What are my actual rights as a beneficiary of international protection in Greece?
Can I ask for asylum elsewhere again in another EU-country after getting in Greece a protection status?
If I intend to stay in another country, what can I do to get the right to stay?
These and more questions will be answered here.
Persons holding international protection status from Greece
(political asylum or subsidiary protection)
What are my actual rights as a beneficiary of international protection in Greece?
As a holder of an international protection status’ (political asylum or subsidiary protection) upon receiving your positive decision you are usually informed that you from now on have similar rights like a Greek citizen. Due to the ongoing bad economical situation of the whole country, until today even Greek people sometimes hardly survive and depend largely on their long time established social networks, on family and friends to secure their living. In fact, this means that you also might get almost no support from the state. This is the reason why many Greeks but also many of you might consider leaving Greece in order to stay in another EU country, which has more future prospects. If you belong to this group of recognized refugees in Greece, read this info-sheet carefully.
Attention! If you belong to the group of recognized refugees who would actually like to stay in Greece, and you would consider doing so if there was a little bit more of help, always seek the newest information on possibly upcoming new special programs of housing or other kinds of support for people with international protection status, but be sure to ask more details in this case to know under which conditions, for how long, who can be part of that. Specifically, legal and social support for recognized refugees can be found i.e. at the offices of Greek Council for Refugees (contact: GCR, Solomou Street 25, Exarchia / Athens,Tel. (+30)210-3800990-1). Also, job adverts specifically addressing refugees and migrants are summed up weekly here: https://g2red.org/category/job-adverts-thursday/.
Attention! Greek Asylum Service sums up your rights in this document. You can find answers to certain of your questions there. http://asylo.gov.gr/en/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Ερωτήσεις-Απαντήσεις-αιτούντες-πρόσφυγες-18.2.15-English.pdf
What you might not have been told, but should know about your rights in Greece is:
- Likewise Greeks under certain conditions, you may apply for a monthly allowance (Social Solidarity Welfare /Koinoniko Epidoma Allilegis - KEA) of 200 Euros if you are unemployed and do not receive already the UN cash-card. In case of larger families another 100 per adult and 50 per kids are given. If you have been receiving a cash-card during your asylum application you may keep it for a limited period of time also after recognition. If you did not receive it before your acceptance you are also not eligible after recognition. You can only have one of both (Social Welfare or Cash Card), so a person who has the choice and access to both, has to decide to take one of these incomes just.
Attention! It is quite difficult to collect all necessary documents to apply for these 200+ Euros, but it is possible. You will need assistance though. Seek help of social workers of various NGOs if needed. For contacts see here: http://w2eu.info/en/countries/greece/contacts
The requirements for the social solidarity welfare are:
- AFM (Greek tax number you get from a tax office)
- AMKA (Greek social insurance number which you get from a KEP office, i.e. in Akademias Street 88, Athens)
- A Greek bank account including the IBAN
- The residence permit (ID card)
- An unemployment card
- An email address
- A certificate of the mobile phone company of your SIM-card proofing your number is yours
- A tax declaration (E1 form) or a certificate that you did not yet make a tax declaration until now, as you did not have income until now for all members of your household.
- A consent form signed by the applicant and all adult household members (download here[SS1])
- An address either provided through a copy of a house rental contract and the original, or a declaration that you can use a house/ flat for free by its owner of the person renting it, or a certificate of an NGO such as Praksis, which states that you are a client of their services since a certain date and you are homeless. (Attention! You may be required to bring along a certificate of a. the Daycare Centre for the Homeless of Praksis (Deligorgi 26-28, 4th floor, Athens, daily open 19:30-21 o’clock, Tel. 210-5205200), a centre for homeless (i.e. Doctors of the World, Alikarnasiu 49, Akadimia Platonos, daily 21-9am, Tel. 210-3213150), or the social service of the Reception and Solidarity Centre of the municipality (Pireos 35/ Sofokleos 70, Tel. 210-5246516).
With all these documents you need to go to a public community centres of the municipality (for example in Aghiou Kostandinou Street 14 near Omonia, Athens, Tel. 210-5210632, Mo-Fr 9-16, for residents of Athens) and apply for the welfare.
Attention! According to your individual case and your situation you may be eligible also for additional welfare such as disability welfare or pensions. For more information seek advice of specialised lawyers and social workers, i.e. at the offices of Greek Council for Refugees (contact: GCR, Solomou Street 25, Exarchia / Athens,Tel. (+30)210-3800990-1)
- As a beneficiary of political asylum in Greece and all other EU countries you have the right to family reunion. You can legally bring your very near relatives to you, i.e. your spouse, your underage kids or in case you are an unaccompanied minor, your parents. From the date you get your positive decision issued you have exactly three months time to apply for that. After that deadline, you can still apply but with much more difficulties.
