Article 30 of the Asylum Law provides that “applicants for international protection, in the case they lack of own financial means, will be provided with needed shelter and social services in order to ensure the satisfaction of their basic needs”. The system has an integral character which assists the applicant/beneficiary from the time of the submission of the application for asylum until the completion of the integration process.
Material reception conditions under national legislation on asylum are the same for every asylum seeker, no matter the profile or the type of asylum procedure applicants are subject to. The reception system is independent from the evolution or the duration of the asylum procedure, as it foresees a rigid 18-month assistance and financial support. This can reach a maximum of 24 months for vulnerable cases (see section on Special Reception Needs).
It must be highlighted that all the process and foreseen services are based on the applicant’s inclusion within official asylum reception places, which give access to all other services provided. This means that applicants who can afford or decide to provide themselves with independent accommodation are in practice cut off the system, and have no guaranteed access to financial support and assistance foreseen in reception centres. Also, this requirement is applied to people who arrive in Spain from the Moroccan border, who are obliged to be hosted within the Ceuta and Melilla’s Migrant Temporary Stay Centres (CETI) in order to be transferred to the Spanish peninsula – to which they are otherwise not legally entitled – and to access the official reception system.
The system is divided into three main phases, each lasting 6 months, which gradually reduce the material conditions granted to the asylum seeker, aiming to achieve autonomy and social integration in the final phase.
During the first 6 months (“first phase”), applicants are provided with accommodation within the CAR and flats located all over the Spanish territory. During these months of temporary reception, applicants receive basic trainings which aim to facilitate their integration within the Spanish society which is foreseen to start the following 6 months.
In this second phase, called “integration phase”, asylum applicants are entitled to financial support and coverage of basic expenses to start their ‘normal’ life.
Finally, the “autonomy phase”, which also has a 6-month duration, foresees the reach of the financial independence of applicants, and provides them with punctual support and service provision.
The different phases are also discussed in the section on Types of Accommodation.
In practice, evidence of the applicant’s lack of financial means is only required in the second phase of the process. There is no other assessment concerning the level of resources of the applicants.
Until 2014, the reception system was accessible when asylum seekers received their appointment to the Office of Asylum and Refuge (OAR) to register the asylum application. During 2014, due to the emergency situation it was going through, the reception system was restructured. The three phases of reception were regulated and an initial additional phase was added, which guaranteed reception in hostels and hotels to asylum seekers that had not received an appointment with OAR yet. This was mainly due to the fact that OAR was overburdened and did not manage to handle the registration of the asylum application in a short timeframe, leaving many asylum seekers out of the official reception system and assistance for several months. This new measure opened an initial 30-day reception to asylum seekers that were waiting for their place in the reception system.
In September 2015, a Royal Decree was adopted in order to increase the capacity of the national reception system and guarantee access to all asylum seekers,1 as it was facing difficulties responding to the number of asylum seekers that were applying for international protection in Spain. The Decree also introduced the possibility to host asylum seekers in hotels for a 30-day period. This initial phase, called “Assessment and referral phase”, is now officially part of the reception scheme. Persons who want to apply for asylum are provided with the information they need on the whole process and their basic necessities are covered until their referral to the first asylum reception phase.
During this phase asylum seekers are placed in hostels and hotels until they are referred to their asylum place within an asylum reception centre or private housing. Expenses covered by the system include accommodation, transport, hygiene and per diems).
Since the 2015 increase of available places for refugees’ reception, the Spanish government has reformed the system regarding financing for NGOs service providers for asylum seekers and refugees. Since then, 5 more NGOs have been included within the official asylum reception system as financing addressed to this sector has substantially increased. The reception system counts a total of 4,104 places for asylum seekers as of December 2016.
- 1. Real Decreto 816/2015, de 11 de septiembre, por el que se regula la concesión directa de una subvención con carácter excepcional y por razones humanitarias para la ampliación extraordinaria de los recursos del sistema de acogida e integración de solicitantes y beneficiarios de protección internacional.