In June 2021 a new law was passed in Greece (JMD 42799/01.06.2021). It stated that Turkey is a safe country for people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria. The law means that if you claim asylum in Greece and are a national of one of these 5 countries, you will first have to explain to the Greek Asylum Service why Turkey is not a safe country for you, before you can proceed with your claim for asylum. Legally, this is known as an ‘admissibility’ procedure. If the Greek Asylum Service considers that Turkey is safe for you, they will reject your claim for asylum as “inadmissible”, without ever hearing the reasons why you left your home country and why you cannot return.
The Greek authorities presume that Turkey is a safe place and that you will not be at risk of persecution or serious harm in the event of your return there. They believe that anyone from these five countries of origin could in general apply for asylum in Turkey and live there without being in danger. It is therefore important to prepare yourself for your admissibility interview and to find a lawyer if possible to assist you, as soon as possible. The information here will give you an idea what to expect from the interview and the important things to explain.
Even before this law was passed in June 2021, Turkey was considered a safe country - in 2016, the EU made a ‘deal’ with Turkey, assuming that it was a safe country, specifically for people from Syria arriving by sea to the Greek islands. But the law from June 2021 applies to people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Somalia as well as Syria and it applies to people arriving to Greece over the land border, as well as by sea to the islands.
Who is affected by the new law?
• People from Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Syria
• People belonging to these nationalities who seek asylum in Greece who have not yet had their first asylum interview.
• People belonging to these nationalities whose claim for asylum has been rejected as inadmissible, who make a subsequent application.
Careful! The law applies also to people who have arrived in Greece before June 2021. This includes persons/families who initially applied for family reunification or relocation but were not accepted. It also includes persons deported from other EU countries back to Greece, who are still in the first instance asylum procedure, or who want to file subsequent applications.
Careful! The law includes vulnerable people.
Important! People who left Turkey over a year ago, who do not have social / economic ties to Turkey, should not have their cases rejected as inadmissible. However, you will have to undergo the interview anyway - irrespective of how long you have been in Greece. You must explain in the admissibility interview that you do not have ties to Turkey. If you entered Greece over a year ago but did not manage to register your claim for asylum until more recently (so your asylum applicant card was issued less than a year ago) proof of when you entered Greece (police or other official paper) is important, to show how long you have been here.
Careful! Even though the Greek Asylum Service considers cases of people who have been longer than a year in Greece, who do not have social / economic ties to Turkey as admissible, some Appeals Committees have not followed this line. In practice that means that persons who were considered inadmissible by the Asylum Service and appeal against this decision, may again receive a rejection and may have to file a subsequent application before the Asylum Service thereafter to have their admissibility claim examined for a third time. In this case, you will need to provide new information while being interviewed on your situation while you were in Turkey.
Important! As well as the information here about Turkey, in December 2021 another law was passed (JMD 458568/15.12.2021) which says that Albania and North Macedonia are safe countries for everyone. If you passed through these countries – no matter your nationality – the information below applies and you will face the admissibility procedure in Greece.
You should definitely not have an admissibility interview if:
• Your case is in the Dublin procedure (family reunification)
• You are a child under 15 years old
• You have already received a decision on the merits of your claim for asylum, and you make a subsequent application
When will I have my admissibility interview?
You can be requested to come for your admissibility interview at any time after you register your claim for asylum / subsequent application. Even if your asylum interview has already been scheduled, you might receive a phone call from the Asylum Service or be informed by the camp management of your place of residence, requesting ,you usually with (very) short notice to attend your admissibility interview. It is better to prepare as soon as possible, because you may not have sufficient time before the interview appointment - many people are given just a few days notice.
Can a lawyer help me?
As with all people claiming asylum in Greece, there is no free state legal aid. However, you have the right to be accompanied by a lawyer to your admissibility interview. Try to find legal support from a reputable NGO - you do not pay for services from NGOs. See below for NGOs we recommend. It is also possible to do the interview without a lawyer but you should seek advise before.
In the admissibility interview you should mention:
● Any personal problems you had in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia, for example because of your political opinion, race, religion, nationality, gender, sexuality…
● Any problems you experienced with the Turkish/Albanian/North Macedonian authorities, for example when crossing the borders or any violence experienced from the police/military whilst in those countries
● Any attempts by the Turkish/Albanian/North Macedonian authorities to deport you or push you back
● Each period of imprisonment in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia and the conditions you faced in each closed camp/police station/ deportation centre etc,
● Any difficulties you had obtaining necessary medical treatment in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia
● Any difficulties you had finding shelter, food or other basic essentials whilst in Turkey/ Albania/North Macedonia
Remember! Anyone above 15 years old could be interviewed. Family members will be interviewed separately so it is important that the information you give is consistent with each other. Anything stated at your registration interview (when you got your asylum card) is on the record and could be cross-checked by the Asylum Service with what you state now. Bring along any doctor / psychologist certificates on your health conditions or other proof of vulnerability. Provide as much detail as possible and give all important facts even if not directly asked on these!
How can I postpone my admissibility interview?
To postpone an interview (admissibility or asylum) you should use the Ministry of Migration’s online application to postpone/expedite an interview: https://applications.migration.gov.gr/apps/type-3-applications/create?locale=en or ask your lawyer to assist you.
Important! The online application to request a postponement asks you to attach medical or other evidence in support of your request to delay the interview. Applications made to postpone the interview without supporting evidence showing you are too sick (mentally or physically) to attend, or another serious reason, are likely to be ignored/denied.
If you miss your interview because you are too sick or hospitalised on the day of the interview, you must submit medical evidence to the responsible asylum office as soon as possible to prove why you didn’t attend. You can do this by emailing, contact details of each office here: https://migration.gov.gr/en/gas/dioikisi/
Careful! If you are not hospitalised or seriously ill on the date of your interview you still have to present yourself to the Asylum Service on the date of your interview and personally file the documents explaining why you cannot do the interview and apply for the postponement in person. If you don’t present yourself to the authorities your file will be closed and your asylum claim discontinued.
How will I know the outcome, after the admissibility interview?
In some cases, the Asylum Service decides immediately that your claim is admissible - they will then proceed to ask questions on your claim for asylum (why you left your home country and why you can’t go back there), on the same day.
In other cases, you must wait to be notified about the Asylum Service’s decision on whether your claim for asylum is admissible in Greece. The Asylum Service might invite you to an appointment in order to give you the decision. The decision could also be sent to you by post or by email. If you live in a camp, the decision could be served to you in the camp.
Careful! Always update the Asylum Service in case your address, telephone or email change. You can use an online form for this. https://applications.migration.gov.gr/apps/type-5-applications/create
What happens if I get a positive decision after my admissibility interview in Greece?
If you get a positive decision after your admissibility interview, it means the Greek Asylum Service accepts that Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia is not safe for you and you will continue your asylum procedure in Greece.
When will I have my asylum interview?
If your admissibility interview is concluded positively and you are allowed to proceed in Greece with your asylum claim, again you may be informed at short notice to appear before the Asylum Service and explain the reason(s) you fear of persecution / serious harm, in your country of origin. As explained above, you could have your asylum interview on the same day! Prepare as soon as possible any evidence you have for your asylum claim, and proof of any vulnerabilities you have. Try to get legal support from one of the organisations listed below offering free lawyers.
What should I do if I am rejected after my admissibility interview in Greece?
You can appeal against the decision with the help of a Greek lawyer within 20 days. The deadline counts from the day you officially receive the decision. If you receive it by post, the date of receipt is noted on the envelope and you should keep the envelope as proof.
If your appeal is also rejected you have two choices. First, it is possible to go to court but this procedure is complicated and there are expenses involved. Second, it is also possible with the help of a lawyer to try and make a subsequent application to the Greek Asylum Service concerning admissibility. For this, you need new information or evidence about why you’re not safe in Turkey/Albania/North macedonia. You should seek legal advice urgently from one of the organisations listed below.
What does it mean if my asylum claim is declared ‘inadmissible’?
If you receive a rejection following your interview about Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia and you do not appeal, or if your appeals are also rejected, it means that you cannot continue your asylum claim in Greece and you are expected to return to Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia.
Will the Greek authorities send me back to Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia if I am rejected?
Legally, if your claim for asylum is rejected as inadmissible, you could be forcibly sent back to Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia, but it is unclear what will happen in practice. If your asylum claim is declared inadmissible, you lose your right to state shelter and other support, unless you appeal or submit a subsequent application. If you are outside of the asylum procedure (inadmissible and no appeal/subsequent application) you are liable to be detained as an undocumented person.
Important! Since 2016 with the EU-Turkey ’deal’ there have been few enforced returns to Turkey. At the time of writing, no returns at all have taken place from Greece to Turkey since March 2020. The Turkish government has explicitly called on Greece to revoke this law, and said that it will not accept people returned from Greece. However, these political games do not provide any legal assurances.
