|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||29 caseworkers||Ministry of Interior and Administration||Yes|
The Office for Foreigners (OFF) is the authority responsible for examining applications for international protection and competent to take decisions at first instance. The number of caseworkers in 2021 was 29 (in comparison to 25 in 2020), who were responsible for conducting interviews and examining applications for international protection.
Caseworkers are trained in 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. In 2020 the number of such staff members was 21. In 2021 this information has not been provided upon request.
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. 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 centre and through inspections that are conducted twice a year (see Housing). Asylum seekers can complain to the OFF about the situation in the centres.
 Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2021.
 Article 17 of the Law on Foreigners.