Asylum in Croatia
last update: August 2014
Types of protection:
There are two types of international protection you can get in Croatia, on the basis of your individual situation:
- Refugee status (in Croatian: status azilanta, or azil) --
- Subsidiary protection (in Croatian: supsidijarna zaštita).
In practice the two statuses are pretty much the same (for example you do not need to have a re-evaluation of the reasons for your subsidiary status every 3 years) -- both can be withdrawn if the person returns voluntarily to his country, if he avails himself of the protection of his country of origin, if he receives the nationality of a host country or if the reasons on the grounds of which he received the protection status, change.
However, there are a few differences between the rights that ensue from the two statues. If you have subsidiary protection, you do not have the right to family reunification. You do not have the right to have a Croatian passport – instead, you get a passport for a foreigner. With that, you cannot travel to countries for which the visa is required for the nationals of your country of origin (even though in practice, sometimes people with subsidiary protection have nevertheless been able to enter into Schengen for example – it seems to depend on the decision of the individual border police officers).
You can seek asylum at the border, at any police station, at the court, in the detention center and during the process of your deportation, and in any interaction with the police officers. To have the status of asylum seeker, it is not enough to express your intention for submitting an application for asylum (izražavanje namjere za traženje azila). You need to also make an official application for asylum asylum (podnošenje zahtjeva za azil) – and during the official application, your fingerprints are taken for the EURODAC data-base.
If you express your intention to seek asylum, while in detention, it can take quite a while before the officials of the Asylum department (Odjel za azil) come to take your official application and during that time, you are still detained there as a “foreigner” (on the basis of the Law on foreigners). However, if you seek asylum at the police station, the official application usually follows shortly after you have expressed an intention to submit it.
Even though the legal recommendations exist that you should get an answer to your asylum claim within 6 months, in reality the waiting can be as long as several months or even years. You are supposed to have at least one interview, but often you have more than one. It can often take a long time for you to even have your first interview, due to the unavailability of translators for some languages. The interviews often last for many hours and you are entitled to have regular breaks.
The first instance (the process before your first decision) is made by the ministry of the interior. During the first instance, you do not have the right to free legal aid. If you receive a negative response to your asylum claim in the first instance, you have the right to appeal and second instance procedure is made by the administrative court. During the second instance, you do have the right to free legal aid, provided by the state. If you receive a negative response at the second instance, there is no further legal remedy. However, you can make a fresh asylum claim (novi zahtjev za azil). This claim will be processed in a fast-track procedure, unless you will provide fresh evidence for your case.