Individuals recognised as refugees are granted a three-year residence permit (“ADET”), which can be renewed after a decision of the Head of the Regional Asylum Office. However, since the IPA (L. 4636/2019) came into force, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection no longer have the right to receive a three-year permit; they obtain a one-year residence permit, which is renewable for a period of two-years.
Residence permits are usually delivered at least four to five months after the communication of the positive decision granting international protection and the submission of the special ID decision and photos to the Aliens Police Directorate (‘Διεύθυνση Αλλοδαπών’) or the competent passport office by the beneficiaries. With regards to the deliverance of their residence permits, the Asylum Service does not notify the beneficiaries individually. Rather, it uploads a list of case numbers on its website ready for collection on the indicated day by the ADET. Therefore, beneficiaries have to regularly consult the daily lists online until they find an entry corresponding to their individual case number. On 12 September 2022, a joint Ministerial Decision was issued providing clarifications on the Procedure for granting a Residence Permit to beneficiaries of international protection. It is worth mentioning that until the issuance of the residence permits, applicants hold the asylum seeker card and are considered asylum seekers by ERGANI (ΕΡΓΑΝΗ) the Information System of the Ministry of Employment. In practice, this means that they face the same legal restrictions to access the labour market as asylum seekers in spite of the fact that they are beneficiaries of international protection that are unable to be self-employed. Moreover, after the service of the Residence Permit (A.Δ.E.T), the Asylum Service informs the Electronic Governance of Social Security, SA (ΗΔΙΚΑ Α.Ε.), to deactivate the Provisional Foreigner’s Insurance and Health Care Number for asylum seekers (ΠΑΑΥΠΑ) and update its expiry date for one (1) month, after which it will be automatically deactivated. Along with the service of Residence Permit (Α.Δ.E.T.), the Asylum Service is obliged to inform the beneficiary that they are henceforth a beneficiary of a social security number (AMKA) and that they must take the legally required steps for its issuance within one (1) month. In practice, due to the delay of the system, beneficiaries of international protection have no access to health care or the labour market for many months.
According to the practice followed by certain RAOs in 2021 – such as, the RAO of Lesvos – the issuance of the special ID decision (Απόφαση ΑΔΕΤ) was subject to certain requirements which were not laid down by the IPA. Namely, an employment contract with a duration of at least six-months, a tax declaration from the previous financial year, and a lease agreement.
Moreover, after being granted international protection on the Eastern Aegean Islands, many individuals who travelled to the Attica region did not have access to the RAOs unless they submitted proof of their new address in Attica. In many cases, this was impossible given that many did not have a permanent accommodation or were homeless. Thus, they could not proceed with the issuance of the “ADET decision” on the ground that ‘the RAO was not competent’.
The same report noted that:
‘in the cases of beneficiaries returned from other European countries in recent months, persons await the renewal or reissuance of their ADET and have not been issued any other documentation pending the delivery of the ADET. Importantly, the start date of validity of the ADET corresponds to the date of issuance of the ADET Decision by the Asylum Service, not the issuance of the ADET itself. This creates serious risks for holders of subsidiary protection whose ADET has a one-year validity period given that the ADET issued to them are often close to expiry and need to be immediately renewed due to the delays described above. On account of the substantial backlog of cases before the Aliens Police Directorate of Attica, beneficiaries of international protection who do not hold a valid ADET upon return to Greece are liable to face particularly lengthy waiting times for the issuance and/or renewal of their ADET, without which they cannot access social benefits, health care and the labour market.’
An application for renewal should be submitted no later than 30 calendar days before the expiry of the residence permit. In the absence of justification, the mere delay in an application for renewal could not lead to its rejection. Prior to June 2022, this was solely valid for recognised refugees, the IPA having abolished the guarantee for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. The new Asylum Code allows once again beneficiaries of international protection to submit their applications with delay without the risk of being rejected solely based on this delay. Moreover, in the case of delay in the application for renewal, a fine of EUR 100 is imposed. The authority responsible for the procedure of imposing the fine shall be determined by a joint decision of the Ministers of Immigration, Asylum and Finance. In practice, this fine has never been imposed.
Since 2017, the application for renewal is submitted via email to the Asylum Service and then the renewal decision is notified to the applicant also via email. Accordingly, bearing in mind that legal aid is not provided at this stage, technologically illiterate beneficiaries of international protection can face obstacles while applying for the renewal of their permit.