Important! We are unaware of any enforced official returns to Albania or North Macedonia.
Questions you will be asked:
Did you have any problems crossing the border to Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia?
Explain any problems you may have faced on Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia’s external borders. Problems include: shooting at you by border guards, beatings by authorities, detention and the detention conditions, deportations and any other human rights violations you faced by the authorities. If you have attempted to cross into Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia on multiple occasions, refer to each attempt separately and in detail.
How long did you stay in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia before coming to Greece?
From the time you successfully arrived in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia until you successfully arrived in Greece.
Did you ever go to Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia before leaving your country of origin?
This question refers to any other times you may have been in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia before - either undocumented or travelling legally.
Please explain to us the reasons why you left Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia?
If you were not safe in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia, explain why.
The interview is not about your reasons for fleeing persecution in your country of origin, but you can explain here any problems you may have faced that are connected to the problems that forced you to leave your home country.
Have you ever contacted the Turkish/Albanian/North Macedonian authorities? If yes, give us the details.
Explain any problems you may have had with police/ border guards/ coast guards/ detention/ deportation and also any problems you may have had had to access public hospitals, pharmacies, official work, state schools or renting a house in your name.
Did you apply for international protection or residency in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia? If not, why?
Usually, Turkish authorities once they arrest you issue a police note valid for a few days and refer you to one Turkish city where you should apply for asylum. Explain if you went there and what happened when you went there, if you filed an asylum claim there or why you could not file an asylum application there or elsewhere in Turkey. Explain also if you approached the asylum service in Turkey in other circumstances during your stay. Provide details of what the asylum office employees told you, if the responsible offices were opened or closed, how many times you tried to file an asylum application and what happened each time.
In Albania / North Macedonia we are unsure about asylum procedures – explain if you tried to ask for asylum and what happened.
If you did not try to apply for asylum, explain why.
Did you work in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia?
Here it is relevant to explain the reasons why you could not work (i.e. you lacked papers, sickness etc) or any kind of problems and dangers you faced while working (i.e. not being paid, working illegally etc).
Important! If you were exploited in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia, either for someone else’s gain or in bad conditions - this is very important to explain. Mention if you were forced to work, fearful of your employer, did not receive proper/any payment. If you were not free and had no choice but to work, this is important. You may be a survivor of trafficking.
Where did you live in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia?
If you had no documents, explain that you could not rent a house/flat in your name because of lacking the legal documents. Explain where you lived and in what conditions. It may appear common knowledge to you, but you have to explain your personal experience in detail, so that the interviewer can understand your situation in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia better.
If you had documents, explain any problems concerning the living conditions in camps or other places, problems of survival you may have had, while without monetary aid etc.
Do you have family members, relatives, friends or acquaintances in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia?
This question is designed to understand whether you have any support network in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia, that would make it easier for you to live there.
Do you think you can return to Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia?
Explain any personal and general reasons why you think you cannot return and why you are not safe there.
Did you encounter any problems there?
- any problems you had including: detention, detention conditions, deportations, forced signing of voluntary return, exploitation/ abuse/ ill-treatment by the authorities or others you faced.
- any problems of survival you had (including access to food, shelter, medical aid)
- any persecution you faced there
Do you think that your rights in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia have been violated? (if yes) How?
Be aware that the systematic human rights violations you and many others may have face/d are not “normal” or “legal” under international law. Explain in detail any human rights violations you faced or witnessed.
Did you face a problem in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia because of your dogma (religion) during your stay?
Explain if you faced any problems in due to your religion/belief.
Do you have anything to add?
If you haven’t managed so far, try to state again if you don’t feel safe in Turkey/Albania/North Macedonia, i.e. as there was no guaranteed access to the asylum procedure for you and if there was a big danger of being deported back to your home country. Explain in 1-2 sentences why you are in danger in your home country. Also you can explain if you now feel more safe in Greece and if you have started going to school, working, learning the language etc. Also mention any sicknesses, psychological problems and any therapy you are having in Greece, so to make your personal situation more clear.
Where can I find a Greek lawyer for free?
See a selection of trusted organisations, but know there are also many other NGOs providing free legal services which you can find in the section “contacts”.
GREEK COUNCIL FOR REFUGEES (GCR)
Opening hours: every morning from Monday to Friday before 9am for an appointment.
Address: Solomou 25, Exarchia
Tel: (0030) 210-38.00.990
REFUGEE LEGAL SUPPORT (RLS)
Tel. and Whatsapp: (0030) 6918.104.22.168