In order to be protected and regulate your status in Serbia you can apply for asylum. You can do that by going to the police station and requesting asylum, simply by saying “I want asylum” to police officers there. You can do that in any police station in the country.
You can go to the police station on your own, here you can find the police station in Belgrade (capital of Serbia):
Omladinskih brigada 1, Novi Beograd.
Here is the link to google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/Xmqq41minQukS9bc8
If the police continues to refuse to allow you to seek asylum, you can contact one of the organization which provides free legal aid to asylum seekers. You can find the list of these organizations here: https://www.unhcr.org/rs/en/free-legal-aid
Illegal entry (without visa and passport) and illegal stay in Serbia are misdemeanor acts and you can be detained or jailed because of it. Applying for asylum and being in asylum procedure is the only way how you can legalize your status in Serbia.
Registration is first step in asylum procedure and it is done in the police station. During the registration, police officer will take your personal information, your picture and fingerprints.
You will than receive the so called 72-hours-paper (“potvrda o registraciji”, which means confirmation on registration for asylum) at the police station. Confirmation on registration will have your personal data (name, last name, date of birth, country of origin) and at the bottom of the paper police officer will write in which camp you are referred to. You cannot choose the camp in which you will be sent. But you will not be separated from your family, since all family members are always sent to the same camp.
The fingerprints taken at one police station are put into a national data base, which is shared with all police stations in Serbia. So, if you seek asylum at one police station and you don’t go to the camp listed in the registration within those 72 hours, you will not be allowed to seek asylum again, because your fingerprints will come up at the police station. This means that after those 72 hours you will loose legal residency in Serbia and you can be detained or jailed, but also you will not have basic rights (right to accommodation, health care, right to work, etc). **Please note: These fingerprints can NOT be used to deport you to Serbia according to the Dublin-regulation – this means your fingerprints will not be shared with other countries in Europe and you cannot be deported back to Serbia just for leaving your fingerprints there.
Please note that when you seek asylum at the police station, your asylum procedure has not officially started. You were only given the so called 72-hours-paper, which gives you 72 hours to get to one of the centres for asylum seekers. There, you will submit the asylum application which will start the real asylum procedure. When seeking asylum at the police station, the police will write (in Serbian only) which centre you are supposed to go to - you do not have the chance to choose to which centre you will be sent to. You need to reach the center by yourself, with your own transport and with your own money.
IF YOU WANT TO SEEK ASYLUM IN SERBIA
If you want to seek asylum in Serbia, it is very important that you reach the asylum centre within the 72 hours, or else your paper will not be valid anymore (and you will be undocumented again).
While having the 72-hours-paper will legalise your status and give you some rights, it does not count as an ID. You only get the ID once you have had your first interview in one of the centres for the asylum seekers. The ID you receive is the “Asylum ID Card” which identifies you as an asylum seeker in Serbia. With this card you are allowed to move on the whole territory of Serbia. This ID card has you picture in color, your personal data is written by hand and it has stamp of the Ministry of Interior.
Please note: You will also receive the so called “camp card” after being accommodated in the camp. This card is black and white, with your data printed on the paper. However, this card is NOT an official document, it doesn’t give you any rights and it’s not a guarantee of your status nor that you will have a place it that specific camp. You can still be detained or moved to other camps even if you are in possession of the “camp card”.
Further information on the asylum procedure in Serbia.
Please note: this material is based on laws that have been changed, so some of the information in there might be outdated.
During the asylum procedure you will probably have two interviews with the police inspectors from Asylum Office. These interviews are held in the camp and you will be provided with interpreter for your native language.
The first interview is organized so that you can submit the asylum application. Asylum application is a form of 26 questions that everybody has to fill. Inspector from Asylum Office should organize this interview within 15 days upon the registration. If they don’t organize the interview, you can fill the form of asylum application and send it by post to Asylum Office within 8 days. It is recommended that you contact one of the organizations that provides free legal aid to assist you with this.
The second interview is called “asylum hearing” and this interview lasts a few hours. Police inspector will ask you to explain all details about the reasons why you fled your home country and potential consequences if you are sent back. You should also bring any proof or evidence that you have from your home country that can support your testimony.
You have the right to request that a legal assistance supports you during the interview and the procedure in general.
If you want this support get in contact with one of the organizations that provides free legal aid in Serbia. You can find their contact here: https://www.unhcr.org/rs/en/free-legal-aid
You should get the decision on your asylum request in 3 months, but this is rarely the case. Normally it takes much longer - around 10-12 months.
While you are in the asylum procedure you have the right to free accommodation in the camp, food and clothes within the camps, health care, elementary and high school education, legal aid. You can also get a work permit and work after 9 months from the moment when you have submitted an asylum application.
If you get a positive answer to your request, you will have a refugee status in Serbia and a five-year permit to stay in Serbia. If they grant you subsidiary protection you will get a permit to stay for one year, which will be renewed for another year by the police if your home country is still unsafe.
If the decision of the authorities is negative about your request you have the right to appeal within 15 days. In this case get in contact with your legal representative or lawyer.
REFUGEE STATUS AND SUBSIDIARY PROTECTION
For people who have received asylum status, UNHCR has increased its efforts to find people jobs and support education. There is also financial assistance to rent private accommodation for people in the first years after they received asylum status.