Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions


Country Report: Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions Last updated: 31/05/23


The Reception Decree sets out the reception standards for third-country nationals making an application for international protection on the territory, including at the borders and in the transit zones or in Italian territorial waters.[1]

It provides that reception conditions apply from the moment a third-country national manifests their will to apply for international protection and declares that they have no economic means to guarantee theirs and their family’s survival,[2] without establishing additional requirements to access to reception measures.[3] The criteria of destitution is to be evaluated by the Prefecture, by making a comparison between the financial resources of the applicant(s) and the amount of the annual social allowance (assegno sociale annuo).[4]

In practice, no assessment of financial resources is carried out when the asylum seeker makes his application, or even when he accesses the system; both Prefectures and the SAI Central Service customarily consider the self-declaration as sufficient. However, during the accommodation period, Prefectures are required to verify that the conditions, including economic conditions, which have determined access still occur. In 2022, along with previous years, this has resulted in a worrying number of withdrawals of reception conditions (see below).

As already mentioned, government centres and temporary centres (CARA, CAS and CdA) can only accommodate asylum seekers. SAI facilities, instead, are opened  to beneficiaries of international protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection), unaccompanied foreign minors and, in case of available places, to asylum seekers and to holders of the following national permits and complementary protections[5]:

  • Special Protection (Consolidated Act on Immigration, Article 19 (1 and 1.1) a Legislative Decree 251/2007, Article 16)
  • Medical treatment (Consolidated Act on Immigration, Article 19 (2 d-bis)
  • Social protection for trafficking in human beings (Consolidated Act on Immigration, Article 18)
  • Social protection for domestic violence (Consolidated Act on Immigration, Article 18-bis)
  • Disaster (Consolidated Act on Immigration, Article 20-bis)
  • Significant labour exploitation (Consolidated Act on Immigration, Article 22 (12-quater)
  • Acts of exceptional civil value (Consolidated Act on Immigration, Article 42-bis)
  • Special cases (D.L. 113/2018, Article 1 (9).

Applicants for international protection subject to a Dublin procedure (both incoming and outgoing) can access the reception system at the same conditions as the other asylum seekers.[6]

Access to the reception system may follow different procedures.

  • In the case of an asylum seeker who has just landed on Italian territory after Search and rescue operations, access to the system is, so to speak, automatic. However, due to the so called hotspot approach and to the use of informative sheets (“foglio notizie”) not translated nor explained to migrants, it is not rare that people who would have expressed their intention to seek asylum are sent to CPRs [7]. When accommodated, the following placement of the host follows a national and regional dispersion policy, which should follow agreed criteria.[8]
  • In cases where the asylum seeker interested in receiving reception is already present in the national territory, the request to access the system is processed by the State Police office where he is or where he has a domicile.
  • Finally, in the event that the people who need access to the reception system are already holders of a permit for protection, they must contact the SAI Central Service, through the local Prefecture, or through the CAS/SAI managing bodies, by lawyers, or by other public or private bodies. However, the reporting procedures are far from perfect and the cases in which reports are made several times at once by different subjects, with the result that the Central Service is not able to work them correctly, are quite frequent. Moreover, the pace at which the Central Service works a request and assigns the place in reception is often very slow, mostly due to communication problems, to the point that migrants often opt to directly present themselves at a SAI project and ask for admission, rather than waiting for an assignment from the central offices. In fact, as has recently emerged,[9] the Central Service does not count the number of requests for access it receives, which makes allocating the available posts according to set priority criteria quite challenging given the large amount of requests. Besides this, not all Prefectures consider that they should report to the SAI the presence of beneficiaries of protection in their territory of competence, and, in the best case, Prefectures only report the transfer in SAI people that are already accommodated in CAS activated by them in their territories. The Ministry of the Interior periodically (most recently in August 2022) sends operational indications to the Prefectures on reporting regarding reception in SAI.


