The Chapter: Reception Conditions in Poland contains sections on:
A. Access and forms of reception conditions
- Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions
- Forms and levels of material reception conditions
- Reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions
- Freedom of movement
C. Employment and education
F. Information for asylum seekers and access to reception centres
Short overview of the reception system
The Office for Foreigners, supervised by the Ministry of Interior and Administration, is the main body responsible for the reception of asylum seekers in Poland.
Asylum seekers are entitled to material reception conditions during all asylum procedures in Poland. The provision of reception conditions does not depend on the financial situation of asylum seekers.
Material reception conditions are granted from the moment the asylum seeker registers in the reception centre, thus not straightaway after claiming asylum. Only medical assistance can be granted from the moment of claiming asylum (e.g. at the border), in special situations, i.e. in case of threat to life and health. Asylum seekers who cannot apply for asylum on the day they contact the Border Guard should be given a specific date and time when submitting the application will be possible. In this ‘waiting period’ they are not entitled to any material reception conditions.
Reception conditions are provided A) up until 2 months after a final positive decision on asylum; B) up until 14 days after a final decision discontinuing the asylum procedure (e.g. in admissibility procedures); C) up until 30 days after a final negative decision on asylum given on the merits by the Office for Foreigners or the Refugee Board. During the onward appeal proceedings, the material reception conditions may be re-granted only if the court suspends the execution of the asylum decision that has been appealed. It does not happen in all cases.
There are two forms of material reception conditions. The asylum seekers can live in the reception centre (managed by the Office for Foreigners or one of its contractors) or receive a financial allowance that should cover the expenses of living privately. Despite that under the law accommodation in the reception centre is a rule, usually more asylum seekers choose to receive a financial allowance rather than stay in the centre.
At the end of 2022, 9 reception centres operated in Poland, offering 1,714 places for asylum seekers. Throughout the year, on different dates, three centres served as the first-reception centres (located in Podkowa Leśna–Dębak Kolonia-Horbów and Biała Podlaska) and six functioned as accommodation centres (located in Białystok, Czerwony Bór, Bezwola, Łuków, Grupa and Linin). The Head of the Office for Foreigners is responsible for the management of all the centres. This authority can delegate its responsibility for managing the centres to social organisations, associations, private owners, companies etc. Currently, 5 reception centres are managed by private contractors. Overcrowding was not an issue reported in practice in 2022. The conditions in the centres have improved in recent years, although certain problems are still being reported such as the remote location of certain centres, which impedes the integration process of asylum seekers.
The amount of financial allowance that is granted to asylum seekers living outside the reception centres is not sufficient to cover all expenses of their stay in Poland or even to satisfy their basic needs. It is difficult to rent an apartment with this allowance.
The law allows for access to the labour market for asylum seekers after six months from the date of submission of an asylum application if a final decision has not been taken within this time and if the delay is not attributed to any fault of the asylum seeker. However, in practice, it is problematic for asylum seekers to find a job in Poland.
Asylum-seeking children have access to education in public schools. However, multiple problems are reported regarding access in practice.
Health care is provided to asylum seekers throughout asylum proceedings by the Petra Medica company. Asylum seekers can see a doctor or a psychologist in all reception centres. Psychological treatment available to asylum seekers is generally considered insufficient. Asylum seekers can also see other specialists but with some difficulty. Accessing costly specialized treatment is hampered. In general, the provision of medical assistance by the Petra Medica is criticised.