Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority

Poland

Country Report: Number of staff and nature of the first instance authority Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Independent

Name in English

Number of staff

 

Ministry responsible

Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the determining authority?

Office for Foreigners

413

Ministry of Interior and Administration

 Yes   No

The Office for Foreigners (OFF) is the authority responsible for examining applications for international protection and competent to take decisions at first instance. According to information provided by the OFF on 16 July 2019, the total number of staff amounted to 413 officials, out of whom the large majority were permanent staff (363 permanent staff and 50 temporary staff). However, only 34 caseworkers are responsible for conducting interviews and examining asylum claims, out of whom a majority are female caseworkers (82% female caseworkers compared to 18% male caseworkers). The number of caseworkers went down from 45 in 2016 to 36 in 2018, along with the significant decrease of the number of asylum applicants (12,305 in 2016 to 5,045 in 2017 and 4,110 in 2018). As of March 2020, there were 28 caseworkers.

Caseworkers are trained on all aspects of the asylum procedure, in particular drafting of decisions and conducting interviews. The training is provided internally as well as through the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). In addition, training for staff members conducted by UNHCR is envisaged, although no further information is available on which topics. Specific training is also provided by psychologists and EASO to staff members of the Department on Proceedings for International Protection on interviewing vulnerable groups immediately upon recruitment. Although there is no specialised unit for vulnerable groups within the OFF, only qualified staff members are allowed to decide on applications from persons with special needs.

As regards the internal structure of the OFF, the Department on Proceedings in International Protection of the OFF is divided into three units handling regular procedures, while one unit is responsible for accelerated and inadmissibility procedures. The OFF has established geographical departments, whereby the Department on Proceedings for International Protection is divided into Units handling asylum applications from persons originating from Chechnya (Unit II), from the former Soviet Union (Unit IV) and from other countries (Unit III).

The Head of the Office for Foreigners is appointed by the Prime Minister, upon the request of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, among persons applying via open call.[1] There is no regular monitoring of the decisions, but in practice caseworkers fill in a special questionnaire which is made available to the Heads of Units and Departments of the OFF to review their activities. There is no quality control mechanism after a decision has been issued by the OFF, however. Monitoring can be conducted at any time by the responsible Ministry or the Supreme Chamber of Control (Najwyższa Izba Kontroli). According to the Office for Foreigners, the Ministry cannot be involved in any way in the decision making process e.g. by issuing binding instructions or by intervening in specific individual cases. In high profile cases, an intervention is probable according to NGO lawyers working on specific cases.

It should be further noted that another activity covered by the OFF are reception facilities for asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection. The OFF is thus responsible for the management of all the reception centres. While the OFF has delegated this responsibility to civil-society organisations and private contractors, it monitors the situation in the centres through the Office’s employees working in the centres and through inspections that are conducted twice a year. Asylum seekers can complain to the OFF about the situation in the centres. As of December 2019, there were 29 officials of the Office for Foreigners working in the centres.

 


[1]           Article 17 of the Law on Foreigners.

 

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