*The following process also applies to Ukrainian nationals that have been rejected and haven’t obtained the Temporary Protection status.
🔳 About asylum
Asylum is when a country grants protection on its territory to people from another country fleeing persecution or danger. You have the right to seek asylum if you need international protection, no matter your country of origin. You have the right to stay in Greece until you get a final decision on your asylum application. Whether you plan to stay in Greece or move on to another country through Family Reunification, you must register with the Greek Asylum Service.
When you cross the land border into Greece, you have the right to seek asylum. You will first have to register your details, but this procedure can differ depending on how close you are to a Reception and Identification Center (RIC) when you arrive.
⬜ First Reception Procedure with the police
The army and the border police control Greece’s land border. When you arrive in areas of Greece close to the land border where a Reception and Identification Center (RIC) doesn’t exist, the police are in charge of your initial identification process.
It’s highly possible that you will get arrested for illegally crossing the land border and be detained at a police station. These detention facilities are usually small and in very poor condition. The police must provide a written detention decision explaining why you are detained. You have the right to ask the police to translate/explain key points of the decision in a language you understand.
During your detention, you have the following rights:
- to be visited by relatives and your lawyer. Friends can bring any clothes or money you may need and give them to the police to hand them to you
- to consult a lawyer and have legal assistance
- to have access to telephone
- to have access to medical services and ask for a doctor
- to have daily access to a courtyard area
- to have your own separate bed, free personal hygiene items (shampoo, toothpaste, sanitary towels) and clean sheets and blankets
- If you are a woman, to be held separately from any men unless they are your family members and you consent to be together
- to be treated with respect. Ill-treatment of detainees, as well as any behaviour or act of racism, discrimination or xenophobia, is forbidden by law.
Upon arrest, you may be held, initially, for up to 50 days. This period of 50 days can be extended for another 50 days and a maximum of up to 18 months. Nevertheless, if your legal status changes in the meantime, this period can be extended even for longer than 18 months. The duration of detention depends on various criteria. For example, if you come from a country where deportation is possible or are believed to be a danger to public order. If your deportation decision is suspended, detention will not continue, but you may need to follow other restrictive measures.
During the detention, you have the right to appeal against the deportation decision and detention decision, and you also have the right to consult a lawyer. The police will check your identity and nationality, take your fingerprints and conduct a security screening.It’s at this stage that you can:
- Express your wish to apply for asylum in Greece.
- Express your interest in Family Reunification if you have relatives in another European country.
The police should register your willingness to seek asylum and inform the Asylum Service as soon as possible to give you an appointment for Registration. If you are released before the asylum service gives you a day for the Registration appointment, you will receive a Police Note, and there will be a deadline to appear before the Asylum Service and complete your Registration.
Note that under certain circumstances and according to the law, the detention can continue even after applying for asylum. This depends on the evaluation of your case by the police and only if no other restrictive measures could have been applied. Remember that during the detention, you have the right to appeal against the detention decision, and you also have the right to consult a lawyer.
⬜ First Reception Procedure at the Fylakio Center
The only RIC currently in mainland Greece is Fylakio, close to the land border in Evros in Northern Greece, with a limited capacity of 240 people.
When you enter Greece through the land border in Evros, you will be placed at the Fylakio centre to undergo the Reception and Identification Procedure.
Fylakio centre is a closed detention facility. You will not be allowed to move in and out of it until you complete the Reception and Identification Procedure and Registration at the Asylum Service Office, which is located inside the RIC. According to Greek law, the period of detention in the RIC should not exceed 25 days, but in practice, this period varies.
If you did not register your application for international protection at the Reception and Identification Centres at Fylakio, you could book an appointment to register your application in mainland Greece via an application form provided by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum. An email address is necessary to log in, submit the application with your details and be given an appointment for registration. You can choose to be registered either at the Facility of First Reception in Diavata (close to Thessaloniki) or the one in Malakasa (“Gerakini” camp close to Athens). After submitting your application, make sure to click on “download proof” so that a pdf file with the confirmation of your appointment can be sent to your email address.
When completing the application for the registration appointment, you will also be informed that upon arrival at the registration location, you will be required to reside in the facility “until the registration is completed, for a maximum of 25 days”. Since the asylum interview might also occur during the time that you will have to reside in the First Reception camps of Malakasa or Diavata, it could be helpful to contact legal actors and have legal information about the asylum procedure before your appointment. You have the right to reschedule your appointment for registration up to 2 times, according to the Ministry of Migration and Asylum. Remember to always keep relevant documents which prove that you could not be there for your appointment (e.g. medical or other documents) and share them as soon as possible with the greek authorities.
