Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions



Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Asylum seekers are entitled to material reception conditions according to national legislation during all types of asylum procedures.1 Although there is no explicit provision in the law, asylum seekers without resources are accommodated with priority in the reception centres in case of lack of capacity to accommodate all new arrivals. Among all, circumstances such as specific needs and risk of destitution are assessed in each case. A destitution risk assessment criteria are set to take into account the individual situation of the asylum seeker of concern, such as – but not exhaustively – resources and means for self-support, profession and employment opportunities if work is formally permitted, and the number and vulnerabilities of dependent family members. Notwithstanding this, asylum seekers have the right to withdraw from these benefits, if their application is pending in the regular procedure and they declare that they are in possession of means and resources to support themselves and chose to live outside reception centres.

The law provides that every applicant shall be entitled to receive a registration card in the course of the procedure.2 In addition, the law implies a legal fiction, according to which the registration card does not certify the foreigner’s identity due to its temporary nature and the specific characteristics of establishing the facts and circumstances during the refugee status determination (RSD) procedures which are based, for the most part, on circumstantial evidence.3 Hence, the registration card serves the sole purpose of certifying the identity declared by the asylum seeker.

Nevertheless, this document is an absolute prerequisite for access to the rights enjoyed by asylum seekers during the RSD procedure, namely remaining on the territory, receiving shelter and subsistence, social assistance (under the same conditions as Bulgarian nationals and receiving the same amount), health insurance, access to health care, psychological support and education.

After the 2015 reform, certain asylum seekers to whom a Dublin procedure is undertaken cannot enjoy any of the material reception conditions, as the only rights reserved for them are to stay in the territory of the country, to interpretation and to be issued a registration card.4

Prior the amendments of the law in 2015, if the subsequent applicants fell under one of the categories of vulnerable asylum seekers they could nonetheless enjoy these entitlements without restrictions. However, after the reform, subsequent applicants are also excluded not only from all material conditions, but also from the rights to receive a registration card, and only have a right to interpretation pending the fast-track processing of the admissibility assessment prior to their registration, documentation and determination on the substance.5 In cases where the first subsequent application is considered to be submitted merely in order to delay or frustrate the enforcement of a removal decision, or where it concerns another subsequent application following a final inadmissibility / unfounded decision considering a first subsequent application, the applicants are also stripped from the right to remain in the territory. The law has set a 14-day time limit for this admissibility determination. If the subsequent application is considered inadmissible the asylum administration should not open a determination procedure and the applicant is not registered and documented (see section on Subsequent Applications).

  • 1. Article 29(1)(2)-(3) LAR.
  • 2. Article 29(1)(6) LAR.
  • 3. Article 40(3) LAR.
  • 4. Article 29(2) LAR, as applicable on 16 October 2015. The provision distinguishes between persons applying for asylum in Bulgaria, who have access to full reception conditions (Article 67a(2)(1) LAR), and persons found irregularly on the territory to whom the Dublin Regulation applies (Article 67a(2)(2) LAR).
  • 5. Article 76b LAR.

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