Attention! In the recent past this has turned to be a very time consuming procedure in Greece, so seek legal advice immediately after receiving your political asylum from specialists to get up-to-date information.
- With the necessary travel documents, in general you are allowed to travel out of Greece for a limited time. With political asylum you can go everywhere except your home country. With subsidiary protection you can theoretically even visit your home country. In any way, seek the advice of your lawyer before considering to travel back home to be sure this might not cause you problems. In general, according to law you can only travel like a tourist and you are not allowed to stay longer than three months (every six months), you cannot work legally in another EU-country and are excluded from the social systems there.
Can I give my Greek protection status to the authorities in another country and get their residence permit in its place?
No. You can not just give the Greek papers and get some from another EU-state in exchange.
Can I ask for asylum elsewhere again in another EU-country after getting in Greece a protection status?
According to European Law, you can only ask for international protection in one European country and you can hold the status only from that country.
Attention! Nevertheless, Greece for many years has been proven to not be able to secure minimum living conditions for refugees. This is a fact highlighted by many respectable human rights organisations and their reports. It is known broadly by European governments and the national courts – even though they might deny this fact for political reasons. Yet, the ongoing problems to secure a minimum living in Greece opens pathways to find solutions and ways to stay elsewhere.
Attention! Secondly, apart from international protection status like political asylum or subsidiary protection, there are more options to receive a permit to stay (from within asylum procedures and outside this system). Even if access to the asylum procedure is denied, one can receive a residence permit based on the fact, that one cannot be deported back to Greece for different reasons (i.e. there is no necessary medical support for a certain disease, no access to the medication needed etc.) or on humanitarian grounds also based on the fact that Greece cannot secure the survival of a certain person or properly protect it. Moreover, one may have new reasons of persecution that emerged after leaving Greece and are not older than three months, which may reason a subsequent application for international protection based on new grounds (in countries where subsequent applications are part of the procedure). One may also seek political asylum when in Greece “only” subsidiary protection was given, an argumentation which may open the path to a new asylum claim in another country. So, to sum it up, there are still many options to get papers in another EU country even if it gets known that you already had international protection in Greece. Most important is, that you know it may need time to find a solution and the time is on your side. So don’t try to rush your procedures without reason.
If I have asylum in Greece and I go to another EU-country and apply there for asylum again, what information they will know from my finger prints?
As far as refugees and supporters experienced it recently, the fingerprints you gave in Greece will be visible to 99,9% in the other EU country as soon as you give them there again (usually within the first days upon arrival). Inside the Eurodac System, which authorities here and there use to share information, they can see when and where you gave fingerprints in Europe, what information you gave concerning your name, family name, nationality and birth date and whether or not you applied for asylum (Eurodac 1= fingerprint for illegal entry and Eurodac 2= with asylum application). Since the beginning of 2018 we see in more and more cases that the result of the asylum procedure is also visible directly from the data stored in “Eurodac” together with your fingerprints. Usually it is the date and place of the asylum application plus the date of the decision and the result of the decision that is also shown.
Which European countries have been returning recognized refugees back to Greece the last year?
Persons holding an international protection status from Greece have been returned from Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Italy and many more countries in Europe. Switzerland is seemingly among the most notorious countries, as they even return persons who received a status after leaving Greece and while they were not aware of it. Germany on the opposite, may have returned persons back, but currently is mainly dangerous for persons travelling directly to German airports, while other persons are seemingly in lower danger to be returned, if they enter the asylum procedure directly in the camps and at the German Asylum Service (and NOT with the border police in the airports).
Attention! Seek up-to-date information on the country you are considering to go from other refugees who recently went there and counsellors of the country with a lot of experience. The situation may change fast.
In which countries do I have currently higher chances to struggle for my right to stay despite my international protection status from Greece?
In general you should avoid countries as described above, which currently have a very strict policy against people with international protection status from Greece. Secondly, you should consider the countries where you already have some contacts of family, friends or other people that could support and advice you and seek up-to-date information on where you have most options to get an alternative residence permit or to struggle for your right to stay and your access to the asylum procedure despite your status.
The case of Germany
Is Germany returning back refugees with international protection to Greece?