Reception and obstacles to accessing the asylum procedure

Barriers to access to reception in Italy mostly depend on two main factors:

  1. Bureaucratic and administrative obstacles to access to the international protection procedure.
  2. Shortage of available places and management issues within the various levels of the reception system.
  3. As described in detail in the Procedures chapter, for years, the Italian Police Headquarters (Questure) have put in place various strategies aimed at limiting and delaying access to the asylum procedure for people who spontaneously show up at the offices. These practices, which intensify with increasing numbers of requests for protection (both at the general national level and at the level of the individual Questura), also have direct consequences on another right of applicants, namely the right to reception conditions. While applicants are often forced to wait months to file their asylum applications, the same if not worse applies to making a request for access to reception conditions. Indeed, the path to obtain accommodation is even longer and more tortuous, even though by law asylum seekers are entitled to material reception conditions immediately after manifesting the will to apply for asylum (making phase), access to reception facilities is often postponed at least after the actual registration and lodging of the application by State Police.[10] Only after being registered, migrants can request access to reception facilities; even then, they are frequently required to wait for some additional weeks, sleeping rough or in makeshift lodgings or resorting to members of the same community, if and when they can afford it.[11]
  4. The shortage of places in the reception system is a recurring issue in Italy, especially as, due to policies aimed at reducing public spending and a strong lack of medium-long-term planning (see the Management and Coordination paragraph), the total number of places in the system continues to decrease, and emergency situations are registered each Summer. In particular in 2022, despite the system being close to full capacity at the beginning of the year -also due to the continuous arrival of refugees from Ukraine-, a sufficient increase in places was not foreseen. For this reason, the system quickly became saturated, and Prefectures started refusing requests for access to reception, or in some cases ignoring them and leaving them unattended. A recent inquiry by the magazine Altreconomia[12] estimated that, in a situation where thousands of asylum seekers are left without access to reception measures, as the Italian Government has declared on several occasions that “there are no more places available in the system(s)”, at least 5 thousands seats were being held unoccupied in 2022 as a reserve for unexpected arrivals through disembarkation events.

On 31 July 2020 the Roja Camp in Ventimiglia, managed by the Italian Red Cross at the land border with France, was closed.[13] Being the only formal place of accommodation for people in transit, its closure led to the proliferation of informal settlements and the occupation of public spaces to deal with winter nights. The facilities provided by the local Caritas were able to guarantee only a limited number of places for single parents and children.[14]

As reported by Refugees Rights Europe and Progetto 20K, after the closure of Roja Camp “no alternative solution has been put in place and people have once again started to gather in informal settlements around the city”. [15]

In November 2021, the imminent opening in Ventimiglia of a centre for people in transit was announced during a visit in Ventimiglia by the Chief of the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration.[16] More than one year later, no reception centre has been opened and issues are still arising.[17] The situation at the Italian-French border was further complicated in November 2022, when the French Government, in response to the docking of the Ocean Viking in Toulon,[18] and again later in April 2023, in anticipation of a potential increase in arrivals in Italy,[19] decided to further strengthen internal border controls by increasing police presence, carrying out systematic checks on vehicles in transit from Italy[20] and increasing the number of pushbacks, also against the unaccompanied minors.[21]

While people took refuge in makeshift camps near the railroad, which are frequently cleared by police forces[22] and more recently were rendered illegal through a Decree from the responsible Mayor,[23] on 7 March 2023 local authorities and stakeholders established that a camp was no longer necessary; in its place, they decided to set up “points of widespread assistance” (punti di assistenza diffusa, PAD). According to the statements of the new Prefect of Imperia,[24] ”a network of mini-centres should be established, scattered throughout the territory, within a system already in place, without creating other structures and facilities. The system could also be extended to include night opening, to guarantee to people who are rejected at the French border, above all women and children, at least temporary accommodation in more dignified conditions than the current ones”. Judging from what has emerged so far, these assistance points should be intended to provide temporary reception, for no more than a few nights. The first four “PADs” should be opened in April 2023 and work as pilots, with the collaboration of Caritas, the Red Cross and the Diocese of Ventimiglia and Sanremo, following the forthcoming signature of a formal agreement between the Prefecture and the Municipality of Ventimiglia, concerning the commitments, including economic, of both entities. These four facilities are to be specifically focused on the temporary reception of vulnerable migrants (families with children and fragile individuals) who have been pushed back by French Police.[25] It believed that these mini-facilities will be mostly insufficient to handle the large numbers of migrants camped in the area, forced to work illegally or prostitute themselves to pay passeurs to be able to cross the border; to address these criticalities, reopening a proper transit centre would be necessary.[26] According to data collected by Diaconia Valdese, more than 3,200 people passed through Ventimiglia between July and December 2022. The Diocese of Imperia provides thirteen beds per night, insufficient compared to the number of people present on the territory. Since 2020, after the closure of the Roja Camp, families in transit and single women find shelter in a house provided by Caritas and managed by Diaconia Valdese and WeWorld, where migrants can remain up to four nights and decide whether to remain in Italy or try to cross into French territory.[27] This shelter has provided temporary accommodation to 787 families, for a total of 2,278 destitute migrants from 37 countries, between 2020 and November 2022. [28]The Caritas Centre, near which one of the PADs will be activated, records around 150 accesses of migrants in need per day.[29] Save the Children, which has been present and active in Ventimiglia since 2018, opened in March 2021, together with Caritas Intemelia, a “Child-Sized Space” to give children transiting through with their families a calm space for recreation.[30]


Reception of applicants subject to accelerated procedures

Italian legislation does not provide for specific or differentiated reception forms for asylum seekers who are subjected to one of the many forms of accelerated procedure. At the administrative level, however, it was possible to observe at least two practices.

  • Asylum seekers subject to border procedures[31] should preferably be placed in reception centres located in the provinces within the territorial scope of the competent Territorial Commission (first instance deciding body). The Ministry of Interior has expressly provided for this possibility[32], following the identification of border areas or transit, made by Ministerial Decree of 5 August 2019. The provinces affected by this mechanism are those identified as border or transit areas, namely Trieste, Gorizia, Crotone, Cosenza, Matera, Taranto, Lecce, Brindisi, Caltanissetta, Ragusa, Siracusa, Catania, Messina, Trapani, Agrigento, Metropolitan City of Cagliari, South Sardinia.
  • Asylum seekers from non-EU countries on the list of Safe Countries of Origin[33] arriving by sea in Southern Italy are often excluded from ministerial transfers to other areas of the country and are instead placed in reception facilities situated close to the places of arrival, where the registration of the asylum application and the initiation of the accelerated procedure take place quickly. Moreover, it is quite rare for asylum seekers of certain nationalities, such as Tunisia or Morocco, who have also arrived in large numbers in certain periods, to be placed in reception centres in northern Italy, following ministerial transfers. The same would seem to be the case for asylum seekers of Egyptian nationality, who, although not coming from a country considered “safe” and therefore not generally subject to formal accelerated procedures, are often accommodated in southern Italy for the time necessary to assess their claim.[34] The areas affected by this practice of differential reception would once again be those close to the major landing points, namely the regions of Sicily and Calabria.

It appears clear that the rationale behind these practices is to avoid transfers of people who are likely to be returned or, if they initiate an asylum procedure, will rapidly receive a negative decision. On the contrary, the concentration of these people in places identified for this purpose by the Administration can facilitate and speed up the procedures of identification and forced readmission.

In this sense, the Government seems to have intended to implement, by purely administrative means, and expanding its scope, the provisions of Article 43(3) of the recast Procedures Directive, where it is provided that “In the event of arrivals involving a large number of third-country nationals or stateless persons lodging applications for international protection at the border or in a transit zone, which makes it impossible in practice to apply there the provisions of paragraph 1, those procedures may also be applied where and for as long as these third-country nationals or stateless persons are accommodated normally at locations in proximity to the border or transit zone.”

It is understood that these practices can be implemented when it is possible to maintain a certain number of places “reserved” for this type of reception. Considering the almost complete saturation of all reception centres in the country that occurred between the end of 2022 and the first months of 2023, they are likely to be suspended in the near future.


Reception at second instance

Regarding appellants, the Reception Decree provides that accommodation is ensured until a decision is taken by the Territorial Commission (the first instance deciding authority) and, in case of a rejection of the asylum application, until the expiration of the timeframe to lodge an appeal before the Civil Court. When the appeal has automatic suspensive effect, accommodation is guaranteed to the appellant, until the court gives judgement.

However, when appeals have no automatic suspensive effect, the applicant can request an ad hoc suspension to the Court and remain in the reception centre until a decision on the suspensive request is taken by the competent judge. If this request receives a positive answer, then, the applicant is authorised to stay in the Italian territory for the rest of the procedure and has the right to remain in the reception centre where he or she already lives.[35] Where the appeal is made by an applicant detained in a detention centre requesting the suspensive effect of the order, in case it is accepted by the judge, the person remains in detention or, if detention grounds are no longer valid, he or she is transferred to governmental reception centres.[36]

Concerning reception during onward appeals, following Decree Law 13/2017, implemented by L 46/2017, the withdrawal of accommodation to asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected at first appeal has become very common. Usually Courts do not recognise the suspensive effect of the appeal in a short time frame; additionally, it is extremely difficult to obtain a positive decision in this respect (see Regular Procedure: Appeal).




[1] Article 1(1) Reception Decree.

[2] Article 1(2) Reception Decree.

[3] Article 4(4) Reception Decree.

[4] Article 14(1) and (3) Reception Decree. The Social Allowance is an economic contribution of a welfare nature provided by the National Institute for Social Security (Istituto Nazionale di Previdenza Sociale, INPS) for 13 months to all those who are in poor economic conditions. For the year 2022, the amount corresponded to € 6,097.39 and corresponds to € 6,542.51 for 2023.

[5] Article 1-sexies(1) Decree Law 416/1989, as modified by Decree Law 130/2020.

[6] Article 1(3) Reception Decree. For more information about access to reception for Dublin transferees, please see the relevant paragraph in the Procedures chapter.

[7] The hotspot procedure, to which most people disembarked are subjected, is known to force some individuals into irregularity, to the extent that some migrants are systematically prevented from seeking asylum. This, of course, also produces an immediate exclusion from reception conditions. For more information, see the Procedures chapter.

[8] See paragraph 4.1 “Dispersal of asylum seekers”, page XXXX.

[9] See Altreconomia, Scarsa programmazione, posti vuoti e persone al freddo: così ai migranti è negata l’accoglienza, 8 February 2023, available at:

[10] In Italy, the registration and lodging phases are integrated into one step.

[11] For more information, see MSF, Fuori campo, February 2018, available in Italian at:; Fuori campo, March 2016, available in Italian at:, 11; ANCI et al., Rapporto sulla protezione internazionale in Italia, 2014, available in Italian at:, 124.

[12] Altreconomia, Inchiesta sull’accoglienza selettiva: chi arriva in Italia via terra resta fuori, in Altreconomia 254, December 2022, available at:

[13] Parole sul confine, “Il Campo Roja di Ventimiglia ha definitivamente chiuso”, 24 August 2020, available at:

[14] See ASGI, Medea project, 21 February 2021, available at:

[15] Refugees Rights Europe and Progetto 20K the Exacerbation of a crisis, impact of the Covid19 on people on the move at the Italian- French border, July 2021, available at:, 12.

