The Procedure Decree provides that applications for international protection are made by non-EU citizens on the territory of the State, including at the border and in transit zones, and in the territorial waters.
The Decree also provides for training for police authorities appropriate to their tasks and responsibilities.
Making and registering the application (fotosegnalamento)
Under the Procedure Decree, the asylum claim can be made either at the Border Police upon arrival or at the Immigration Office (Ufficio Immigrazione) of the Police (Questura), if the applicant is already on the territory. The intention to seek international protection may be expressed orally or in writing by the person concerned in their own language with the help of a cultural mediator.
PD 21/2015 provides that asylum seekers who express their wish to apply for international protection before Border Police authorities are to be requested to approach the competent Questura within 8 working days. Failure to comply with the 8-working-day time limit without justification, results in deeming the persons as illegally staying on the territory. However, there is no provision for a time limit to make an asylum application before the Questura when the applicant is already on the territory.
The law does not foresee any financial support for taking public transport to the competent Questura. In practice, NGOs working on the borders provide the train ticket for that journey on the basis of a specific agreement with the competent Prefecture. However, this support is not always guaranteed.
The procedure for the initial registration of the asylum application is the same at the border and at the Questura. The first step is the identification and registration process, which entails fingerprinting and photographing that can be carried out either at the border police or at the Questura. This procedure is called “fotosegnalamento”.
The Procedure Decree provides that the registration of the application shall be carried out within 3 working days from the expression of the intention to seek protection or within 6 working days in case the applicant has expressed such willingness before Border Police authorities. That time limit is extended to 10 working days in presence of a significant number of asylum applications due to consistent and tight arrivals of asylum seekers.
Upon completion of the fotosegnalamento, the person receives an invitation (invito) to reappear before the Questura with a view to lodging the asylum application.
Lodging the application (verbalizzazione)
Fotosegnalamento is followed by a second step, consisting in the formal registration of the asylum application, which is carried out exclusively at the Questura within the national territory. The EUAA has also provided support in this process since 2017.
The formal registration of the application (verbalizzazione or formalizzazione) is conducted through the “C3” form (Modello C3). The form is completed with the basic information regarding the applicant’s personal history, the journey to reach Italy and the reasons for fleeing from the country of origin. This form is signed by the asylum seeker and sent to the Territorial Commission, before the interview. Asylum seekers shall receive a copy of the C3 and copies of all other documents submitted to the police authorities.
With the completion of the C3, the formal stage of applying for international protection is concluded. The “fotosegnalamento” and the lodging of the international protection application do not always take place at the same time, especially in big cities, due to the high number of asylum application and to the shortage of police staff. In practice, the formal registration might take place weeks after the date the asylum seeker made the asylum application. This delay created and still creates difficulties for asylum seekers who, in the meantime, might not have access to the reception system and the national health system, with the exception of emergency health care.
Since 2017, the EUAA supports the Questure in the verbalizzazione process.
In 2022, the EUAA carried out 10,171 registrations in Italy. Of these, 66% related to the top 10 citizenships of applicants, mainly from Bangladesh (1,462), Pakistan (870), Egypt (863) and Peru (719).
In 2022, the EUAA carried out 1,862 registrations for temporary protection in Italy.
The Reception Decree provides for the issuance of a “residence permit for asylum seekers” (permesso di soggiorno per richiesta asilo), valid for 6 months, renewable.
Access to the procedure in practice
Reports of denial of access to the asylum procedure recorded by ASGI continued in the last three years. However, from the early months of 2022, the situation reached unprecedented critical levels.
Where they prevent access to the procedure, Questure do not issue any document attesting the intention of the persons concerned to seek asylum. This exposes them to risks of arbitrary arrest and deportation.
In recent years, this problem mainly affected people who disembarked, as they had to face the so-called hotspot procedure, being channelled to the asylum procedure or to a deportation procedure (being sent to a CPR) mainly depending on their nationality and on the base of a “foglio notizie” not translated in their language and fulfilled without an effective assistance from cultural mediators. This still happened in 2022, and such practices were still reported mainly concerning Tunisian and Moroccan nationals.
In cases where, once in CPR, people managed to submit an asylum application, this was, with few exceptions, considered instrumental in avoiding repatriation, and therefore not useful at avoiding detention. (see Detention).
In 2020, the Court of Cassation reaffirmed the close connection between compliance with information obligations and the effectiveness of the right of access to the asylum procedure, both denied by the value attributed to the so-called “foglio notizie” or second “foglio notizie”, which are often submitted to foreign citizens who arrive at the border without a prior or contextual explanation on the meaning of their signature.
As for the eastern border, the practice of readmissions to Slovenia was suspended but re-started by November 2022, even if involving a limited number of individuals who declared not being interested in seeking asylum in Italy. In these cases, often Slovenia refused to apply the readmission agreement and sent back people to Italy.
As previously mentioned, readmissions of asylum seekers were recorded also at Adriatic ports.
In 2022, there were numerous reports of cases in which access to the asylum procedure was hindered on even on national territory, and practices widely differed among different areas of the territory.
As detailed in the report published by Altreconomia, many Questure declared having set several conditions, not established by national law that potential asylum seekers are asked to satisfy before being allowed to access the asylum procedure.
Some Questure, for example, ask to apply by certified mail, others personally, others by lawyer. Several reported accepting only a limited number of asylum requests per day or per week and that, often, lawyers are not allowed to access the competent office together with their clients.
Moreover, even though the Reception Decree provisions make it clear that the unavailability of a domicile cannot be a barrier to access international protection, the following Questure declared to request evidence of a domicile:
- Caltanissetta Siracusa, Messina, Palermo (Sicily)
- Pordenone ( Friuli Venezia Giulia)
- Alessandria, Novara (Piedmont) ,
- Reggio Emilia, Ferrara, Forlì, Moden (Emila Romagna)
- Sassari, Nuoro (Sardinia)
- Siena ( Tuscany)
- Taranto, Lecce ( Apulia)
- Aosta (Val d’Aoste)
- Como (Lombardy)
- Pesaro Urbino (Marche)
- Naples ( Campania)
- Rome ( Lazio)
The Questura of Milan indicated to allow asylum seekers to be represented and assisted by a lawyer during the procedure and not to request any domicile to access the asylum procedure. Additionally, it declared to guarantee assistance to asylum seekers awaiting the access to the procedure. Regardless of the answer, which does not properly reflect the reality verified by Naga, ASGI and other associations involved in the protection of migrants and asylum seekers, the situation in the competent Questura was and is at the moment of writing extremely worrying. The system adopted by the Questura in the last months of 2022 and still valid at the time of writing, consists of the collection of names for the appointment to express the intention to apply for international protection, only on Mondays, admitting a maximum of around 120 people each time.
There are no rules for standing in line and people have therefore started sleeping in front of the police station since Sunday night with serious risks for the personal safety of people, even recently victims of repressive violence by the police. Police staff usually selected people that would obtain the date for the appointment. The situation has been reported on in various press articles.
On 28 March 2023, the Civil Court of Milan upheld the urgent appeal submitted by an Egyptian asylum seeker who had tried several times to access the Questura and finally had expressed his intention to seek asylum through a certified mail sent by his lawyer. The Court ordered Questura to register his intention to seek asylum. As of April 2023 the Questura of Milan decided to allow access to the asylum procedure through a telematic system (Prenotafacile) which, however, requires the possession of a passport or of an identification document to be used. On 9 May 2023, the Civil Court of Milan upheld the urgent appeal submitted by another Egyptian asylum seeker ordering Questura to process his asylum request evaluating the inadequacy of the Prenofacile system as it was actually not allowing people to request an appointment.
The Questure of Sassari and Siracusa declared to ask to submit legalised documents to prove the family bond among parents and children who are, otherwise, prevented from applying.
Regarding the requests of evidence of family bonds, in 2022 some Questure – such as those of Caserta and Rome – started, as reported to ASGI, to ask for a DNA test to prove the family bond.
As reported to ASGI, the Questura of Bologna refused to formalise an asylum request of a family lacking family documents.
The Civil Court of Rome, with a decision of 31 March 2023, ordered the immediate access to the asylum procedure of a Georgian citizen, deeming the new practice established in recent weeks by the Questura of Rome of setting appointments for the formalisation of the application months after the request did not comply with regulatory provisions.
Moreover, the Civil Court of Trieste ordered, on 24 March 2023, to the Questura of Udine, to register within 30 days the international protection request of a Nigerian woman, 62 aged, who, since October 2022, was trying to obtain access to the asylum procedure but had only obtained an expulsion order.
Also, with an important decision, the Civil Court of Bologna, on 18 January 2023, recognised the right to access the procedure to a group of asylum seekers who, helped by the CIAC association, since August 2022 were denied access to the procedure and accommodation lacking a domicile.
