Asylum seekers are either accommodated in a reception centre or receive monthly financial allowance to cover all costs of their stay in Poland.
Under the law, the material reception conditions offered in the centre are granted as a rule to all asylum seekers. An asylum seeker can obtain assistance granted outside the centre upon request, examined by the Head of the Office for Foreigners. It can be granted for organisational, safety or family reasons or to prepare asylum seekers for an independent life after they have received any form of protection. Most of the requests are accepted. In 2020 and 2021, due to pandemic COVID-19, living outside the centres was encouraged.
All of the abovementioned reception conditions are applied in practice. As of 31 December 2021, 1,076 (compared to 819 in 2020) asylum seekers benefited from material reception conditions in the centres and 4,795 (compared to 2,225 in 2020) asylum seekers were granted assistance outside the centres.
All asylum seekers (living in and out the reception centre) can:
- attend Polish language course and receive basic material supplies necessary for the course;
- receive school supplies for children, including, as far as possible, the expenses for extra-curricular classes, sports and recreational activities;
- have the costs of public transport covered to (a) attend interviews as part of the asylum procedure; (b) medical examinations or vaccinations; or (c) in other particularly justified cases;
- receive medical care.
Living in the reception centre
For asylum seekers accommodated in reception centres, material conditions include:
- Meals in the centre or a financial equivalent (PLN 9 / 2.15 €) per day;
- Allowance for personal expenses of PLN 50 / 11.93 € per month;
- Permanent financial assistance of PLN 20 / 4.77 € per month for purchase of hygienic articles or hygienic utilities;
- One-time financial assistance or coupons of PLN 140 / 33.42 € for purchase of clothing and footwear.
70 PLN that asylum seekers receive every month (allowances for personal expenses and for hygienic articles or hygienic utilities) is not enough to satisfy their basic needs.
According to the law, in case an asylum seeker helps in a reception centre (i.e. performs cleaning work for the centre, provides translation or interpretation that facilitates communication between the personnel of the centre and asylum seekers, or provides cultural and educational activities for other asylum seekers who stay in the centre), the amount of the allowance for personal expenses may be raised to PLN 100 (23.24€). In 2021 this raise was applied 386 times.
Living outside the reception centre
For those assisted outside centres, there is one financial allowance for all costs of stay in Poland. This daily allowance depends on the family composition of the applicant:
|Financial allowance for all costs of stay in Poland (outside reception centres)|
|Family composition||Amount per day|
|Single adult||PLN 25 / 5.97 €|
|Two family members||PLN 20 / 4.77 €|
|Three family members||PLN 15 / 3.58 €|
|Four or more family members||PLN 12.50 / 2.98 €|
The amount of financial allowance that asylum seekers receive is generally not sufficient to ensure an adequate standard of living in Poland. With only PLN 750-775 (around 160-166 Euros) per month, it is very difficult or even impossible to rent an apartment or even a room in Warsaw, where most asylum seekers stay during the procedure, particularly taking into account that owners are often unwilling to rent an apartment to foreigners, especially asylum seekers, and tend to increase a rent or deposit in such situations. As the amount of financial allowance is insufficient for renting separate accommodation, asylum seekers are often forced to live in overcrowded and insecure places. Many of them sleep in overcrowded apartments, where they have to share beds with other people or where living conditions do not provide privacy and personal safety. Financial allowance for families of four amounts to PLN 1,500 (around 321 Euros) per month and in practice it may be enough only to rent an apartment, however with a great difficulty. Insufficient social assistance forces asylum seekers to work in Poland illegally in order to maintain and pay the rent. Situation worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many asylum seekers lost their jobs.
The amount of financial allowance is below the so called “social minimum” (indicator which evaluates the cost of living in Poland). The asylum seeker receives 1,5-2 times less than what is essential according to the “social minimum”. The amount of social assistance for asylum seekers has not been raised since 2003, even though the costs of living in Poland have increased significantly since then. As a result, material reception conditions are insufficient to ensure a decent standard of living as highlighted in the CJEU judgment in Saciri.
The financial allowance that asylum seekers receive is not adjusted to their state of health, age or disability, which is incompatible with Saciri. The system of granting material reception conditions for asylum seekers is separate from the general social assistance rules applicable to nationals. While social assistance for nationals is provided based on individual assessment of particular needs, the level of allowances offered to asylum seekers is generally standardized.
In 2020, SIP submitted a complaint to the European Commission that Poland is not abiding by its obligations stemming from Article 17(2) of the Reception Conditions Directive (2013/33/EU). SIP stressed that the amount of the financial allowance that is granted in Poland does not ‘provide an adequate standard of living for applicants, which guarantees their subsistence and protects their physical and mental health’. In consequence, asylum seekers may be forced to live in the extreme poverty or even their life can be in danger. Seemingly under the Commission’s pressure, the government started a legislative procedure to increase the allowances.