[16] Ministry of Interior, A Ventimiglia un centro di transito per accogliere i migranti, 19 November 2021, available at:

[17] See Repubblica, Migranti, a Ventimiglia è di nuovo emergenza e la campagna elettorale si tiene a debita distanza, September 1st 2022, available at: See also Il Fatto Quotidiano, Nel limbo di Ventimiglia tra i migranti respinti dalla Francia e accampati al confine. Associazione: “Serve centro di transito”, 25 December 2022, available at: For a comprehensive study on the situation of Ventimiglia, see: Aru, Abandonment, Agency, Control: Migrants’ Camps in Ventimiglia, in Antipode, Vol. 53 No. 6 2021, available at:

[18] See Sky TG24, Migranti, Ocean Viking a Tolone per lo sbarco. Continua scontro Italia-Francia, November 11th 2022, available at: See also Euronews, Caso-migranti: a Ventimiglia la frontiera italo-francese è blindata, 14 November 2022, available at:

[19] See Repubblica, Ventimiglia, Parigi blinda il confine e l’estate fa paura: “Così più guai per migranti e città, lo Stato ci ha dimenticato”, 27 April 2023, available at:

[20] See Sky TG24, Migranti, Ocean Viking a Tolone per lo sbarco. Continua scontro Italia-Francia, November 11th 2022, available at: See also Euronews, Caso-migranti: a Ventimiglia la frontiera italo-francese è blindata, 14 November 2022, available at:

[21] Source: Infomigrants, France sending unaccompanied minors back to Italy, MSF, 9 May 2023, available at:

[22] See Sanremonews, Ventimiglia, sgombero accampamento migranti sotto il cavalcavia di San Secondo: conclusi gli interventi di bonifica, February 14th 2023, available at: See also Sanremonews, Ventimiglia: dopo il controllo straordinario delle forze dell’ordine operazione di pulizia alle Gianchette, 27 April 2023, available at:

[23] See Riviera24, Lotta al degrado, il commissario De Lucia firma ordinanza anti-bivacco a Ventimiglia, 23 March 2023, available at:

[24] See Secolo XIX, Emergenza migranti a Ventimiglia, l’accoglienza diffusa è la nuova strategia, March 8th 2023, available at:

[25] See Prefettura di Imperia, Gestione migranti a Ventimiglia, il piano della prefettura di Imperia, 24 March 2023, available at:

[26] See Sanremonews, Ventimiglia: il candidato dei progressisti Maria Spinosi ne è certa “Bisogna riaprire il campo Roya per i migranti’, available in Italian at: See also Repubblica, Ventimiglia, manca ancora un centro di accoglienza e i migranti si accampano sotto i ponti, 13 April 2023, available in Italian at:

[27] See Vita, Ventimiglia, il buco nero di chi migra via terra, March 7th 2023, available at:

[28] See Vie di Fuga, A Ventimiglia, “quando il sole cala e l’insicurezza si fa più forte”, 16 November 2022, available at:

[29] Source: Il Secolo XIX, Centro per migranti fragili nell’ex Isola dei ragazzi, 28 March 2023, available at:

[30] See Save the Children, A Ventimiglia un nuovo spazio per bambini in transito, 26 March 2021, available at: For the news in English, see Infomigrants, Ventimiglia space for migrant children set up, 30 March 2021, available at:

[31] As per Article 28-bis (2 b) of Legislative Decree 25/2008, border procedures are due when requests for international protection are made by foreigners directly at the border or in transit zones, only where they have been apprehended for circumventing or attempting to circumvent the relevant controls. See the Procedures chapter.

[32] See Circular Letter from MoI DCLI n. 8560 of 16 October 2019.

[33] As per Article 28-bis (2 c) of Legislative Decree 25/2008, SCO accelerated procedures are due when the application for international protection is made by a foreigner from a non-EU country of origin designated as “safe”.

[34] Egyptian citizens were the most numerous nationality in terms of arrivals by sea in 2022, with a total of 20,542. See MoI Cruscotto Statistico Giornaliero, 31 December 2022, available at: Egypt is also one of the main countries to which Italy has carried out forced returns in the last years, thanks to a particularly rapid and informal procedure provided for in the repatriation agreements between Italy and Egypt, see Vita, Rimpatri forzati: nel 2021 i charter partono soprattutto verso Tunisia ed Egitto, 1 October 2021, available in Italian at: See also CILD, LasciateCIEntrare ci racconta l’orrore nei CPR italiani, 5 December 2022, available in Italian at:

[35] Article 14(4) Reception Decree.

[36] Article 14(5) Reception Decree.

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