Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 15/04/21


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As of March 2017, there is no mechanism for the dispersal of asylum seekers across the territory of the country. Between March 2017 and 21 May 2020, asylum seekers were primarily held in the transit zones and those who had been exceptionally released from there were placed to open reception centres. At the end of 2020, there were only 6 asylum seekers residing in open facilities[1] (see Types of Accommodation).

Asylum seekers who are not detained (either in asylum detention or in the transit zones before 21 May 2020) can move freely within the country but may only leave the reception centre where they are accommodated for less than 24 hours, unless they notify the authorities in writing about their intention to leave the facility for more than that. In this case, the NDGAP upon the request issues the permission for the asylum seekers. HHC is not aware of such an example from 2020.

Asylum seekers can normally leave the centres freely for 24 hours. In Vámosszabadi, the former IAO used to provide direct free bus transport to Győr, the nearest big town, for the residents of the reception centre. The practice was halted around mid-2018, supposedly owing to the limited number of people accommodated by the centre. Although, in case there are important matters to manage in Győr (e.g. personal document issues), asylum seekers have been transported occasionally on weekdays by a minibus driven by a social worker to the city in 2019 and 2020. HHC is aware of an asylum-seeker family (father and son) who were transferred to Vámosszabadi after the closure of the transit zones. After the NDGAP had rejected their asylum application in 2019 on the “safe transit country” ground, the applicants requested the asylum authority in the spring of 2020 to continue their asylum procedure by virtue of the CJEU judgment issued in the case of LH (C-564/18). NDGAP considered their application as a “subsequent one” and rejected it stating that they did not provide any new evidence, despite the fact that Serbia explicitly refused to readmit them. The court quashed the decision. But despite the judgment the NDGAP unlawfully considers them as subsequent applicants and applies rules of alien policing procedure regarding reception conditions. Even though accommodation was granted for them, they were subject to strict freedom of movement rules (similarly to those being under an alien policing procedure), meaning that they could leave the centre only for 2 hours per day.

In state of crisis due to mass migration, Section 48(1) of the Asylum Act regulating accommodation inter alia at a private address is not applicable, therefore the former IAO applied the rules on alternatives to detention regarding the few asylum seekers whose request for private accommodation was “permitted” disregarding the fact that the applicants were not in detention (for details see AIDA report 2019). From 21 May 2020, as a consequence of the termination of the transit regime, all the asylum seekers detained in the transit zones were released and relocated either to Vámosszabadi or Balassagyarmat. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the relocated asylum seekers were obliged to stay in quarantine for 2 weeks upon their arrival. After the two weeks the same freedom of movement restrictions applied to the residents as to Hungarian citizens.

The only family arriving as a result of the “Embassy procedure” to Hungary on 1 December 2020 was placed in Vámosszabadi and was being quarantined subsequently for 10 days.

Before 21 May 2020, since transit zones served as reception centres in the first place, there had been only a few exceptional cases when asylum seekers were transferred from Röszke or Tompa to open reception facilities. The HHC is aware of a couple of cases where applicants were released from the transit zone in accordance with judicial decisions obliging the former IAO to do so in 2018.[2] These judgements in general referred to Article 43(2) of the Procedures Directive setting an upper time limit of 4 weeks for the Member States keeping asylum seekers in the transit zones or under border procedure. The judgments expressis verbis requested the asylum authority to provide an accommodation to applicants not resulting in detention or inhuman and degrading treatment (implying that transit zone placement is detention and amount to inhuman and degrading treatment). Same judgments were issued in the beginning of the year of 2019 (for details see Section on Judicial review of the detention order). As a result, applicants were placed mainly to the open reception facility in Balassagyarmat.[3] As regards the first five months of 2020, the HHC is not aware of any similar cases.

There was an exceptional case in 2018 when an Afghan woman and her son were accommodated in Vámosszabadi after they had submitted their asylum application in the transit zone due to the severely poor health of the woman requiring constant medical assistance (for details see the AIDA Report 2019). There was another case recorded in 2019, when due to the lethally ill child an asylum-seeking family was placed there. However, there has been no similar information provided to HHC as regards 2020.


[1]       Information provided by the NDGAP on 3 March 2021.

[2]        See e.g. Administrative and Labour Court of Szeged, Decision 6.K.27.060/2018/8, 1 March 2018; Metropolitan Administrative and Labour Court, 44.K.33.689/2018/11, 14 November 2018.

[3]        See e.g. Administrative and Labour Court of Szeged, judgement no. 6.K.27.016/2019/8., 25 March 2019; judgement no. 6.K.27.019/2019/14., 1 March 2019; judgement no. 6.K.27.646/2018/16., 21 January 2019; judgement no. 19.K.27.583/2019/7., 3 September 2019; Administrative and Labour Court of Debrecen, judgment no. 10.K.28.267/2018/23., 12 February 2019.; Metropolitan Administrative and Labour Court, judgment no. 3.K.30.088/2019/6., 26 February 2019.

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