Access to protection in Europe: The registration of asylum applications
The report analyses the legal and practical aspects of registration of asylum claims, with focus on: responsible authorities and content of information collected; locations of registration; time limits; and documentation. It also discusses interplay of the Dublin procedure (following the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling in Mengesteab) and the specific mechanisms for registration of asylum applications made at the border and in detention centres.
The recast Asylum Procedures Directive refers to the terms of “making”, “registering” and “lodging” a claim, without however detailing how these notions are to be understood in practice. These complex concepts and registration stages do not necessarily reflect consistent practice across the continent. For several countries, the formal introduction of an asylum application entails a single procedural step, while others construe “registration” and “lodging” as discrete stages with different legal effects.
The analysis of national practice illustrates that a single-step registration process ensures simplicity in access to the asylum procedure. Additional layers of procedure are counter-productive as they usually entail more coordination within or between authorities, more types of official acts and documents, and inevitably more time for both asylum seekers and officials to comprehend and to navigate. States should build infrastructural and human capacity to make multiple registration points available across their national territory so as to conduct registration and issue documentation within short timeframes. Phone or online platforms used in some countries can be additional technical support tools for registration purposes but can never substitute administrative capacity. Without it, they are liable to exacerbate backlogs and prolong delays and precariousness rather than speeding up access to protection. The volume of documents issued to applicants for international protection should also be minimised in the interests of legal certainty and cost-efficient use of administrative resources. Documents should also have clear and consistent format so as to be recognisable by all actors coming into contact with asylum seekers, be they border guards, police officers, medical professionals, employment agencies, educational institutions or other.