RECEPTION AND IDENTIFICATION PROCEDURE
⬜ Unaccompanied children - People under 18 years old
If you are under 18 and travelling alone, you can seek help.
⬜ Age Assessment
If an employee of the Reception and Identification Center (RIC) or a police officer doubts about you being under 18 years old, he/she has to start an age assessment procedure.
The age assessment procedure includes a medical examination by a general practitioner or paediatrician, a psychologist and a social worker and an examination by ex-rays, depending on how difficult is to determine the age. In every stage of the procedure, you have the right to get informed about the procedure that will be followed and its results in a language you understand. The results should be notified to you in the end. If you do not agree with the results of the age assessment, you have 15 days to appeal. In that case, it is better to consult a lawyer.
If your interview takes place before your age assessment has been finalised, make sure to mention that the Greek Asylum Service case worker is assessing your age at the beginning of your interview. Depending on the case, your interview will continue or be postponed to a later stage.
🔳 WHEN YOU ARRIVE on a Greek Land border
Once you get an appointment for your registration, you will be notified about the procedure you need to follow to receive the asylum seeker card in smart card format that will have your case number, as well as your temporary social security number (PAYYPA), the date of issuance and period of validity (one month or six months).
If you are in Greece and your close family member lives legally in another European country, you may be able to join them.
FAMILY REUNIFICATION IN OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
Six months after the date of full registration, you will be eligible to work.
Next, you will have an interview with the Asylum Service. Depending on your country of origin, the interview will be either to assess if Turkey is a safe country for you (so-called “admissibility interview”) or to decide if you will receive refugee status or subsidiary protection or be denied asylum (so-called “eligibility interview”). You will also undergo an admissibility interview if you arrive in Greece via Albania or Northern Macedonia, regardless of your origin.
If you come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia or Syria, the Greek Asylum Service will first ask questions to find out if Turkey is a safe third country for you. If you entered Greece from the borders with Albania or Northern Macedonia, questions would concern your safety in case you are returned to those countries. You will only be asked a few questions about your country of origin (for example, years of education/work, relatives staying there etc). This means that you have to be prepared to talk about Turkey (Albania or Northern Macedonia, depending on the country from which you entered Greece) in detail in your first interview. Questions will include the duration of your stay if you applied for asylum there, the reasons why you left that country and why you are afraid to go back there (Turkey, Albania and Northern Macedonia, respectively). Make sure to explain all health issues you might suffer from and what this means in your daily life. You should mention all the problems you faced in Turkey, Albania or Northern Macedonia and particularly incidents of persecution or any violent or traumatizing experiences you went through there or during your trip.
If you were detained in Turkey, Albania or Northern Macedonia and threatened with deportation, it is also very important to discuss it in detail with the case worker. Finally, state any specific examples of problems you might face if you move to one of these countries. In case the Asylum Services finds that Turkey, Albania or Northern Macedonia is not safe for you, you will have a separate interview, at a later date, about the reasons why you left your home country. Also, according to EU and Greek legislation, if they do not take you back a return, it cannot be considered safe for you, and Greece should invite you to an interview about the reasons why you left your home country.
🟢 NOTIFICATION OF THE DECISION - POSITIVE DECISION 🟢
Make sure your up-to-date contact information
⬜ RESIDENCE PERMIT (ADET)
Together with your decision that grants you international protection, you will also receive the decision for the issuing of a Residence Permit (ADET). If an asylum office publishes your decision on an island and you have moved to the mainland, you need to reach the nearest asylum office and ask them to contact the asylum office on an island to send your decision to the mainland office. You will likely wait 3 months or more until you get your RESIDENCE PERMIT (ADET) card.
To receive the Residence permit (ADET), you need to make an appointment at the police station for fingerprints and submission of the necessary documents, including a valid international protection applicant’s card.
⬜ TRAVEL DOCUMENTS (TDV)
Now, you can apply for your Travel Document as soon as you get a positive decision on your asylum case, which means that you have been granted refugee status and have received the residence permit (ADET). If you have received subsidiary protection, you can apply for travel docs but NOT IN ALL CASES, as this depends on the nationality. To apply for a Travel Document (TDV or passport), you must make an appointment at the passport police station's police station. It will take 8-9 months for your passport (travel document) to be ready, and you will collect it from the asylum service.
