According to Italian law, there is no formal timeframe for making an asylum application. The intention to make an asylum application may be expressed orally by the applicant in his or her language with the assistance of a linguistic-cultural mediator. However, asylum seekers should make their application as soon as possible. Immigration legislation prescribes, as a general rule, a deadline of 8 days from arrival in Italy for migrants to present themselves to the authorities.
The asylum application can be made either at the border police office or within the territory at the provincial Immigration Office (Ufficio immigrazione) of the Police (Questura), where fingerprinting and photographing (fotosegnalamento) are carried out. In case the asylum application is made at the border, the Border Police invites asylum seekers to present themselves at the Questura for formal registration. Police authorities cannot examine the merits of the asylum application. However, following the 2018 reform, the Questure declare under certain circumstances the Subsequent Application automatically inadmissible.
During the registration, the Questura asks the asylum seeker questions related to the Dublin Regulation and contacts the Dublin Unit of the Ministry of Interior to verify whether Italy is the Member State responsible for the examination of the asylum application. Specifically in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the Questura does not proceed to the lodging of the application if the Dublin Regulation is applicable.
After the lodging (verbalizzazione) of the application, the Questura sends the formal registration form and the documents concerning the asylum application to the Territorial Commissions or sub-Commissions for International Protection located throughout the national territory, the only authorities competent for the substantive asylum interview. The asylum seeker is then notified of the interview date in front of the Territorial Commission by the Questura.
According to the Procedure Decree, a member of the Territorial Commission interviews the applicant within 30 days after having received the application and the Commission decides in the 3 following working days. The decision is taken following a panel discussion between all members of the Commission. When the Territorial Commission is unable to take a decision in the time limit and needs to acquire new elements, the examination procedure is concluded within six months of the lodging of the application.
However, the Territorial Commission may extend the time limit for a period not exceeding a further nine months, where: (a) complex issues of fact and/or law are involved; (b) a large number of asylum applications are made simultaneously; (c) the delay can clearly be attributed to the failure of the applicant to comply with his or her obligations of cooperation. By way of exception, in duly justified circumstances, the Territorial Commission may further exceed this time limit by three months where necessary in order to ensure an adequate and complete examination of the application for international protection. In the light of the different possibilities of extension, the asylum procedure may last for a maximum period of 18 months.
According to ASGI’s experience, due to the large number of simultaneous applications, the 30-day time limit is rarely respected in practice, and the asylum seeker is never informed about the authorities’ exceeding of the deadline.
Prioritised and accelerated procedures
The Procedure Decree provides for an accelerated procedure and a prioritised procedure. The President of the Territorial Commission identifies the cases under the prioritised procedure.
With the 2018 reform, the border procedure was established for applicants making an asylum application directly at the border or in transit areas after having been apprehended for evaded or attempting to evade border controls. The border procedure also applies to asylum seekers who come from a designated Safe Country of Origin. In this case the entire procedure can be carried out directly at the border or in the transit area.
Border and transit areas for the accelerated examination of asylum applications were identified by ministerial decree of 5 August 2019. The list of safe countries of origin has been adopted by decree of the Minister of Foreign Affairs on 4 October 2019, in agreement with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice. It includes: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Ghana, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Morocco, Montenegro, Senegal, Serbia, Tunisia and Ukraine.
Since its entry into force, the border procedure has also been applied to the internal border of Friuli Venezia Giulia for arrivals by land and to the Coastal borders to people disembarked from small boats, considering them as people who avoided or tried to avoid the border controls.
Asylum seekers can appeal a negative decision issued by the Territorial Commission within 30 days before the competent Civil Court. Following Decree Law 13/2017, there are specialised court sections competent for examining asylum appeals.
Applicants placed in detention facilities and applicants whose application is examined under the accelerated procedure, on the basis of Article 28-bis(2) of the Procedure Decree, have only 15 days to lodge an appeal.
After the entry into force of Decree Law 13/2017, the decision of the civil court (first appeal) can only be challenged in law before the Court of Cassation (final appeal) within 30 days. Before the reform, the decision of the civil court could also be appealed in fact and law in front of the Court of Appeal, within 30 days of the notification of the decision.
 Article 3(1) PD 21/2015.
 Article 3(2) PD 21/2015.
 Article 4 Procedure Decree, as amended by LD 220/2017.
 Article 27 Procedure Decree.
 Article 27 Procedure Decree.
 Article 28(1)(c) and (1-bis) Procedure Decree.
 Article 28-bis(1-ter) Procedure Decree, as amended by Article 9(1) Decree Law 113/2018.
Article 19(3) LD 150/2011.