Cessation and review of protection status

Poland

Country Report: Cessation and review of protection status Last updated: 16/04/21

Author

Independent

Poland has a single procedure (“deprivation”) for the cessation and/or withdrawal of international protection.

Refugee status is ceased if a foreigner:[1]

  1. Has voluntarily settled in the country, which he or she had left for fear of persecution;
  2. Has voluntarily accepted protection of a country he or she is a citizen of;
  3. Has voluntarily accepted the citizenship of the country of origin, which he or she had lost before;
  4. Has acquired new citizenship and he or she is under the protection of the state whose citizen he or she has become;
  5. Can no longer refuse to accept the protection of the country of origin, because the reasons why he or she was granted a refugee status no longer exist, and he or she did not present convincing arguments as to why he or she cannot accept this protection. The same applies to countries of habitual residence for stateless persons.

Subsidiary protection is ceased, if the circumstances which were the reason for granting subsidiary protection no longer exist or have changed in such a way that a foreigner no longer requires protection.[2]

The cessation procedure is initiated by the Head of the Office for Foreigners ex officio or on other authorities’ demand.[3] Asylum seeker should be informed about the initiation of the respective proceedings as soon as they started. The procedure should last no longer than 6 months.[4] During the procedure a refugee or a subsidiary protection beneficiary should be interviewed, particularly in order to present reasons as to why he or she should not be deprived of the protection. A foreigner can also present arguments in writing.[5]

A decision on deprivation of international protection is issued by the Head of the Office for Foreigners and can be appealed to the Refugee Board with suspensive effect. A foreigner should leave Poland within 30 days from the day of the delivery of the Refugee Board’s decision on cessation of international protection. In the same period, he or she can make the complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw. This onward appeal does not entail automatic suspensive effect but a foreigner can request the court to suspend final decision on deprivation of international protection. However, it takes sometimes even a couple of months to suspend the decision by court on the foreigner’s demand. During that period a foreigner stays illegally in Poland, so return proceedings may be initiated against him/her and a removal may be enforced.

Only some refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries are entitled to free legal assistance in cessation proceedings, namely those whose income is not higher than 100% of the criteria qualifying them to social assistance.[6] Free legal assistance is only provided in the appeal proceedings; it does not include the first-instance procedure.[7] Before the court, the foreigner can apply for free legal assistance by lawyer following the general rules (see Legal assistance).

A foreigner who was deprived of international protection is obliged to return the residence card immediately to the Head of the Office for Foreigners, no later than 14 days from the moment when a decision concerning cessation of the international protection becomes final.[8]

There is no systematic review of the protection status in Poland.

There is a single procedure in Poland that includes the cessation and withdrawal of international protection. In consequence, the beneficiary may receive a decision on a deprivation of international protection, as it is called in Poland, which can be issued on the grounds justifying only a cessation or only a withdrawal or both. The Office for Foreigners shares the data on a general number of ‘deprivations’ and how often the exact legal basis was used in the respective decisions. From 2016 to 2020, the total number of persons deprived international protection as a result of a cessation or withdrawal procedure was as follows:

Number of persons deprived of international protection (ceased and/or withdrawn)
  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Deprivation of refugee status 8 0 11 6 12
Deprivation of subsidiary protection 21 80 157 100 95

Source: Office for Foreigners.

The above figures do not distinguish between cessation and withdrawal procedures as both fall under the category “deprivation of international protection” in the statistics shared by the OFF. Nevertheless, based on an analysis of the grounds used to deprive international protection, cessation and withdrawal procedures seem to have been applied in recent years as follows: in 2018, 11 foreigners (incl. 9 citizens of Russia) had their refugee status ceased (10 refugees) or withdrawn (1 person) and 157 (incl. 154 citizens of Russia) had their subsidiary protection ceased (153 beneficiaries) and/or withdrawn (13).[9] In 2019, 6 decisions on a cessation of a refugee status were issued (incl. 5 citizens of Russia) and 100 (all concerning citizens of Russia) – on deprivation of subsidiary protection (97 ceased and 11 withdrawn).[10] In 2020, 95 Russian citizens had their subsidiary protection ceased (94) and/or withdrawn (4). In 12 cases the refugee status was ceased (11 Russian citizens, 1 Sri Lankan national).[11]

As regards the grounds for depriving international protection, the following cessation grounds were applied in 2020:

Grounds for cessation of international protection in 2020
Cessation of refugee status  
The beneficiary voluntarily settled in the country, which he or she had left for fear of persecution. 1 (Russia)
The beneficiary voluntarily accepted protection of a country he or she is a citizen of 11 (Russia)
The beneficiary can no longer refuse to accept the protection of the country of origin, because the reasons why he or she was granted a refugee status no longer exist, and he or she did not present convincing arguments as to why he or she cannot accept this protection. The same applies to countries of habitual residence for stateless persons. 1 (Sri Lanka)
Cessation of subsidiary protection  
The circumstances which were the reason for granting subsidiary protection no longer exist or have changed in such a way that a foreigner no longer requires protection 94 (Russia)

Source: Authors of this report based on an analysis of the statistics shared by the Office for Foreigners.

