Access to the labour market



Greek Council for Refugees

According to national legislation, as amended in 2016, asylum seekers have access to the labour market as employees or service or work providers from the moment an asylum application has been formally lodged and they have obtained an asylum seeker’s card.1

Applicants who have not yet completed the full registration and lodged their application i.e. applicants who are pre-registered, do not have access to the labour market. As noted in Registration, a total 27,592 applicants were pre-registered upon completion of the scheme on 30 July 2016,2 and only 12,905 of them had lodged applications as of 31 December 2016. According to the Asylum Service, the full registration of the total number of the pre-registered application would nevertheless be completed by the end of February 2017.3

In practice, taking into consideration the current context of financial crisis, the high unemployment rates and further obstacles posed by competition with Greek-speaking employees, it is particularly difficult in practice for asylum seekers to have access to the labour market, which may lead to ‘undeclared’ employment with severe repercussions on the enjoyment of basic social rights. According to statistics, unemployment rate of third-country nationals is greater than that of Greek nationals, while the percentage of the economically active population of third-country national is significantly higher that the relevant percentage among the Greek population:

Unemployment rates for Greek and third-country nationals: Q2 2016


Greek nationals

Third-country nationals

Unemployment rate



Economically active population



Source: Hellenic Statistical Authority, Press Release for the second quarter of 2016:

Additionally, according to Article 11 PD 220/2007, applicants have access to vocational training programmes implemented by public or private bodies, under the same conditions and prerequisites as foreseen for Greek citizens. However, the condition of enrolment “under the same conditions and prerequisites as foreseen for Greek citizens” does not take into consideration the significantly different position of asylum seekers, and in particular the fact that they may not be in the position to provide the necessary documentation.4

  • 1. Article 71 L 4375/2016.
  • 2. Asylum Service, Pre-registration data analysis 9 June – 30 July 2016, available at:
  • 3. Information provided by the Asylum Service, 9 February 2017. It should be noted that Article 11 of the draft law transposing the recast Reception Conditions Directive would allow access to employment for pre-registered applicants whose full registration process exceeds 3 months. As mentioned, this bill has not yet been submitted to Parliament.
  • 4. GCR, Observations on the Draft Law transposing the Reception Directive, 31 October 2016, available in Greek at:

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