Individuals recognised as refugees are granted a 3-year residence permit (“ADET”), which can be renewed after a decision of the Head of the Regional Asylum Office. However, following the entry into force of the IPA (January 2020), beneficiaries of subsidiary protection no longer have the right to receive a 3-year permit. They obtain a 1-year residence permit, renewable for a period of 2 years.
It is noted that the special ID decision (“Απόφαση ΑΔΕΤ”) is not always notified upon the granting of status, in which case beneficiaries have to book an appointment with the RAO to obtain the said decision. Residence permits are usually delivered at least 4-5 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. Until the issuance of the residence permits, applicants hold the asylum seeker card, stamped with the mention “Pending Residence Permit”.
In 2020, according to the practice followed by certain RAOs, such as the RAO of Lesvos, the issuance of the special ID Decision (Απόφαση ΑΔΕΤ) was subject to requirements, which were not laid down by the IPA, such as an employment contract with duration of at least 6 months and a tax declaration of the previous financial year.
Moreover, many persons, who travelled to the Attica region, after being granted international protection on the Eastern Aegean Islands, did not have access to the RAOs, unless they submitted a proof of their new address in Attica. That was in many cases impossible given that many persons were homeless or did not have a permanent accommodation. Thus, they could not proceed with the issuance of the “ADET decision” on the ground that “the RAO was not competent”.
As reported by RSA and Pro Asyl Stiftung “In practice, the ADET issuance and/or renewal procedure is marred by serious delays reaching several months and even a year in some cases. The Hellenic Police has explained that the abolition of the Ministry of Migration Policy and transfer of competences to the Ministry of Citizen Protection in July 2019, followed by the subsequent re-establishment of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum in January 2020, created an institutional gap vis-à-vis responsibility for handling applications for issuance and renewal of ADET. The Hellenic Police only regained competence to examine such applications following a July 2020 legislative amendment. In cases known to RSA, beneficiaries were informed by the authorities that they had to re-submit their applications for “ADET” after said amendment.”
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. The mere delay in the application for renewal, without any justification, could not lead to the rejection of the application, according to the previous legislation. However, following the entry into force of the IPA, this is valid only for recognized refugees, as the new law abolished the said guarantee for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.
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.
As far as GCR is aware, long waiting periods are observed in a number of cases of renewal, which can reach 6 months in practice due to high number of applicants. During this procedure the Legal Unit of the Asylum Service processes 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 for four months. 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. As far as GCR is aware, public services such as the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED), are reluctant to accept this certificate of application (βεβαίωση κατάστασης αιτήματος), because the document lacks a photo or a watermark and any relevant legal provisions allowing the document to be accepted.
GCR has filed various complaints before the Greek Ombudsperson concerning the aforementioned shortcomings, however only a few decisions were issued.
The Asylum Service shared no data for the year 2020 concerning the total number of applications for renewal and the respective positive decisions.
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. The decision used to be issued after a period of approximately 3-6 months. In practice, since January 2019 very few decisions have been issued. At first the delay was due to the resignation of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Citizen Protection. Then the delay was caused by the multiple election procedures and the final reason was the size of the administrative files of beneficiaries. 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.
In January 2020, GCR and other organizations sent a letter of complaint to the Secretary General of the Ministry of Citizen Protection, but the issue has yet to be resolved.
Information with regards the number of applications for renewal submitted before the Aliens Police Directorate and their outcome is not available for 2020 despite the request of GCR.
 Article 24 IPA.
 RSA and Stiftung Pro Asyl, Idem, para. 10. See also, Greek Ombudsperson, Mediation briefing: Renewal of residence permits for beneficiaries of international protection (BIP) by the Greek Police, 7/8/2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3dBoAUY
 RSA and Stiftung Pro Asyl, Idem, para. 12-14
 Article 24 PD 141/2013.
 Article 24(1) IPA.