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, due to pandemic COVID-19, the Office for Foreigners encouraged asylum seekers to live outside the reception centres.
All of the abovementioned reception conditions are applied in practice. As of 31 December 2020, 819 (compared to 1,295 in 2019) asylum seekers benefited from material reception conditions in the centres and 2,225 (compared to 1,640 in 2019) asylum seekers were granted assistance outside the centres. In 2020, on average 1,085 (down from 1,276 in 2019) asylum seekers benefited from material reception conditions in the centres and 1,883 (up from 1,595 in 2019) asylum seekers were granted assistance outside the centres.
All asylum seekers 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.
For asylum seekers accommodated in reception centres, other material conditions cover:
- 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 basis 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 2020 this raise was applied 499 times.
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 163-169 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 327 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.
Any interventions concerning the needed increase of the financial allowance hitherto were unsuccessful. 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. Meanwhile, in the proposal of the ‘Migration policy’ published by the authorities in January 2021, it its stated that “possible reduction of material reception conditions may result in negative reactions of asylum seekers and be instrumentally used in campaigns against Polish migration policy”, which suggests that the reduction rather than the increase in this regard is considered by Polish authorities.
 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%). Information from the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2021.
 Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2021.
 Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 22 January 2020 and 26 January 2021.
 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 2021.
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.
 Information confirmed by SIP, 8 January 2020. See also N. Klorek, ‘Ochrona zdrowia nieudokumentowanych migrantów i osób ubiegających się o ochronę międzynarodową w opinicudzoziemców’ in A. Chrzanowska, W. Klaus, ed., Poza systemem. Dostęp do ochrony zdrowia nieudokumentowanych migrantów i cudzoziemców ubiegających się o ochronę międzynarodową w Polsce, SIP, 2011, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2GSP970, 56.
 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; Lukasiewicz, K., ‘Exile to Poverty: Policies and Poverty Among Refugees in Poland’, International Migration Vol. 55 (6) 2017, 63-64.
 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, 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, ‘Poprosiła o postojowe, zerwano umowę. Uchodźcy dziś nie mają na chleb, jutro stracą mieszkanie’, 30 May 2020, available in Polish at: http://bit.ly/3b1D79R.
 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; J. Białas, ‘Niezgodność zasad pomocy socjalnej zapewnianej osobom ubiegającym się o nadanie statusu uchodźcy z wyrokiem Trybunału Sprawiedliwości UE’, in HFHR, W poszukiwaniu ochrony. Wybrane problemy dotyczące realizacji praw cudzoziemców ubiegających się o nadanie statusu uchodźcy i objętych ochroną międzynarodową w latach 2012-2014. Obserwacje Programu Pomocy Prawnej dla Uchodźców i Migrantów Helsińskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, 2014, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/1eiVxDF, 52.
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.
 Ministry of Interior and Administration, Polityka migracyjna Polski – diagnoza stanu wyjsciowego, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/377T5Ov, 37.