How to Apply for asylum in Spain?

Last update : January 2020

There exist two types of international protection in Spain: asylum and subsidiary protection. When you apply for asylum you automatically apply for both types, and the state will decide which one you are granted….

Apply for asylum in Spain

Asylum is the protection granted to refugees. According to the law, anyone who is outside of their country and has a well-founded fear of facing persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, belonging to a certain social group or political opinion, fit the criteria for this type of protection.

Subsidiary protection is granted to people who do not meet the requirements for asylum but would be at serious risk of suffering severe injury (death penalty, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or serious threat to life and integrity in armed conflicts).
There also exists protection for humanitarian reasons, which can be granted for other reasons than those mentioned above.

How, when and where to apply for asylum (Procedure)

In Spain you can apply for asylum in the asylum and refugee offices or at a police station of the national police. You can also apply in airports and CIEs (detention centers - chapter 13: Glossary) in case they want to deport you. Applying for asylum at the border is only possible in Melilla, and only under certain circumstances. For more information, see - chapter 2.1. Ceuta y Melilla. When you ask for asylum you are given an appointment with the police for your first interview. This interview counts as the start date of your asylum application. During the waiting time until your first interview (which can last up to several months) the paper you are given with the date of the interview can protect you against detention and attempts to deport you, so keep it safe and keep it on you at all times. One month after your first interview the authorities will decide if you can continue the process. It is very important to prepare your story well before your first interview (see chapter how to prepare). If you get a positive answer you are issued your first “red card” (“Tarjeta Roja” - chapter 13: Glossary); your document as an asylum seeker. If you get a negative answer, you have one month to appeal this decision to a judge.

Remember: If you have handed in your passport the Asylum Office will confiscate it during the procedure. If the decision is negative they will hand it back to you and you have 15 days to leave the country. If you don’t leave within these 15 days you will be staying irregularly.

Your rights as an Asylum Seeker

As an asylum seeker you have to right to: not be deported during the time your application is handled, free legal assistance and translation, carry the Tarjeta Roja (red card) as documentation, and the right that the authorities of your country are not told that you are in Spain.
With the red card you have the right to health care, Spanish courses and vocational training.

You have to renew your card every six months. After six months (the first time you get it renewed) you get the right to work, and you can look for work as “cuenta ajena” (being employed) or “cuenta propia” (self-employed) (- guide-chapter 13: Glossary).

Remember: It is very important that you insist on being given some vocational training or labour preparation before you get your permission to work in order to have better options when finding jobs.

How to prepare your personal story and your interview

There will be several interviews with the police in which you will need to tell your story. This will then be used to decide wheter to grant you the right to protection by the Spanish state. The credibility of your story is of crucial importance for the success of your application. You have to tell your story with lots of details and with exact dates of any events that caused you to leave your country. You will also have to speak about what happened during your journey to Spain.

Relevant things for your application

The following things qualify as reasons for granting asylum: personal persecution (attacks or threats to you personally because you belong to a certain political, ethnic or religious group, or because of your sexuality), armed conflict, or diseases and illnesses that cannot be treated in your home country.

Attention: Poverty or general lack of freedom are not reasons enough to get asylum

Valid evidence

Make sure your story is supported by any evidence. This will make it much more credible in the eyes of the authorities. This evidence can consist of:

• photographs of situations and/or places that appear in your story

• Letters, emails or messages from Facebook or WhatsApp that support your story

• Newspaper articles about events that are part of your story, or ones that you are mentioned in (e.g. of terrorist attacks, political resistance etc)

During the investigation of your case you will have to go to several interviews. It is very important that your story is coherent and exactly the same every time, without contradictions, since the police will write down every declaration.You should write down your story in as much detail as possible and study it many times until it is all clear in your memory. Do this before your first interview, to make sure that you don t forget anything or accidentally give wrong dates etc.

The possible outcomes of your asylum application and what do these mean

Positive decision

If you are granted asylum or humanitarian protection, you have the right to get legal identification documents from Spain. These are a residency card and a N.I.E (identification number for foreigners - guide-chapter 3.4.1: N.I.E.). These will give the right to live and work legally in Spain. This residency needs to be renewed every five years. You can also apply for a travel document, which gives you the right to travel in all the countries of the world, except for your country of origin. There is also a possibility you will be granted humanitarian protection for exceptional circumstances. This will need to be renewed every year.

Negative decision

Negative decision If you get a negative decision in your asylum application, contact your lawyer immediately. You have one month to legally appeal this decision. If you have been through all the asylum process and the decision is still negative, you can apply for asylum a second time. If that it is again denied you can try to get your residence on the grounds of arraigo (Residency in Spain)