In 2021, the government announced its plans to increase the financial allowances given to asylum seekers. Following changes in law were indicated:
- Allowance for purchase of hygienic articles or hygienic utilities – PLN 30 (instead of PLN 20);
- Equivalent for meals in the centre – PLN 12 (instead of PLN 9) and
- Financial allowance for asylum seekers living outside receptions centres – PLN 776 per month (single persons) and PLN 600 (for a person in a family).
HFHR has noticed that the proposed changes are insufficient: PLN 30 is not enough to cover asylum seekers’ essential expenses, e.g. diapers, and the financial allowance for asylum seekers staying outside the reception centres is still below ‘social minimum’ and not adjusted to their special needs. The HFHR’s comments were not considered justified by the government. Moreover, despite the initial plan to introduce the increase on 1 January 2022, the ordinance in this regard has not been adopted yet (as of 29 April 2022).
 Article 72(1) Law on Protection.
 In 2020, 1,053 requests for the social assistance granted outside a centre were registered of which 937 were accepted (89%). In 2021, 2,347 requests were registered and all were accepted. Information from the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2021 and 26 January 2022.
 Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2021 and 26 January 2022.
 M. Pachocka, K. Pędziwiatr, K. Sobczak-Szelc, J. Szałańska (2020) ‘Reception Policies, Practices and Responses: Poland Country Report’, RESPOND Working Papers 2020/45, available at: http://bit.ly/3jLCvsV, 64, 84.
 Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2022.
 FRA, ‘Migration: Key Fundamental Rights Concerns: 1.7.2019-30.9.2019. Quarterly Bulletin’, 20, relying on the information from the HFHR and SIP. See also Lukasiewicz, K., ‘Exile to Poverty: Policies and Poverty Among Refugees in Poland’, International Migration Vol. 55 (6) 2017, 63-64.
 ‘List of recommendations to improve housing situation of Beneficiaries of International Protection in Poland – prepared by Refugee Council operating within the NIEM/V4NIEM’, 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3MmsyjI; W. Goszczyński, R. Baczyński-Sielaczek, J. Suchomska, J, Stankowska and M. Wróblewski. ‘Lokalne systemy integracji uchodźców – badania’ in Fundacja EMIC and Pracownia Zrównoważonego Rozwoju, Wielogłos. Integracja uchodźców w polskich gminach, 2016, avaialble (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/31srALw, 81.
 M. Pachocka, K. Pędziwiatr, K. Sobczak-Szelc, J. Szałańska, ‘Reception Policies, Practices and Responses: Poland Country Report’, 2020, RESPOND Working Papers 2020/45, available at: http://bit.ly/3jLCvsV, 56-58; W. Klaus, ‘Rozwiązania prawne stosowane w odniesieniu do osób starających się o ochronę w Polsce’ in A. Górny, H. Grzymała-Moszczyńska, W. Klaus and S. Łodziński, Uchodźcy w Polsce. Sytuacja prawna, skala napływu i integracja w społeczeństwie polskim oraz rekomendacje, PAN 2017, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2XEdsfZ, 22; Lukasiewicz, K., ‘Exile to Poverty: Policies and Poverty Among Refugees in Poland’, International Migration Vol. 55 (6) 2017, 63. Information provided also by SIP, 8 January 2020.
 Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej, A. Chrzanowska, I. Czerniejewska, ‘Mieszkamy tutaj, bo nie mamy innego wyjścia… Raport z monitoringu warunków mieszkaniowych uchodźców w Polsce, Analizy, raporty, ekspertyzy Nr 2/2015’, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/1Lq2Hie, 55. Information provided also by SIP, 8 January 2020.
 M.K. Nowak, ‘Poprosila o postojowe, zerwano umowe. Uchodzcy dzis nie maja na chleg, jutro straca mieszkanie,” 30 May 2020, available (in Polish) at:http://bit.ly/3b1D79R; D. Nowok, ‘O pomocy żywnościowej podczas pandemii i lockdownu, 19 January 2021, available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3tw3myp.
 W. Klaus, ‘Rozwiązania prawne stosowane w odniesieniu do osób starających się o ochronę w Polsce’ in A. Górny, H. Grzymała-Moszczyńska, W. Klaus and S. Łodziński, Uchodźcy w Polsce. Sytuacja prawna, skala napływu i integracja w społeczeństwie polskim oraz rekomendacje, PAN 2017, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/2DVccfr, 22.
 CJEU, Case C‑79/13 Saciri, Judgment of 27 February 2014.
 See e.g. the HFHR’s opinion concerning planned increase of financial allowances for asylum seekers, 24 September 2021, available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3vD2mv4.
 SIP, ‘Skarga do KE: rażąco niskie środki finansowe dla osób ubiegających się o udzielenie ochrony międzynarodowej’, 7 July 2020, available in Polish at: http://bit.ly/3rIfYjE.
 The project available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3IJrJ2d.
 The HFHR’s opinion of 24 September 2021 is available in Polish at: https://bit.ly/3vD2mv4.