In 2018, the SAR adopted internal rules of procedure which foresee the assistance from social experts during the initial medical examination so as to enable an early identification of vulnerable asylum applicants and their special needs. If identified as such, the vulnerability must be duly noted into the registration form of the applicant, i.e. it must include a detailed explanation of the special needs identified as well as the necessary follow-up required in an appendix. Although monitoring was carried out and seems to indicate that 62% of asylum applicants have undergone an interview with social experts in practice, it appears that the information collected by the latter was not necessarily included to the applicants files and was thus not taken into consideration by caseworkers in their decision-making process.
The law excludes the application of the Accelerated Procedure to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, but not to torture victims. There have not been cases of victims of torture processed under the accelerated procedure in practice, however.
Despite the 2015 reform of the law which stripped the statutory social workers of the child protection services from the responsibility to represent unaccompanied children in asylum procedures (see Legal Representation of Unaccompanied Children), their obligation to provide a social report with an opinion on the best interests of the child concerned in every individual case remains nonetheless under the provisions of general child care legislation. In all of the cases monitored in 2020, these reports were produced but in their vast majority not included to the files nor shared with the SAR’s caseworkers for further consideration.
The pilot legal aid project, commenced in March 2018 by the National Legal Aid Bureau and the SAR provide sponsored legal aid and representation at all stages of the status determination procedure to vulnerable asylum seekers (see Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance). Altogether 818 vulnerable applicants received legal aid in 2020 during the first-instance asylum procedure.
SAR, Internal Rules of Procedure for assessing and granting international protection, adopted on 17 December 2018 and amended in November 2020. See in particular: Article 29 SAR Internal Rules of Procedure.
 Article 71(1) LAR.
 Article 15(4) and (6) Law on Child Protection.
 Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, 2020 Annual RSD Monitoring Report, 31 January 2021.