An application for international protection can be made before an agent of the public security service or a security authority on Austrian territory. The asylum application is registered as soon as asylum is requested. There is no possibility to apply for asylum at Austrian embassies or consulates abroad since 2001. A first interview has to be conducted by the public security service. All documents have to be sent to the BFA to obtain guidelines on the next steps to be taken. This includes sharing the minutes of the first interrogation as well as a report showing the time, place and circumstances of the application, information on identity and the travel route, in particular the place where the border was crossed, as well as the result of the identity screening.
Applications for international protection are forwarded to the BFA without delay. In some cases, public security offices do not provide correct information and send asylum seekers to the initial reception centre (EAST) of Traiskirchen to make an asylum application. During a short period in 2019, the “initial reception centres” had been re-named into “departure centres”. However, following criticism from civil society organisations and given the lack of legal basis for that change, these are still called “initial reception centres” in accordance with national law.
Based on the information submitted by the police, the BFA orders the transfer of the applicant to an EAST or regional directorate of the BFA. The BFA can also order the applicant to go to the EAST or regional directorate on his/her own, and transfer costs will be covered.  Through this instruction on the next steps to be followed, the application is officially lodged.
Persons legally staying in Austria (i.e. through a residence permit) must submit their asylum application at the public security service too. The BFA orders to appear before the branch office within 14 calendar days. Otherwise, the application will be terminated as being no longer relevant. Parents of children born in Austria are obliged to inform the BFA within two weeks about the birth of the child. Upon receipt of this information, the application is registered and lodged.
In 2020, a total of 14,192 applications for international protection were lodged in Austria. This marks a slight increase of 10.14% compared to 2019, where 12,886 applications were lodged. While there was a sharp decrease of application during the first lockdown (as low as -65% in April), the numbers increased from August onwards.
Despite the COVID-19, the BFA never suspended its activities during the pandemic. Rather, it reduced its activities. During the first months of the pandemic from March to May 2020, only a few interviews were conducted and the offices were not open to public, except for applicants for international protection. An application for international protection had to be lodged in person, while all other submissions were to be sent in writing. Given that the actual number of asylum applications was very low at that time, the access to the asylum procedure was not restricted. Nevertheless, problems surged when asylum seekers had to lodge their asylum application at the EAST consequently. The main EAST in Traiskirchen was put under quarantine from 24 March to 13 April 2020, meaning that people entering the EAST were not allowed to leave until the end of the quarantine. It took some time to establish a system for newly arrived asylum seekers. In the meantime many federal accommodation facilities were put under quarantine when new cases of COVID-19 were detected resulting in the deprivation of liberty of all inhabitants of the camps during this time.
|Federal accommodation facilities during COVID-19|
|Federal accommodation facility||Start of quarantine||End of quarantine|
|BBE EAST Traiskirchen||24 March 2020||13 April 2020|
|BBE Villach||7 November 2020||22 November 2020|
|BBE Bergheim||19 March 2020||5 May 2020|
|12 November 2020||23 November 2020|
|BBE Bad Kreuzen||18 July 2020||30 July 2020|
|24 October 2020||11 November 2020|
|21 November 2020||Open|
|BBE Fieberbrunn||6 November 2020||16 November 2020|
|BBE EAST Thalham||11 September 2020||23 September 2020|
Source: Ministry of Interior, Answer to Parliamentary Request, 4330/AB XXVII. GP, available in German at; https://bit.ly/3reEadv.
 Article 17 (1) AsylG states that a request for asylum can be made in front of any public security agent in Austria.
 Article 17 (2) AsylG
 Article 17 (2) AsylG in connection Article 43 (1) BFA-VG
 Article 43 (1)(1) BFA-VG
 Article 17a (2) AsylG.