Duration of detention



Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Duration of pre-removal detention

The maximum immigration detention period is 18 months, including extensions. Initial detention order is in principle issued for a period of 6 months. Following an amendment to the LARB in 2017, extensions can be now ordered by the Immigration Police instead of the court after the expiry of the initial or consecutive detention order.1 Each consecutive extension is also issued for a minimum of 6 months until the 18-month limit is reached.

The LAR safeguards the registration of asylum applications and the release of the asylum applicants from pre-removal detention centres within 6 working days, in line with the recast Asylum Procedures Directive.2 As a result, in 2016 the overall detention duration of first asylum applicants prior to their registration decreased to 9 days on average, thereby observing the abovementioned registration deadline.

However, in 2017 this practice was reverted as the average duration of detention rose to 19 days:

Average period of pre-removal detention pending registration (days)






Average detention period





Source: SAR, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee.

The increase was marked contrary to the significant decrease of the new arrivals and asylum seekers in 2017. This contradiction cannot but imply a measure of deterrence for those who might be willing to apply for asylum after their arrest and detention, despite the acknowledgment of the illegality of pre-removal detention after the submission of an asylum application in national jurisprudence.3

Out of the 2,992 persons applying from pre-removal detention, 47 (2%) were detained for more than 3 months and 38 (1.7%) for more than 6 months.


Duration of asylum detention

Detention during the status determination procedure in closed reception facilities is limited by the law to the shortest period possible.4 However, in practice the SAR kept asylum seekers in closed centres until the decision on their asylum applications became final, which for some of the detained asylum seekers extended to 6-7 months, and nearly 13 months in 8 cases. The regular review of necessity as per the law5 is so far applied formally, resulting in detained asylum seekers being released only following the engagement of legal assistance and representation.6

  • 1. Article 46a(3) and (4) LARB, repealed by Law amending the LARB, State Gazette No 97, 5 December 2017.
  • 2. Article 58(4) LAR.
  • 3. Supreme Administrative Court, Decision No 77, 4 January 2018, available in Bulgarian at: http://bit.ly/2rTKmO4. The Court refers to CJEU, Case C-537/11 M.A.
  • 4. Article 45e LAR.
  • 5. Article 45d(2) LAR.
  • 6. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Monthly Situation Report: December 2017, 10 January 2018.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti