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 2021, a total of 38,638 applications for international protection were lodged in Austria. This marks a sharp increase of 161,51 % compared to 2020, where only 14,192 applications were lodged partly due to COVID-19. After three years of very low numbers in the context of the pandemic, the numbers of applications almost reached the level of 2016 (42,285). However, 2021 has also seen a record number of discontinued cases (7,932) most likely due to onward movement of the applicants to other countries.
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. Some measures were upheld throughout 2021 such as quarantine procedures when necessary, and there was some delay concerning the first interview. 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, but no particular issues were reported in 2021. 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. The Constitutional Court declared the regulation which prohibited the asylum seekers to leave the camp for several weeks as unlawful. Following a complaint of two inhabitants the Constitutional Court lifted up a decision of an Administrative Court which had rejected their complaint against a general prohibition for everyone inside the camp (regardless of whether the persons were infected or not) and found that it was disproportionate.
 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.
 VfGH, Decision E 3811/2020-17, E 3845/2020-17, 6 October 2021