Access to the procedure from detention
In practice, the possibility of accessing the asylum procedure inside a pre-removal detention centre (CPR) results limited due to the lack of appropriate legal information and assistance, and to administrative obstacles. In fact, according to the Reception Decree, people are informed about the possibility to seek international protection by the managing body of the centre.
As recorded by ASGI, in 2022, as in previous years, in many cases the detained, not informed of the possibility and the way to ask for asylum, could not express this will even before the Judge of the Peace (Giudice di Pace) at the hearing to validate the detention. Only in some cases they were able to submit the asylum request thanks to their lawyers after the detention order had been issued. This was possible, however, mainly in the CPRs, such as that of Gradisca, where mobiles are not seized.
Regarding the possibility to apply for asylum by applicants serving prison terms, ASGI recorded ample difficulties in recent years (see chapter on Detention of asylum seekers).
On 4 April 2020, the Civil Court of Turin accepted the appeal lodged by an asylum seeker detained at the Ivrea District House, ordering the Questura of Turin to register the asylum application. Although the applicant had expressed his will to seek asylum several times, the Questura did not proceed with the application and the detainee received an expulsion order to be executed at the end of the prison sentence.
On 14 October 2022, the Civil Court of Turin accepted the appeal lodged by an asylum seeker from Morocco who had obtained access to the asylum procedure just a few days before the end of his prison sentence. The Territorial Commission applied an accelerated procedure and evaluated the asylum request to be manifestly unfounded. Judging on the appeal presented by the applicant, the Court of Turin established that the applicant should be granted special protection, due to his long stay in Italy and to the family ties created in the country.
 Article 1 Procedure Decree, as amended by the Reception Decree.
 Article 10(1-bis) Procedure Decree, as amended by the Reception Decree.
 Article 6 Procedure Decree.
 Article 3(1) PD 21/2015.
 Article 3(2) PD 21/2015.
 Article 26(2-bis) Procedure Decree, as amended by the Reception Decree.
 Verbale delle dichiarazioni degli stranieri che chiedono in Italia il riconoscimento dello status di rifugiato ai sensi della Convenzione di Ginevra, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2UWOLx2.
 Information provided by the EUAA, 28 February 2023.
 Information provided by the EUAA, 28 February 2023.
 Article 4(1) Reception Decree.
 Court of Cassation, decision no. 18189/2020 dd. 25.6.2020.
 Altreconomia, L’asilo negato in questura: ecco le prove degli ostacoli alla procedura, 1 November 2022, avilable at: bit.ly/3kxCRbJ.
 Article 1 Reception Decree, which entitles destitute asylum seekers to access the housing measure from the manifestation of the will to seek asylum; Article 4(4) which states that access to reception conditions and the issuance of the residence permit are not subject to additional requirements to those expressly stated by the Decree itself; Article 5(1) Reception Decree, which clarifies that the obligation to inform the police of the domicile or residence is fulfilled by the applicant by means of a declaration, to be made at the moment of the application for international protection and that the address of the reception centres and pre-removal detention centres (CPR) are to be considered the place of residence of asylum applicants who effectively live in these centres. Article 5(2), according to which the address is also valid for the notification of any kind of communication of any act concerning the asylum procedure.
 See Meltingpot, Milano, in via Cagni il diritto di asilo è ostacolato e selettivo”, 13 February 2023, available at: bit.ly/3ZspwjB.
 Corriere, “Milano, il caso via Cagni: migranti in coda ogni lunedì per la richiesta di asilo, risse e malori. Sala: «Situazione indegna»”, 21 February 2023, available at: bit.ly/3ZaXSYG; Repubblica, Le code infinite per i richiedenti asilo in via Cagni ora sono un caso: interverranno questore e prefetto”, available at: bit.ly/3II02rO.
 Civil Court of Milan, decision of 28 March 2023.
 Information provided by the Questura available at: bit.ly/42QXP63.
 Civil Court of Milan, decision of 9 May 2023.
 Civil Court of Rome, Decision of 31 March 2023
 Civil Court of Trieste, Decision of 24 March 2023
 See Meltingpot, I richiedenti asilo hanno diritto a documenti e accoglienza, Hanuary 2023, available at bit.ly/42MnRad.
 Article 6(4) Reception Decree.
 Civil Court of Turin, Order 4 April 2020.
 Civil Court of Turin, decision of 14 October 2022.