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🔳 Starting the asylum process
Anyone who needs international protection from persecution or danger can seek asylum in Greece. Whether you plan to stay in Greece or want to be reunified with family members through Family Reunification, you must register your application with the Greek Asylum Service. According to European legislation, the country through which you are entering the European Union is competent to assess your application for international protection. This means that, as a rule, if you apply for international protection in Greece, you cannot do so again in another European Member State. Keep in mind that If you don’t apply for asylum and do not possess any other legal document in Greece, you are not legally residing in the country and might receive a detention decision in view of deportation. In detention, you still have the right to apply for asylum in Greece. If the police release you before applying for asylum, you will receive a police note giving you a deadline to leave Greece voluntarily. Also, the police note might indicate where you are allowed to move.
Important note: 10-Year Residence Permit for Unaccompanied Minors, Applications are now open!
The Ministry of Asylum and Migration Greece has announced a 10-year Residence Permit option for Unaccompanied Minors. Check the criteria and the application process, in this article.
What are you rights in immigration detention centers?
🔳 THE ASYLUM PROCEDURE - The Steps
⬜ ASYLUM APPLICATION
According to Greek law, once you cross to Greece from either the land or the sea border, you should express your will to apply for international protection as soon as possible.
Arriving on the islands
At the sea borders of Greece, there are Reception and Identification Centres (Lesvos, Chios) and Closed Controlled Access Centers of Islands (Samos, Leros and Kos) where you can apply for international protection. Depending on which of the abovementioned locations you arrive at, registration appointments are given, as a rule, within some days from your arrival. Until that appointment, you will go through the reception and identification procedures, which include a nationality check, medical test and fingerprinting. After completing this procedure, you will be given a police note.
If you arrive on the islands, you will, as a rule, be imposed with a geographical restriction which obliges you to remain on the island where you arrived. According to the newest applicable law, unaccompanied minors under the age of 15 and minors who are victims of human trafficking, torture, rape, or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence shall be exempted from the border procedure. However, if certain conditions apply, such as their country of origin is designated as safe (Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Gambia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Albania, Georgia, India and Armenia) or if they have submitted a subsequent asylum application, their application might also be examined according to the border procedure.
Vulnerable persons needing unique procedural guarantees may as well be exempted by the island border procedure when adequate support cannot be provided to them. This can happen following a lift of the geographical restriction by RIS and a referral to the regular procedure by the Asylum Service. In practice, it mainly concerns severe health issues that cannot be treated on the islands.
Arriving on the mainland
If you arrive via the mainland, you might be transferred by the Police to the Reception and Identification Centre of Filakio (Evros region) in order to proceed with lodging your asylum application and go through the reception and identification procedures.
Newly arrived persons who find themselves on the mainland and have not registered their applications for asylum at the Reception and Identification Centres or the Closed Controlled Access Centers of Islands can book an appointment to register their application for international protection 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 personal details and be given an appointment for registration. In case you went through, you registered your willingness to apply for asylum before the police, and you have a police note, you can add the relevant number to the form. You can choose to be registered either at the Reception and Identification Centre 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 take place 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 always to 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.
Please be aware that this process is intended for citizens of third countries who wish to apply for international protection in Greece. Please note that this process does not apply to:
- Citizens of third countries who have already submitted an asylum request.
- Unaccompanied minors.
- Criminal prisoners.
⬜ FILE SEPARATION
Applicants have the option to apply for asylum on behalf of their family members. To proceed, adult family members must provide written consent. It's important to note that this is entirely optional. Should you prefer to submit individual asylum applications, you retain the right to do so. This applies to adult applicants and minors aged fifteen (15) and above, who also have the right to submit their applications independently.
In situations where a joint case exists with family members, but there is a desire to separate the files, you have the right to request the separation of your international protection application from those of your spouse, mother, father, or child. This circumstance can be due to divorce, legal separation, filing for divorce, the unfortunate death of a family member, or any other reason where privacy of information is a concern.
⬜ AGE ASSESSMENT
If an employee of the Asylum Service doubts about you being under 18 years old, they have 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 it 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 disagree 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 finalized, 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.
Following the registration of your asylum application, you will be notified by the Greek authorities about the date you can collect the International Protection Applicant's Card, in the form of a smart card, with your case number, duration of validity, unique number (UID) and the PAAYPA number that you need for your health insurance. Additionally, they will inform you about the issuance of a Tax Identification Number (AFM). Note that if you are in Greece and your close family member lives legally in another European country, you may be able to join them.
Check: Asylum seeker’s smart cards
Following six months from the registration of your asylum application, you will be eligible to work, and you will need a tax number to work in Greece legally. The tax number is called an "AFM" number, and you will be informed about its issuance following the completion of your registration.
Check: Working in Greece
Following your asylum application registration, you will be given an interview date before the Asylum Service. You may have an "admissibility interview" to determine if Greece will examine your asylum application or if you should be returned to Turkey.
If you don't have an admissibility interview, or if you have one and authorities find your asylum claim should be examined in Greece, you will have an asylum interview. The asylum interview is called an "eligibility interview".
⬜ When your file is closed by the Asylum Services
If the Asylum Service considers that you are not interested in the continuation of the examination of your asylum application, it might issue a decision of discontinuation and close your file in the following cases:
- if you refuse to give information required by the Asylum Service,
- if you miss your interview,
- if you escape from your place of detention,
- if you do not comply with the obligations the Police imposed on you instead of detention,
- if you leave the camp without informing, f) if you leave the country without asking permission from the Asylum Service,
- if you do not notify the Asylum Service of any changes in your contact information,
- if you refuse to provide the documents requested,
- if you do not renew your applicant card on time (the latest on the working day following its expiry date),
- if you do not cooperate with the Authorities, l) if you do not comply with a transfer decision.
In that case, you have the right to request the continuation of the examination of your case only once and within nine (9) months from the issuance of the suspension decision.
If nine months pass and you do not file the application mentioned above for continuation of the examination of your asylum application, you have the right to submit a new application, which will be considered a subsequent application.
⬜ NOTIFICATION OF THE DECISION
The Greek Asylum Service should reach out to you when it has decided on your asylum application. Make sure it has your up-to-date contact information.
You will receive a notification of the decision on your asylum application in one of the following ways: - in person to you at the Asylum Service - by post to your residence or work address or your lawyer or your authorized advisor or representative - to the email address that you gave to the First Reception Service or the Asylum Service or to the email address that your lawyer or authorized advisor or representative gave. - through an application managed by the Asylum Service, you will have access through an online account.
The day you are notified of the decision on your asylum application is very important because, in case of a rejection, the deadline to appeal against the decision begins by the day of the notification.
ATTENTION: If you change your telephone number or address during the procedure, notify the Asylum Service as soon as possible by submitting an electronic application here.
🟢 NOTIFICATION OF THE DECISION - POSITIVE DECISION 🟢
⬜ RESIDENCE PERMIT (ADET)
Once you get your decision granting international protection, you will also receive the decision to issue a Residence Permit (ADET). Most Regional Asylum Offices give both decisions on the same day. 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.
Check: Residence permit
To receive the Residence permit (ADET), you must 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)
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 or subsidiary protection and have received the residence permit (ADET). If you have received subsidiary protection, you can apply for travel docs but NOT IN ALL CASES, depending on nationality. To apply for a Travel Document (TDV or passport), you need to make an appointment at the police station at a passport police station. You can choose if you want to collect your travel document from the regional asylum office in Athens or the one in Thessaloniki. The travel documents issued are uploaded here every Friday. You can use your asylum case number to check if your travel documents are ready. If you miss the appointment uploaded by the asylum service, you can contact them for a new appointment through this platform.
Check: Travel documents
⬜ SOCIAL INSURANCE (PAAYPA to AMKA)
On your asylum card, there will be your PAAYPA number. Your PAAYPA number will be turned into an AMKA number when granted international protection. 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.
Check: Health Insurance
⬜ BRING YOUR FAMILY
Now that you have the status of a recognized refugee, you also have the right to bring your family from your country of origin.
Check: Bring your family to Greece
⬜ CASH ASSISTANCE
You can continue to access the cash assistance program for a limited time after you get asylum.
Check: Cash assistance program
⭕ NOTIFICATION OF THE DECISION - NEGATIVE DECISION ⭕
⬜ APPEAL THE DECISION
If you receive a negative decision on your asylum application, you have the right to appeal within a specific time, which is clarified in your decision. You can do this process ONLY with legal support. If you do not have legal support, make sure to request free legal aid, which the Greek state has to provide through the Registry of Lawyers of the asylum service. You can request legal aid by completing this form online.
On mainland Greece, the deadline to appeal your asylum decision is usually 30 days from the day the Greek Asylum Service notifies you of its decision if your asylum file is processed with the normal procedure. 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.
If you are on a Greek island, you have ten days to appeal if you get a negative answer after an admissibility interview. You have ten days to appeal if you get a negative decision after an eligibility interview. The number of days you have to appeal after the negative decision might change, so IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ASK FOR A LAWYER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE YOU RECEIVE THE NEGATIVE DECISION. 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.
⬆️ If you receive a positive decision on your appeal, go to step "POSITIVE DECISION" to see the next steps ⬆️
⬜ NEGATIVE DECISION ON YOUR APPEAL
If you receive a negative decision on your appeal, you need to pay on your own the expenses of a legal representative to appeal AGAIN within 30 days before the competent Administrative Court of First Instance.
⬜ SUBSEQUENT APPLICATION
You can apply again for asylum by submitting a subsequent application in one of the following cases:
- If you have received a second instance decision rejecting your appeal issued by the Appeal’s Authority and you do not wish to take your case to court,
- If you missed the deadline for submitting an application of annulment before the court
- If your application for annulment has been rejected or
- If the Asylum Service closed your file, that might be the case when you did not renew your asylum card on time or did not go to your asylum interview.
⬜ RESIDENCE PERMIT FOR EXCEPTIONAL REASONS
A residence permit for exceptional reasons (in Greek: Άδεια Διαμονής για εξαιρετικούς λόγους) can be granted to persons currently residing without any legal documents in Greece but can prove their residence in Greece for 7 consecutive years before applying with documents of a specific date. Please note that you need to be undocumented at the time that you submit the relevant application. The residence permit is granted by a decision of the Secretary of the Decentralized Administration. It provides the right of access to the labour market, and it is issued only once and is valid for 3 years.
Important note: According to the latest law on Migration, the period during which a person has submitted an asylum application and was waiting for a decision is excluded and will not be counted in the total of 7 consecutive years of stay.
⬜ DEPORTATION OR READMISSION
In case of a second negative decision, you might be given a certain period to leave Greece and voluntarily return to your country of origin or be detained so that your removal takes place by the Greek authorities (more commonly on the islands). In the cases of voluntarily returning, after the expiration of the deadline, in case of a police check, you might be detained and deported.
Check: Deportation or Readmission
🔳 THE ASYLUM PROCEDURE - General Information
Types of Asylum
If your application is successful, you will 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 particular 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 international or domestic armed conflict situations.
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 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.
Renewals and replacements of documents
- Renew your asylum card every six months - or, in some cases, every month – in any case, the renewal periodicity will be mentioned on the asylum card.
- Renew your subsidiary protection residence permit annually - the date indicated on the card.
- Renew your refugee status residence permit every three years – the date is indicated on the card. Start six months before the application for the renewal of your residence permit and, in any case, no longer than 30 days before its expiration.
- Keep your documents with you at all times. As an extra safety measure, please take photos of your documents and send them to someone you trust.
Check: RENEW YOUR RESIDENCE PERMIT
Withdrawal of refugee status
Withdrawal of refugee status is possible in certain cases, and authorities may revoke refugee or subsidiary status. Find more information regarding the specific circumstances that may lead to the revocation of your status and the procedural steps that must be followed.
Check: WITHDRAWAL OF REFUGEE STATUS
The Online Platform for Asylum Applicant Registration Appointments for asylum seekers: This process is intended for citizens of third countries who wish to apply for international protection in Greece.
If it is the first time you aaply for asylum, you will click here: Initial application registration appointment.
If it is not your first application, it is a subsequent application, and you will click here: Subsequent application registration appointment.
Please note that this process does not apply to a) Citizens of third countries who have already submitted an asylum request. b) Unaccompanied minors. c) Criminal prisoners.
The Asylum-seeker Registration Centers are in Diavata and Malakasa,
- How to bring your family to Greece
- Finding family members
- Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration allows you to ask for help going home safely through
Separation of asylum application cases
An applicant can submit an asylum application on behalf of their family members, provided that written consent from the adult members is obtained. It is important to note that this process is optional. If, for any reason, an individual prefers to submit a separate application for asylum, they retain the right to do so. This right applies not only to adult applicants but also to minors aged 15 or above, who also possess the autonomy to submit individual applications.
In cases where an individual currently holds a joint asylum case with their family members but wishes to separate their files, they are entitled to submit an application for the segregation of their international protection application from those of their spouse, parents, or children.
Separation of asylum application cases becomes necessary due to circumstances such as the passing of an applicant, court-ordered custody, mutual agreement for file separation following divorce, or for reasons where an individual prefers to limit access to their file and its information by other family members.
The application for file separation can be made conveniently online via the Ministry's platform. For the application, specific documents should be attached:
- A solemn declaration of consent from the concerned party.
- Notarized declaration of divorce agreement.
- Divorce petition.
- A solemn declaration of separation from the spouse.
- Death certificate.
- Court decision.
- Certificate of hosting.
- Judicial decision on child custody.
- Child custody agreement.
- Any other relevant documentation.
This process has been set in place to ensure that individuals have the option and means to manage their asylum applications and associated information in accordance with their personal circumstances.
If you require assistance or further information regarding this process, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help and guide you through these proceedings.