 

As mentioned above, the OFF does not distinguish between cessation and withdrawal procedures. The table above was thus created by the authors of this report based on an analysis of the grounds used by the OFF to deprive international protection with the aim to provide an overview of the most applied grounds in practice.

These figures reveal that mostly Russian Federation citizens are deprived of international protection in Poland. Cessation is not systematically applied to them, however. 66 Russian citizens obtained international protection in Poland in 2020, 76 in 2019, 70 in 2018, 86 in 2017 and 67 in 2016.[12] In 2018-2020 Russian citizens were deprived of refugee status predominantly because of the fact that they have voluntarily accepted protection of the Russian Federation. They were deprived of subsidiary protection predominantly due to the fact that the circumstances which were the reason for granting subsidiary protection no longer existed or have changed in such a way that a foreigner no longer required protection (in 150 cases in 2018, 97 in 2019 and 94 in 2020).[13] HFHR concludes that Russian citizens have mostly been deprived of protection as a result of travel to their country of origin after they obtained international protection.[14] The finding is confirmed by the SIP. According to this NGO, returning to the country of origin – even only in order to obtain needed documents or to take care of ill family members – is a reason to deprive refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection of their status. The same effect may be entailed by obtaining a passport in the embassy of the country of origin. SIP also points out that beneficiaries of international protection are deprived protection due to a changed situation in Chechnya. However, in its opinion, both individual and general circumstances of those cases are not scrutinized sufficiently by Polish authorities.[15]

In 2018-2020 some Russian citizens were also deprived subsidiary protection because they were considered a security threat or there were serious grounds to believe that they committed a crime (see Withdrawal of protection status).[16]

In 2019, only one foreigner submitted a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw against a decision depriving him refugee status. His complaint was rejected.[17] Eleven foreigners complained to the court in 2019 against deprivation of subsidiary protection. The court dismissed 5 such complaints. None of the complaints in this regard was considered justified in 2019.[18] No data were made available for 2020.

In the judgment of 9 June 2017 (II OSK 904/17), the Supreme Administrative Court held that the administrative authorities entitled to cease or withdraw the refugee status cannot in those proceedings assess whether a foreigner should be granted subsidiary protection instead. In consequence, even when the authorities are aware of the reasons to grant subsidiary protection, they cannot do it ex officio, they can only deprive a foreigner of a refugee status, indirectly accepting that he may be send back to danger.[19]

 

[1] Article 21(1) Law on Protection.                  

[2] Article 22(1) Law on Protection.

[3] Article 54b Law on Protection.

[4] Article 54a Law on Protection.

[5] Article 54d(1) Law on Protection.

[6] Article 69d(2) Law on Protection.

[7] Article 69d Law on Protection.

[8] Article 89l(1) and (3) Law on Protection.

[9] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 15 January 2019.

[10] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 22 January 2020.

[11] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2021.

[12]  Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 1 February 2018, 15 January 2019, 22 January 2020 and 26 January 2021.

[13]  Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 15 January 2019, 22 January 2020 and 26 January 2021.

[14] This reasoning was confirmed by the Supreme Administrative Court in Decision No II OSK 1493/14, 23 February 2016: Lex.pl, ‘NSA: uchodźcy z Czeczenii muszą wrócić do kraju’, 26 February 2016, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2w3JQiM.

[15]M. Sadowska, ‘Pozbawienie cudzoziemca ochrony międzynarodowej w Polsce’ in SIP, Prawa cudzoziemców w Polsce w 2019 roku. Raport, 2020, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/3jT7weM, 24-25; A. Pulchny, ‘Pozbawienie cudzoziemca ochrony międzynarodowej w Polsce’ in Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej (SIP), SIP w działaniu. Prawa cudzoziemców w Polsce w 2018 r. (2019), available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2w3KcpC, 24-25.

[16] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 15 January 2019, 22 January 2020 and 26 January 2021.

[17] Information provided by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw, 15 January 2020.

[18] Ibid.

[19] A. Pulchny, ‘Pozbawienie cudzoziemca ochrony międzynarodowej w Polsce’ in Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej (SIP), SIP w działaniu. Prawa cudzoziemców w Polsce w 2018 r. (2019), available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2w3KcpC, 25.

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