Greece > Relocation

Latest update: August 2016


What is Relocation?

Relocation is the legal transfer of persons who are considered to require international protection (asylum and subsidiary protection) from one member state of the European Union to another member state, after having been found eligible by the authorities of Greece.

Until today, relocation has been completed for very few persons, although the EU had announced high numbers already in 2015. Out of 66,400 refugees that the EU had planned to relocate from Greece to other European countries within two years, only 1.849 refugees were relocated from November 2015 until end of June 2016. At the moment, in the beginning of July 2016, around 42,000 refugees are stuck at the Greek mainland. 7833 applied so far for relocation. Germany (where many people want to go) has only relocated 37 people so far.


What do I need to know about relocation before I apply?

- You will not be able to choose the country of destination; this can be problematic as some of the receiving countries are not first choice if you want to build up a future.

After being relocated to another EU country you are obliged to stay and live there – which can in some cases be quite problematic concerning the possibilities of building your life there.

- If you leave the country you were relocated to and try to live in another European country you will face problems concerning your legal status there and you can be deported there.

- The relocation is free of charge.

- Another possibility to legally reach another European country is via Dublin III family reunification. This is only possible if you have relatives of your close family there who have not yet received citizenship of this country. In case you have relatives with citizenship of a European country you can apply for family reunification at the embassy of that country. Find more info about family reunification in the chapter on Family Reunification (see page XY) or here:


Who can apply for relocation?

The Relocation Program concerns citizens of countries for which the rate of granting international protection is over 75%, based on the European average recognition rates. At the moment, the Relocation Program concerns Syrians, Eritreans, nationals of the Central African Republic, Seychelles, Dominica, Laos, Saudi-Arabia, Bahrain and stateless persons whose former habitual residence was one of these countries. The large majority of beneficiaries until now are Syrians. Iraqis are no longer on the list of eligible nationalities for relocation since the beginning of July. However, those who registered before and applied to be relocated will still be processed.

Attention! In order to benefit from relocation:

– you have to first apply for international protection;

– you must go through the identification, registration and fingerprinting procedure carried out by the Greek authorities;

– you must prove that you are an asylum seeker and have arrived in Greece after the 16th of September 2015.


Are people with special needs prioritized?

Yes, vulnerable persons are prioritized. This includes in particular: minors, unaccompanied minors, disabled people, elderly people, pregnant women, single parents with minor children, victims of human trafficking, persons with serious illnesses, persons with mental disorders and persons who have been subjected to torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence, such as victims of female genital mutilation.


Where am I sent in case I am accepted for relocation?

The following countries have so far accepted to take relocations from Greece: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.


How long does the procedure take?

It is unclear how long this procedure will take as not many countries are willing to receive refugees via relocation so far.

Only one fact is clear: your relocation procedure will be completed within two months from the moment a country accepts you as an applicant. On average, a relocation procedure should be completed within 3 months – but this is so far mainly a declaration on paper – up to now only few people have been relocated.

Attention! Applicants can and should be accommodated in reception centers, hotels and apartments during their waiting period. But also this is so far only a declaration on paper and we have not really seen it much in practice.

Can I influence the choice of the country where I will be sent to?

You cannot choose the country you will be sent to. The only choice is to leave the program in case you do not want to get transferred to the country that was chosen for you. In order to decide the member state to which the relocation will take place, the Asylum Service will take into account 4 criteria after conducting an interview with you:

- your vulnerability (see criteria above),

- the existence of relatives in a particular member state,

- your language skills,

- relocation to the same member state in order to preserve family unity.


What factors might be important for my decision if I really want to be relocated to a certain country or not?

It is good,

  • if you have family or friends there and
  • if there is an existing migrant communities

It is very difficult

  • if the economic situation of the country is bad, a social welfare system is inexistent and the unemployment rate is high and / or
  • if the country is ruled by a right wing government.

Attention! Countries described often as very difficult to live in for refugees are for example: Bulgaria, Rumania, Poland, Malta, Croatia, Slovakia and Czech Republic.


Until what moment can I withdraw my application without any further consequences like a deportation to the country that accepted me?

It might be decided to relocate you to a country where you do not want to go for various reasons. One important question is therefore what consequences it has if you withdraw your relocation-application.

In some leaflets the authorities state that you can be returned to Greece in case you go to another country than the one decided for you, based on the Dublin III-regulation, either during your relocation procedure or after a decision for a certain country has been taken. Almost all European countries have decided not to return any people to Greece at the moment, even if they were first fingerprinted in Greece, including asylum seekers. So far it is unclear how they would be able to find out if you have lodged a relocation application or not.

However, if you move to a third EU-country and apply for asylum there after you have been relocated to another EU-country there will for sure be an attempt to return you to the country you were relocated to originally.


Which organization is responsible for relocation?

The Asylum Service is responsible for the application and the procedure in Greece. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducts your relocation. 


How does the procedure work?

How to apply

- Notify a UNHCR or EASO representative about your interest in the relocation program, or

- Go to a Regional Asylum Office of the Asylum Service (if you have a choice, check with UNHCR- or EASO-staff and/or activists where to go to have quicker and easier access), or

- Call through Skype, see page XY.

The application

- The Asylum Service registers your application and examines it by conducting an interview with you.

After a positive decision

- Once you receive a positive relocation decision, you will be provided with information about the transfer.

- IOM is responsible for pre-departure assistance and travel of the beneficiaries once they have been accepted by an EU Member State of Relocation.

- In the case of relocation, the application will be examined by the responsible authorities of the member state where you will be relocated to.

- Consequently, in the event of international protection status being granted, you will receive your residence permit from the member state where you have been relocated to.

After a negative decision

- If your relocation application is rejected, your asylum application will be examined by Greece.


Addresses of Asylum Services in Greece where you can apply for relocation can be found in the list of contacts here:

Where can I find the case numbers who have received an answer on the internet?

Where can I find statistics on relocation on the internet?

Where can I find official information by the Asylum Office? (in English) 

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