⬜ SOCIAL INSURANCE (PAAYPA to AMKA)
On your asylum card, there will be your PAAYPA number. When granted international protection, your PAAYPA number will be turned into an AMKA number. We recommend you highlight to the Asylum Service to initiate the process of converting PAAYPA to AMKA, as there are cases of delays due to this miscommunication between services.
SOCIAL INSURANCE (PAAYPA OR AMKA)
⬜ BRING YOUR FAMILY
Now that you have recognised refugee status, you also have the right to bring your family from your country of origin.
⬜ CASH ASSISTANCE
You can continue to access the cash assistance program for a limited time after you get asylum.
⭕NOTIFICATION OF THE DECISION - NEGATIVE DECISION ⭕
Make sure your up-to-date contact information
⬜ APPEAL THE DECISION
In case you receive a negative decision on your asylum application you have the right to appeal but within a certain period that is clarified on your decision. This process can be done ONLY with legal support. You can request legal aid by completing this form online.
On mainland Greece, if your asylum file is processed with the regular procedure and you had an eligibility interview, the deadline to appeal is 30 days, while 20 days in case you had an admissibility interview. If your file is processed with the fast-track procedure, the deadline to appeal is 20 days from the day the Greek Asylum Service notifies you of the decision.
On the Greek islands, if you get a negative answer after admissibility or an eligibility interview, you have 10 days to appeal. If you appeal against the decision that rejected your asylum application, you receive back your asylum seeker’s card and a document with the date of the examination of your appeal before the Appeals Authority in Athens.
APPEALING YOUR ASYLUM DECISION IN GREECE-FIRST-INSTANCE APPEALS
⬜ POSITIVE DECISION ON YOUR APPEAL
⬆️ If you receive a positive decision on your appeal, go up to step "POSITIVE DECISION" to see the next steps ⬆️
⬜ NEGATIVE DECISION ON YOUR APPEAL
In case you receive a negative decision on your appeal, you can submit an application of annulment within 30 days before the competent Administrative Court of First Instance. This is a court procedure, and you need to be represented by a lawyer on your expenses or by applying for free legal aid at the Court.
APPEALING YOUR ASYLUM DECISION IN GREECE-SECOND-INSTANCE APPEALS
⬜ DEPORTATION OR READMISSION
In case of a second negative decision, you might be granted a certain period to leave Greece and voluntarily return to your country of origin or Turkey, depending on the procedure you went through. Otherwise, in case of a police check, you will be detained and deported.
You can also ask for help going home safely through Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration.
ASSISTED VOLUNTARY RETURN AND REINTEGRATION
🔳 GENERAL INFORMATION
Keep your documents with you at all times. Important documents include, among others, your asylum seeker's card, your Passport, Birth certificate, and Marriage certificate. As an extra safety measure, take photos of your documents and send them to someone you trust.
Types of asylum
If your application is successful, you will either receive one of two kinds of protection: Refugee status (full asylum) or Subsidiary protection. Whether you get refugee status or subsidiary protection, you usually cannot go to another European Union country and ask for asylum there. If you do, you may be returned to Greece.
These two statuses give you slightly different rights.
A) Refugee status (full asylum) Refugee status is for people who face persecution in their country of origin because of their:
- Membership in a certain social group
- Political opinion
People who have refugee status get:
- A Residence Permit that is valid for three years
- The right to apply for a Travel Document
- The right to bring family from their country of origin to Greece
People with refugee status cannot Travel to their country of origin without the risk of losing their refugee status
B) Subsidiary protection (partial asylum) Subsidiary protection is for people who do not qualify for refugee status but face serious harm if they return to their country of origin. “Serious harm” is:
- Death penalty or execution
- Inhuman or degrading treatment
- Serious and personal threat to a civilian's life or physical integrity due to indiscriminate use of force in situations of international or domestic armed conflict.
People with subsidiary protection get:
- A Residence Permit that is valid for one year.
- The right to apply for a Travel Document if they can’t get a passport from their own country or their national embassy in Greece.
People who get subsidiary protection cannot:
- Bring family from their country of origin to Greece
- People with subsidiary protection are not restricted from travelling to their home country but could risk losing their status in Greece if they go back, depending on their specific case.
Renew your asylum card every 6 months - or sometimes every 1 month. You can find the card's duration and date of issuance on your asylum seeker's card.
Renew your subsidiary protection residence permit every 1 year - the date is indicated on the card.
Renew your refugee status residence permit every 3 years – the date is indicated on the card. Start 6 months in advance the application for the renewal.
HOW TO BRING YOUR FAMILY TO GREECE
ASSISTED VOLUNTARY RETURN AND REINTEGRATION