Germany is not systematically returning beneficiaries to Greece, specifically since the referral of case of an administrative court to the European court in May 2017. Specifically, a German court had decided that it could not estimate whether or not the living conditions and the social rights could be adequately provided for beneficiaries in Greece. Based on that decision, returns of beneficiaries to Greece were sometimes even not ordered by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and could be often stopped by the administrative courts.
Attention! There was no official statement about a halting of deportations by the German authorities, but in fact very, very few people have been deported in the last two years.
Attention! Holders of international protections status from Greece, who apply (again) for asylum in Germany are usually then not considered admissible to the German asylum procedure. You can appeal before the administrative court of your residence area in Germany against this decision. Throughout 2017, in more than half of the court cases, specifically the ones concerning vulnerable persons, appeals against a deportation were accepted and the courts decided to permit the stay in Germany.
What is the situation when travelling to Germany?
Since 12th of November 2017 Germany along with some other EU-member states re-introduced passport controls within Europe. Despite the fact that as a holder of international protection in Greece you are allowed to travel also within Europe with your relevant travel documents (valid refugee passport or subsidiary protections status residence permit plus your countries passport) for three months maximum per year, you may encounter some troubles due to these increased border controls in Europe.
Ever since the increased controls and despite your legal right to travel, it has happened in many cases, that beneficiaries of international protection taking flights from Greece to Germany, upon border controls were asked amongst the following questions:
- What is the purpose of your journey?
- How long are you planning to stay?
- Where will you stay / at which address?
- Do you have provided for your return ticket?
- Do you have sufficient money for the period of stay in Germany? (It is possible that you might even get asked to show the money)
Even upon extensive reply to all these questions, it has happened in many cases, that the newly arriving were detained in the airport facilities for some days and returned back to Greece, based on the authorities’ reasoning that the journey was actually scheduled with the aim to stay and apply for asylum and not as a temporary visit. International airports are transit zones and therefore as long as you did not leave the airport you are considered not to have entered the territory of the country. This is why other (quicker and in the same time harsher) procedures are carried out here. You may not be able to exit the airport zone in order to have a proper asylum procedure with all its guarantees.
Attention! You should avoid applying for asylum already in the airport. You will be held then in the transit-zone and your case will be examined in a fast-track procedure, which is stricter than the usual procedures and you won’t have proper access to legal aid.
B. The land border
Similar to the airports, there are enhanced controls in border areas also on Europe mainland. Again: As a holder of valid travel documents you are allowed to travel but you may be stopped and controlled, specifically near to the borders.
Attention! Due to current negotiations between Germany and Greece concerning co-operation in the return of people who applied for asylum in Greece or received international protection from there, you should know, that Germany has announced enhanced border controls along the border to Austria. The soon to come Deal with Greece may affect also holders of international protection from Greece who upon a border control along the Austrian-German border may be held in a closed centre in Germany and returned in a new fast procedure to Greece.
If I intend to stay in Germany, what can I do to get the right to stay?
For that you need to take four measures from the very first moment you arrive in Germany in order to be prepared and have some guarantees.
Take your time! Visit friends or family. Establish a good network of support. Connect yourself locally to experienced advisors and supporters of local solidarity groups and/or support organisations. Try to get in touch with local people, who can help you to find access to language courses etc.
Take a good lawyer from the first day. A lawyer with experience. You will have to pay him/her, but you can even manage without having any money in advance by paying in monthly rates upon receiving the first social welfare money. Good lawyers are difficult to find and to have time. So you have to first ask an experienced advisor for a good lawyer contact nearby (i.e. you can ask from PRO ASYL, Tel: +49 (0)69–242 314 20, every Mo.-Fr. 10–12am [&] 2-4pm, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) and you should give the lawyer a power of attorney and ask him to support your asylum case. Explain to your lawyer that you already have international protections status in Greece and why you specifically could still not stay there. Hand any proof of: A. Your vulnerability and B. Your problems in Greece to the lawyer and explain especially all the rights violations you encountered in Greece and any form of violence or exploitation you faced there. Ask the lawyer to monitor your asylum application carefully and in case of an admissibility decision to appeal it. Explain to the lawyer if you have any close relatives in Germany, who need your support and hand their contact to the lawyer.
Ask soon for appointments with psychologists and doctors for your quick treatment and the further documentation of your problems by German specialists. It may take time until this is arranged so start as soon as you arrive. Explain well your symptoms, your sickness and show all medical documents you brought along.
Work on your integration into the society from the very beginning. That means: learning the German language, trying to get to know people, joining a football-club / handcrafts group etc. and finally (as soon as you are allowed to work) finding a job or even better an “Ausbildung” (vocational training), subscribe your kids to kindergarden and school.
Attention! This is also important as it opens the way for other possibilities to secure your right to stay. Besides the asylum procedure there are also other ways to get a right to stay, if you stay for longer time and are integrated well into the local society.
If you have stayed for a long time in Greece this had surely serious reasons that you can explain easily to the authorities:
- You have been too weak or sick to travel on.
- You had relatives to take care of as you were responsible for them and who could not travel
- You waited for your asylum procedure to finish and hoped that things might get better…
- You had not the economically means.
What I need to know for my registration interview upon arrival in a camp?
Registration will occur in the first days upon you reporting yourself to the camp. During this first registration interview you should use the chance to get for the first time your vulnerability registered. Even if nobody asks you, you should tell them if you are: Pregnant, disabled, elderly, a survivor of a shipwreck, a victim of torture, a victim of ill-treatment / violence / (sexual) exploitation, a single parents of a small kid / if you are mentally sick or have a chronic or other severe diseases / if you are an unaccompanied minor etc. And you should ask for medical or psychological aid from the very beginning. Within only a few more days you will have your asylum interview. Most likely, the authorities will tell you there that you already hold a protection status from Greece and thus cannot apply again for asylum in Germany. You may be thus just asked the following questions:
- If you have any new reasons of persecution or new proofs since your interview in Greece to file a subsequent application?
- Why you did not stay in Greece?
Attention! It is crucial here to be prepared and explain in detail already before the asylum authorities in order to have the reasons documented inside the asylum interview already.
What do I do if my asylum application is considered inadmissible due to the fact that I am already a beneficiary of international protection from Greece?
In case you receive a negative decision (“Bescheid”) – which is most likely - and this informs you that your application was considered inadmissible (“unzulässig”) due to the international protection status you already hold in Greece, you need to first check the date on the envelope showing the exact day when you officially received the decision. From then on you will have either just one week or two weeks time to appeal against the decision before the responsible administrative court of your area. Usually, at the end of the decision, there is an information section about your rights to appeal (“Rechtsmittelbelehrung”) where you will find, which regional court it is exactly, which should handle your case. Now you need to immediately inform your supporters or directly your lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, you need one NOW! To find a good lawyer seek advise first from a respectable counselling group or you can ask from the German organisation PRO ASYL to tell you a good lawyer nearby +49 (0)69–242 314 20, every Mo.-Fr. 10–12am [&] 2-4pm, E-Mail: email@example.com.
Attention! Don’t panic and find a good lawyer who can appeal before the deadline passes. Supply your lawyer with all information and proof on your personal situation:
- Greece: survival problems, human rights violations you suffered there, dangers you encountered, experiences of violence, discrimination, racist attacks or any form of exploitation
- Your or your relatives vulnerability and
- Any close relatives of you that live also in Germany and who may need your support. Specifically, if your wife and / or underage kids are already living legally in Germany, this is a strong reason to get a permit to stay.
Attention! From now on, be prepared to wait for the court. Time is on your side. Invest it in your integration and networking while waiting for a permanent right to stay.
Are there ways to apply directly upon arrival in Germany for a residence permit despite being a beneficiary of international protection in Greece?
If you have asylum in another country, such as Greece, you cannot ask for asylum in Germany. But, yes, one can also not enter the asylum procedure and instead apply for another residence status. One possibility is to ask for a humanitarian residence permit based on the fact, that Greece is not a country, which could secure your living and / or because you were in danger there too. This is a procedure that a lawyer has to assist you to do and it is not carried out in the refugee camps. You will have to stay somewhere with friends or family and seek a lawyers advise to know the exact steps.
Attention! The procedure may need time during which you will have no state support for housing or social welfare money. You can practically only try this if you have someone supporting you locally, either a strong solidarity network which is willing to do so or family / good friends.
Attention! We do not know of many cases where beneficiaries of international protection from Greece received this status and it is surely not easy to proof that for you personally the humanitarian situation in Greece was that bad. Seek advise of experts before choosing that option to be sure this may be a solution for you personally.
Most importantly you need to have a good network of advice and support in the country you seek to go and specifically locally, near the place you stay. Don’t tell your supporters in the last moment if things don’t go well, you have problems or bad news. Tell them as fast as possible. Keep everyone update. Send copies of any letters or documents you get to them even if they don’t seem important to you. And don’t forget that there is always a way, there are solutions for problems and while sometimes it takes time, in the end you will win if you struggle for your rights. You are not alone!
Good luck and a lot of strength for your future!
Freedom of movement for everyone!