Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions

Poland

Author

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Asylum seekers are entitled to material reception conditions to the same extent during all asylum procedures in Poland (there is no difference between regular, accelerated and admissibility procedures, as well as during first appeal).1

Asylum seekers are entitled to material reception conditions after claiming asylum, from the moment they register in one of the first reception centres. They should register here within two days after applying for asylum, otherwise their procedure will be discontinued.2 Only medical assistance can be granted from the moment of claiming asylum (i.e. before registration in a first reception centre) in special situations, in case of threat to life and health.3 Proof of an asylum application is confirmed by the temporary ID issued by the SG after submitting the claim.4 However, according to the Office for Foreigners, the lack of such a document is not a problem for registering at the reception centre.5 From 13 November 2015 asylum seekers are entitled to temporary ID also when they are returned to Poland on the basis of the Dublin Regulation, if they claimed for asylum before departing from Poland and they state that they want to continue the asylum procedure in Poland.6

As a general rule, reception conditions (material assistance, accommodation, medical care) are provided up until 2 months after the decision on the asylum application becomes final (either positive or negative).7 However, when the procedure is terminated with the decision on discontinuing the procedure (e.g. in admissibility procedures), reception conditions are provided until 14 days after the decision becomes final.8 Moreover, from 1 May 2014 reception conditions are not provided, if the term in which an asylum seeker was obliged to leave Poland voluntarily has passed.9 Asylum seekers as a rule are obliged to leave Poland in 30 days from the day when the final decision of the Refugee Board was delivered or in 30 days from the moment when decision of Office for Foreigners becomes final (if they do not appeal).10 In practice it means that the most often the reception conditions are provided only for 30 days, not 2 months, in case of negative decision. Reception conditions are provided in practice in this time frame.

In principle, during the onward appeal procedure before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw, asylum seekers are not entitled to material reception conditions.11 Although in practice, when the court suspends enforcement of the contested decision of the Refugee Board for the time of the court proceedings, asylum seekers are re-granted material reception conditions to the same extent as during the administrative asylum procedure, until the ruling of the court.12 However, in 2016 the Court mostly refused to suspend enforcement of the negative decision on international protection (see: Regular Procedure, Appeal) for the time of the court proceedings, which leaves asylum seekers without any material reception conditions for this time.13

Good practice reported by some asylum seekers is that they were allowed to stay in the centre even though the period during which they were entitled to assistance had ceased after the above mentioned timeframes. On the other hand, some asylum seekers living outside the centres were afraid to go to the office or the centre to get the benefits they were entitled to after the negative decision became final, due to controls by the SG on the days when benefits are given.This practice was reported by asylum seekers in the specialised reception centre for women and children and in the centre in Linin.

The provision of reception conditions does not depend on the financial situation of asylum seekers.14

Some asylum seekers are not entitled to material reception conditions in an asylum procedure e.g. beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, applying for asylum again,15 humanitarian stay or “tolerated stay”, TCNs staying in Poland on the basis of temporary stay permit, permanent stay permit or long-term residence permit, TCNs staying in youth care facilities or detention centres or pre-trial custody or detention for criminal purposes.16 Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, foreigners staying in Poland on the basis of permanent stay permit, long-term residence permit or – in some cases – temporary stay permit are entitled to state benefits (general social assistance system) to the same extent as Polish citizens. Foreigners who were granted humanitarian stay or tolerated stay are entitled to state benefits only in the form of shelter, food, necessary clothing and a benefit for specified purpose.17

There are some practical obstacles reported in accessing material reception conditions. Asylum seekers can apply to change assistance granted in the centre to assistance granted outside of the centre. If the Office for Foreigners agrees then in practice an asylum seeker is entitled to stay in the centre until the end of the month and from the next month they are entitled to financial allowance. The problem is that in law and in practice the financial allowance is not paid on the first day of the month, but by the fifteenth of each month.18 It means that foreigners have to move from the centre at the end of the month, but do not get any financial resources to rent an apartment or even buy food for a couple days or even weeks – such cases were reported to the HFHR.19 The Office for Foreigners claims that asylum seekers can stay in the reception centre until the first day of the payment, but then the monthly payment is smaller, so asylum seekers decide themselves to get allowance for a whole month and not only for the part during which they were not living in a centre.20

Another problem reported is that if an asylum seekers cannot come to the centre to collect the monthly financial allowance on the appointed day (i.e. because they are ill), they will only be able to get the allowance the following month, with a new payment. If they do not have additional sources of income, they are left without assistance for one month. According to the Office for Foreigners any case concerning a change in collecting allowance is examined individually and a lot depends on when the applicant submitted a request to collect allowance on the other day.21

A further obstacle to receiving support is encountered by formerly detained asylum seekers. Those who have been detained are not entitled to support after being released from the detention centre. They are granted material reception conditions only from the moment of registration in a reception centre, which is very often located far away from the detention centre. As a result asylum seekers have problems covering the cost of transport to the reception centre.22 From 13.11.2015 SG is obliged to provide the transport to a reception centre for some groups of asylum seekers released from a detention centre: pregnant women, single parents, elderly and disabled people. In justified cases, food for them should be also provided.23 The Border Guard does not process data on application of this provision in practice.

Moreover, it was reported that asylum seekers in the process of appealing a decision were sometimes not granted social assistance, for the simple reason that the Office for Foreigners’ system had no record that their appeal had been lodged.24

Dublin returnees, if they ask for asylum in Poland (in case if they did not claim for asylum in Poland before) or if they ask to re-open their asylum procedure (when it was discontinued because of their departure from Poland), are entitled to reception conditions on the same rules as mentioned above.

Asylum seekers, who are subject to a Dublin transfer from Poland, are entitled to additional assistance, upon request. The assistance in case of the transfer to other EU country covers: travel costs, administrative payments for travel document or visas and permits, cost of food and medical assistance during the travel.25 Reception conditions are provided for such asylum seekers as long as they should leave Poland to other EU country;26 it is an exception from the general rules concerning the period in which reception conditions are provided described above. Request for this assistance has to be made in a specific term (30 days from the moment when the final decision on transfer is delivered to the asylum seeker). After this time, demand of the asylum seeker is left without consideration.27

  • 1. Article 70 Law on Protection.
  • 2. Article 42(1)(1a) Law on Protection.
  • 3. J. Białas, Niezgodność zasad pomocy socjalnej zapewnianej osobom ubiegającym się o nadanie statusu uchodźcy z wyrokiem Trybunału Sprawiedliwości UE (Incompatibility of social assistance granted to foreigners applying for a refugee status with CJEU judgement), in Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, W poszukiwaniu ochrony. Wybrane problemy dotyczące realizacji praw cudzoziemców ubiegających się o nadanie statusu uchodźcy i objętych ochroną międzynarodową w latach 2012-2014. Obserwacje Programu Pomocy Prawnej dla Uchodźców i Migrantów Helsińskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka,2014, available in Polish at: http://bit.ly/1eiVxDF, 52-53.
  • 4. Article 80 (1) Law on Protection.
  • 5. Information obtained from Department for Social Assistance, Office for Foreigners, 25 March 2014 and confirmed in the letter of the Office for Foreigners to HFHR from 1 February 2017 no BSZ.WAiSM.0361.7.2017/TB.
  • 6. Article 55(2) and (3) Law on Protection, as amended in November 2015.
  • 7. Article 74(1)(2) Law on Protection.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Article 74(2)(2) Law on Protection.
  • 10. Article 299(6)(2) Law on Foreigners.
  • 11. After the administrative appeal procedure before the Refugee Board, there is a possibility of an onward appeal before the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw, but only points of law can be litigated at this stage.
  • 12. This is the interpretation of the Legal Department of the Office for Foreigners. Information confirmed by the Office for Foreigners in the letter to HFHR from 1 February 2017 no BSZ.WAiSM.0361.7.2017/TB.
  • 13. Eg. ruling of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw from 13.04.2015, no. IV SA/Wa 698/15, rulling of the Supreme Administratice Court in Warsaw from 28.01.2015, no. OZ 41/15, rulling of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw from 23.05.2016 no. IV SA/Wa 3808/15.More information on the courts’ differential practice in this area (in Polish): M. Łysienia, Prawo cudzoziemca ubiegającego się o udzielenie ochrony międzynarodowej do pobytu na terytorium Polski(Asylum seeker’s right to stay on the Polish territory) in D. Pudzianowska (ed), Status cudzoziemca w Polsce wobec współczesnych wyzwań międzynarodowych (Foreigner’s status in Poland amid modern international challanges), Wolters Kluwer SA, 2016.
  • 14. Articles 70-74 Law on Protection.
  • 15. In practice some foreigners after the end of the asylum procedure, in which they were granted subsidiary protection, ask for asylum again in order to be granted refugee status.
  • 16. Article 70(2) Law on Protection.
  • 17. Article 5(2) Law of 30 August 2002 on social assistance (Ustawa z dnia 30 sierpnia 2002 r. o pomocy społecznej).
  • 18. Section 3(6) Regulation on amount of assistance for asylum seekers, current schedule of payments, available at: http://bit.ly/1kKb6s3.
  • 19. HFHR,Letter to the Office for Foreigners from 9 September 2013, available at: http://bit.ly/1I3doqZ.
  • 20. Letter from Office for Foreigners from 23 September 2013, available at: http://bit.ly/1OhAO2W.
  • 21. The Office for Foreigners letter to HFHR from 1 February 2017 no BSZ.WAiSM.0361.7.2017/TB.
  • 22. J. Białas, Niezgodność zasad pomocy socjalnej zapewnianej osobom ubiegającym się o nadanie statusu uchodźcy z wyrokiem Trybunału Sprawiedliwości UE,53.
  • 23. Article 89cb Law on Protection.
  • 24. M. Łysienia, Prawidłowe funkcjonowanie systemu POBYT jako gwarancja przestrzegania praw cudzoziemców (Proper functioning of POBYT system as a guarantee for respect of foreigners’ rights), in Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, W poszukiwaniu ochrony,2014,49.
  • 25. Article 75a(2) in conjunction with Article 75(2) Law on Protection.
  • 26. Article 74(3)(2) Law on Protection.
  • 27. Article 75a(2) in conjunction with Article 75(3) and(3a) Law on Protection.

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