Registration of the asylum application

Italy

Author

LD 142/2015 clarifies that applications for international protection are made in the territory, including at the border and in transit zones, and in the territorial waters by non-EU citizens.1 Moreover, the Decree also provides for training for Police authorities appropriate to their tasks and responsibilities.2

LD 142/2015 provides for the issuing of a stay permit for asylum seekers valid for 6 months, renewable.3

 

Fotosegnalamento

Under the Procedure Decree,4 the asylum claim can be lodged either at the Border Police upon arrival or at the Immigration Office of the Police (Questura) if the applicant is already in the territory. The wish to seek international protection may be expressed orally or in writing by the person concerned in their own language with the help of a mediator.5

PD 21/2015, which entered into force in March 2015, provides that asylum seekers who express their wish to apply for international protection before border police authorities are to be requested to approach the competent Questura within 8 working days. Failure to comply with the 8 working day time-limit, without justification, results in deeming the persons as illegally staying on the territory.6 However, there is no provision for a time limit to lodge an asylum request before the Questura when the applicant is already on the national territory.

The procedure for the initial registration of the asylum application is the same at the border and at the Questura. The first step is an identification and registration process, which entails fingerprinting and photographing that can be carried out either at the border police or at the Questura. This procedure is called “fotosegnalamento”.

Before the entry into force of LD 142/2015 at some Questuras, in order to apply for asylum, persons were required to have previously indicated a residence – an address which will be then quoted on the permit of stay. LD 142/2015 has clarified, by th Article 5(1), that the obligation to inform police of the domicile or residence is fulfilled by the applicant by means of a declaration, to be made at the moment of the application for international protection and that the address of the accommodation centres and of the CIE are to be considered the place of residence of asylum applicants who effectively live in these centres.7 Article 4(4) LD 142/2015 also clarified that access to the reception measures and the issuance of the residence permit are not subject to additional requirements to those expressly required by the Decree itself.8

With these two provisions,9 the Decree has made it clear that the unavailability of a domicile shall not be a barrier to access to international protection. Nevertheless, during 2016 Questuras still denied access to the procedure for lack of domicile. This has been reported to ASGI as occurring for example in Milan, Treviso, Frosinone and Imperia (Ventimiglia).

The law does not foresee any financial support for taking public transport to the competent Questura. In practice, the NGOs working at the border points can provide the train ticket for that journey on the basis of a specific agreement with the competent Prefecture. However, this support is not always guaranteed.

 

The preliminary phase is followed by a second step, consisting in the formal registration of the asylum request, which is carried out exclusively at the Questura within the national territory. The formal registration of the application (the so-called “verbalizzazione”) is accomplished through a form (“Modello C/3”).10 The form is completed with the basic information regarding the applicant’s personal history, the journey he or she has undertaken to reach Italy and the reasons for fleeing from the country of origin. This form is signed by the asylum seeker and then sent to the Territorial Commission, before the interview. Asylum seekers should receive, by law, a copy of the C3 and copies of all other documents submitted to the police authorities. In practice, it has been reported to ASGI that some Questuras, like the one in Milan, do not give such copies to the applicants.

Then, even if police is not entitled to know in detail the applicant’s personal history, it happens that some Questuras, before filling in the C3, ask the applicant to provide a written statement concerning his or her personal reasons for fleeing from the country of origin. If the person concerned is not able to write, the interpreter writes for him or her. This results in several contradictions that the person is not really able to explain at the time of the interview with the Territorial Commission. This has been reported to ASGI to happen for example in Gorizia.

At the Questura of Milan, as denounced by the NGOs ASGI, Naga and Avvocati per Niente with a letter sent to the Ministry of Interior in April 2016, the Police was submitting a questionnaire to asylum seekers pretending to assess, from the answers compiled, whether they were refugees or economic migrants, basically applying the same procedure as that applied at Hotspots. Those considered economic migrants were denied to access the asylum procedure and notified of an expulsion order.11

The same Questura was also reported to deny access to the applicants' lawyers. Replying to the report, the Questura rejected all accusations, explaining, that lawyers are allowed to intervene on specific mandate of their clients and for specific disputes with the immigration offices.12

