with the first response, which will make the procedure longer.

Submit only truthful information, because if falsehoods are detected in the documents, as it is a crime, you could be arrested. This would eventually lead to your deportation and consequent restrictions on entry into the territory.

Procedure for making an asylum request in Greece

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When submitting the request to the authorities, a complete record will be prepared and all the necessary information will be collected. You will be able to start the process electronically, through the self-registration application, by clicking here.

However, if you do not have any kind of document proving who you are, you should go to the places mentioned above. There they will tell you where you should go to the Reception and Identification Center. You will then be sent to the competent Regional Asylum Office, and finally you will be assigned to a Reception and Identification Center.

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Your stay at the center will depend on how long the immigration process takes, which can vary from 20 to 180 days. So, arm yourself with patience and focus only on following the steps outlined below:

Step 1. Record

You will provide information such as: identity document, country of origin, names of parents, spouse and children, e-mail address and biometric information. In addition, you are required to declare, in detail, the reasons that led you to emigrate from your country.

On the other hand, you will indicate the address of residence, and the language in which you want the application to be processed. At the end of the registration process, you will be informed of the date on which you must submit your formal asylum application.

Step 2. Interview

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The Asylum Service will give you the date of the interview. The information you provide at this meeting will be completely confidential; that is, it will not be disclosed to any government agency or individuals associated with your country of origin, as this could cause you serious harm.

It will be essential that you answer the questions honestly to avoid sanctions and case closure. You will also be ensuring that communication is optimal; remember that you will have the right to have a qualified interpreter present during the interview.

If necessary, you may request, through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), legal assistance in preparing for the meeting. However, if you wish to have a lawyer present on the day of the interview, you should be aware that you will be responsible for their fees.

Step 3. Presentation of the asylum application

Once your application submission is complete, you will receive the International Protection Applicant (SCI)which will be valid for 30 days to a year. It gives you the right to stay in Greece until the evaluation of the case is completed.

This is a temporary permit that provides rights and imposes specific obligations; and, it should be noted, that it is not equivalent to a residence permit. Keep in mind that, due to the high demand for protection, the decision on your request will take longer than the agreed period, so you will have to renew the SCI card.

NOTE: If you are a younger (<18 years old), unaccompanied by a family member or responsible adult, the competent prosecutor’s office will be informed so that it assigns a commissioner in charge that defends your interests in the rest of the process. But, you will be able to present the asylum request by yourself if you have more than 15 years.

Step 4. affirmative decision

If the decision is affirmative and Greece grants you refugee status, you will be able to obtain a residence permit for three years. In addition, you will receive a travel document to visit other EU countries for a maximum period of up to 90 days.

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On the other hand, if the decision is affirmative for subsidiary protection, the residence permit will be valid for only one year. However, you will have the option to renew it for another 24 months, after review and approval.

The residence permit, regardless of how long it is valid, grants:

  • Right to access the labor market
  • Education
  • Social security
  • Health care

all under the same terms that apply to greek citizens. However, if you are granted the refugee statusyou will enjoy other rights such as:

  • Requesting family reunification, under certain conditions
  • Start one’s own business
  • Apply for Greek citizenship. To find out the procedure and conditions for its acquisition, contact the competent Ministry of Interior or consult here.

On the other hand, a refugee has an obligation to participate in the social inclusion programs. And according to Greek law, the status granted, can be revoked Yes:

  • You regain the protection of your country of origin.
  • You falsify documents.
  • You endanger the national security of the country

Step #5. negative decision

If your application was rejected or you were granted subsidiary protection status and you do not agree with the decisionyou can go to the Appeals Chamber. You must file the appeal with the Regional Asylum Office or the Independent Asylum Scale that issued the rejection decision. You will find the deadline for this in the reply notification received.

Upon filing an appeal, a other proof of international protection. The Asylum Service has a registration of lawyers that will help you, free of charge, during the resource evaluation In second instance.

In the event that the Independent Appeals Committee decides invite you to an interviewThey must inform you no later than 10 days before of the interview date. Your lawyer will have the right to go to the Board of Appeal. Then the same will make the decision to grant refugee status, subsidiary protection or reject both.

The appeal decision may be extended maximum three months, depending on the case. Now if your request is rejected on second instancethen you will be taken to a Detention center and the Independent Appeals Committee will issue a decision for you to return to your country. For more detailed information on the second instance asylum procedure, see here.

Rights and duties as an asylum seeker

It’s fundamental understand the duties and rights; since, from them derive many of the final decisions to apply during your application. Here are the most relevant:

RightsDuties
To remain in Greece and not be deported until the application is completed.Always carry with you the International Protection Applicant Card (SCI).
Move freely throughout the Greek territory.Do not leave Greece, except under strict circumstances and after notification.
Be informed, in a language you understand, about the progress of your application.Do not bring your family to Greece, from your country of origin.
Return to your homeland voluntarily.Request authorization to leave the country.
Receive legal, medical and psychological assistance.Immediately inform the Asylum Service of your address and contact information; as well as, of any change.
Receive accommodation, if you cannot afford one.Inform about your true economic situation in case you enjoy State benefits.
Disability allowance, if it is not possible for you to stay in a Hospitality Center.
Work under the conditions established by Greek law, six months after the date of submission of the application.

In short, Greece has a well-established procedure for applicants for international protection and works to provide the best conditions for applicants and refugees, welcoming them in the most humane manner possible. However, at times, the high number of applications somewhat overshadows the effort that the nation constantly makes.

If you are looking for international protection, Greece is undoubtedly an excellent option. Considering that you will be able to work in a period of only six months, once you start the process. Say goodbye to harassment and persecution and start a new life full of calm and peace.

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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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