GCR is aware that long waiting periods are observed in a number of renewal cases. In practice, these often last up to nine months due to the high number of applicants and the fact that the Asylum Unit of International Protection of Beneficiaries (Αυτοτελές Κλιμάκιο Ασύλου Δικαιούχων Διεθνος Προστασίας) is extremely understaffed. Ascribing agency to the backlog caused by COVID-19, the waiting period in some cases is over a year. During this procedure, the Legal Unit of the Asylum Service process criminal record checks on the beneficiaries of international protection, which may lead to the withdrawal of their protection status. Pending the issuance of a new residence permit, beneficiaries of international protection are granted a certificate of application (βεβαίωση κατάστασης αιτήματος) which is valid during 2022 for six months. For the issuance of this certificate, the renewal application must have been uploaded to the electronic system of “ALKYONI” (ΑΛΚΥΟΝΗ). According to GCR’s observations, the Asylum Unit for Beneficiaries of International Protection could upload the application up to four months after the initial submission of the renewal application. In practice, beneficiaries whose residence permit has expired and who hold this document while awaiting the renewal of their residence permit have faced obstacles in accessing services such as social welfare, healthcare and the labour market. As far as GCR is aware, public services, such as the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED), are reluctant to accept this certificate of application (βεβαίωση κατάστασης αιτήματος), because the document lacks a photo, a watermark, and any other relevant legal provisions allowing the document to be accepted. This certificate is providing the beneficiaries with less rights (e.g. right to access labour market, social welfare, public healthcare, etc.) than the certificate of art. 8 L.4251/2014 that is issued for immigrants. In fact, beneficiaries of international protection holding these certificates are only protected from detention and have access to no rights at all pending their residence permit renewals. GCR has filed various complaints before the Greek Ombudsperson concerning the aforementioned shortcomings, however only a few decisions were issued.
It is worth noting that the beneficiaries are never served their official renewal decision. They are simply notified via email by the Asylum Service that the renewal of their residence permit has been accepted. This notice also outlines the procedure that they ought to follow to submit the required documentation before the competent Alien’s Directorate for the issuance of their renewed residence permit. In practice, after the notification email is sent, the beneficiaries should follow the exact same procedure they followed for the initial issuance of their residence permit. For the deliverance of their renewed residence permits, the Asylum Service does not notify the beneficiaries individually. It uploads on its website a list of case numbers for which the renewed ADET are ready for collection on the indicated day. Therefore, beneficiaries have to regularly consult the lists online until they find an entry corresponding to their individual case number. However, the lists of the renewed residence permits are announced on the same segment of the website of the Ministry as the residence permits that are issued for the first time. This creates an enormous confusion to beneficiaries taking into account the residence permit guidelines of the Asylum Service advise them to consult the list of the renewed residence permits that was last updated on December 2020(!) A large number of beneficiaries have been consulting the wrong list for months and missing their scheduled appointments that they were never aware had been scheduled.
Data concerning the total number of applications for renewal and the respective positive decisions was not provided by the Asylum Service for the year 2022. However, the Ministry of Asylum and Migration replied to the Greek Parliament that 2,488 applications for renewal submitted in 2022 are still pending. As of yet, 849 out of said renewal applications are in the process of being processed and the procedure of carrying out the requisite background checks has begun. Moreover, 1704 out of 2588 pending applications have not yet been assigned to the competent employee of the Asylum Service ready to initiate the residence permit renewal procedure. Finally, 35 out of 2588 applications which require verification as to their correctness must then be given a protocol number and posted on the ALKYONI electronic system.
For those granted international protection under the “old procedure” prescribed by Presidential Decree 114/2010, the renewal procedure is conducted by the Aliens Police Directorate (Διεύθυνση Αλλοδαπών). Within the framework of this procedure, the drafting of a legal document for the renewal application is required. Based on available Country of Origin Information (COI), the application must demonstrate that reasons of persecution still exist. The decision used to be issued after a period of more than a year. In 2022, 651 applications for renewal were submitted before the Aliens Police Directorate. Out of those, 419 were positive, 57 were rejected and 175 are still pending. The delay in the renewal procedure is caused due to the delay by Courts to provide data for potential ongoing criminal proceedings against beneficiaries and by the size of the administrative files of beneficiaries and the fact the files are available only in hard copy and not digitally. Due to these delays, a large number of beneficiaries of international protection, for over a year, have no access to the labour market, social security, social welfare and sometimes healthcare, thus facing destitution and homelessness. The certificate of application (βεβαίωση κατάθεσης αίτησης ανανέωσης άδειας διαμονής) provided by the Aliens Directorate, similarly to the certificate of application provided by the Asylum Service, lacks a photo or a watermark and any relevant legal provisions allowing the document to be accepted by other Greek Public Authorities. Moreover, this certificate has no expiration date.
In January 2020, GCR and other organisations sent a letter of complaint to the Secretary General of the Ministry of Citizen Protection, however the issue has yet to be resolved by the time of writing. Τhe adoption of Law no. 4703/2020 (Government Gazette A 131/10.7.2020) provided for the transfer of the relevant competences to the General Secretariat of Public Order of the Ministry of Citizen Protection. The examination, renewal, and service of residence permits for the beneficiaries of international protection of the so called “old procedure” are now handled by the competent Directorate. However, the adoption of this law has not solved the problem either with the delay of residence permits of beneficiaries of international protection or with the practically legally invalid certificate of submission of an application for renewal of a residence permit.
 Article 24 Asylum Code.
 Joint Ministerial Decision 513542/2022, Official Gazette 4763/B/12-9-2022.
 Article 57 Asylum Code& Article 26 Asylum Code
 Article 11 JMD 717/31.01.2020.
 Ibid., para. 12-14.
 Article 23 (1) Asylum Code
 Article 24(1) IPA.
 Article 23(1) Asylum Code
 Article 17 L.4825/2021.
 Reply of the Ministry to the Greek Parliament.
 Information provided by the Headquarters of the Hellenic Police, 13 February 2023.