With the completion of the C3, the formal stage of applying for international protection is concluded. The “fotosegnalamento” and the formal registration of the international protection application do not always take place at the same time, especially in big cities, due to the high number of asylum requests and to the shortage of police staff. According to the previous legislation, there was no time limit for the authorities to complete the formal registration of the asylum request. In practice, the formal registration might take place weeks after the date the asylum seeker made the asylum application. This delay created and still creates difficulties for asylum seekers who, in the meantime, might not have access to the reception system and the national health system; with the exception of emergency health care. In this respect, LD 142/2015 provides that the transcription of the statements made by the applicant is carried out within 3 working days from the manifestation of the willingness to seek protection or within 6 working days in case the applicant has manifested such willingness before border police authorities. That time limit is extended to 10 working days in presence of a significant number of asylum applications due to consistent and tight arrivals of asylum seekers.13

However, these time limits are generally not respected. During 2016, as recorded by ASGI and Arci, only in a few cases – such as the Questure of Trapani, Taranto or Pescara – could asylum sekers complete the C3 the same day or immediately later the manifestation of the intention to seek protection.

In other cases, on average, to complete the C3 in Questura asylum seekers had to wait:

                                       Waiting times for completion of C3 per Questura: 2016

Average delay

Questura

1 week

Udine, Macerata, Lucca, L’Aquila, Cosenza, Caltanissetta

up to 2 weeks

Sondrio, Siena, Savona, Prato, Perugia, Messina, Lamezia, Imperia (Ventimiglia), Foggia, Brindisi

up to 1 month

Torino, Rimini, Gorizia, Arezzo

up to 2 months

Agrigento, Palermo, Rome,  Siracusa, Ragusa, Milan

up to 3-4 months

Verona, Trieste, Treviso, Trento, Ascoli Piceno, Livorno, La Spezia

over 3 months

Pisa, Piacenza, Pesaro, Cuneo, Catania

over 6 months

Naples

Source: ASGI and Arci members’ reports, up-to-date as of November 2016.

Different treatments have been reported depending on whether asylum seekers were accommodated in a centre or lived alone. In Caserta, according to the reports, asylum seekers not living in a reception centre can wait up to one year, while those accommodated just one month. The same difference, albeit less sizeable, has been reported for example in Como, Florence, Rome, and Milan.

Some Questure allow people to seek asylum only some days a week; this is 2 days in Bari and Foggia, and one day in Naples. Others pose numerical limits per day. In both cases those Questure do not issue the persons concerned with any document attesting the intention to seek asylum, therefore exposing them to the risk of being considered irregular and receive an expulsion order.

ASGI has also reported barriers to access to the procedure based on nationality. This concerned people from Morocco, Tunisia, Serbia, Albania, Colombia, El Salvador, and in some cases Nigeria and Pakistan.

Many cases have also been reported to ASGI where asylum seekers were not allowed to enter the building of the Questura and were obliged to wait several hours outside, over a barrier, being exposed to psychological ill-treatment, such as verbal abuse and shouting.

  • 1. Article 1 LD 25/2008, as amended by LD 142/2015.
  • 2. Article 10(1-bis) LD 25/2008, as amended by LD 142/2015.
  • 3. Article 4(1) LD 142/2015.
  • 4. Article 6 LD 25/2008.
  • 5. Article 3(1) PD 21/2015.
  • 6. Article 3(2) PD 21/2015.
  • 7. Article 5(1) LD 142/2015. According to Article 5(2), the address is also valid for the notification of any kind of communication of any act concerning the asylum procedure.
  • 8. Article 4(4) LD 142/2015.
  • 9. Article 4(4) LD 142/2015, read together with Article 5(1) LD 142/2015.
  • 10. "Modello C/3 -"Modello per il riconoscimento dello status di rifugiato ai sensi della Convenzione di Ginevra" (Form for the recognition of the refugee status in the meaning of the Geneva Convention).
  • 11. For more information and the letter, see: http://bit.ly/2kB5kIi.
  • 12. The response appeared on the newspaper Avvenire on 30 April 2016.
  • 13. Article 26(2-bis) LD 25/2008, as amended by LD 142/2015.

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