Residence permit

Greece

Country Report: Residence permit Last updated: 30/05/22

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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.[1] However, following the entry into force of the IPA, 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.[2]

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 and are considered asylum seekers by ERGANI (ΕΡΓΑΝΗ) the Information System of the Ministry of Employment.[3] In practice this means that they face the same legal restrictions to access the labour market as asylum seekers even though they are beneficiaries of international protection not being able to be self-employed.[4]

In 2021, 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 a duration of at least 6 months and a tax declaration from the previous financial year and lease agreement.

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”.[5]

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.”[6]

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. However, this is valid only for recognized refugees, as the new law abolished the said guarantee for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.[7] 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.[8] In practice, this fine has not been imposed yet.

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 9 months in practice due to the high number of applicants. Due to COVID-19, the  backlog the waiting period, in some cases is over a year. 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 three  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 labour market. 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. 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 certificate 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.

The Asylum Service shared no data for the year 2021 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. 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 2021, 892 applications for renewal were submitted before the Aliens Police Directorate. Out of those, 706 were positive, 88 were rejected and 98 are still pending.[9] 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 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.

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 by the time of writing.

[1] Article 24 IPA.

[2] Ibid.

[3] See website of the Ministry of Employment: https://bit.ly/3KZj7oE.

[4] Article 53 IPA & Article 27 IPA.

[5] See also RSA and Stiftung Pro Asyl, Beneficiaries of international protection in Greece Access to documents and socio-economic rights, March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3v8ASKp, para.7-8.

[6] RSA and Stiftung Pro Asyl, Idem, para. 12-14.

[7] Article 24(1) IPA.

[8] Article  17 L.4825/2021.

[9] Statistics provided by the Headquarters of the Hellenic Police, 25.2.2022.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation