Registration of the asylum application

Romania

Country Report: Registration of the asylum application Last updated: 31/05/22

Author

Felicia Nica with support from JRS Romania Visit Website

Asylum applications are registered by the General Inspectorate for Immigration – Asylum and Integration Directorate (IGI-DAI) within a maximum of 3 working days if the application is made at the IGI[1] and within a maximum of 6 days if the application is submitted to another competent authority such as the Border Police operating offices, the police units in which pre-trial detention and detention centres are established and functioning, or the structures of the National Administration of Penitentiaries within the Ministry of Justice.[2]

In case of a mass influx of applications for international protection filed with any of the latter competent authorities, the registration of applications can be made within 10 working days from the date when the application was filed.[3]

Asylum applications are recorded in special registers if they are submitted at a border-crossing point, at the units subordinated to the National Administration of Penitentiaries within the Ministry of Justice, and at the pre-trial detention and detention centres within the police units.[4]

When a person expresses the intention to seek asylum at one of the structures of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Romania, the asylum application is sent to the Regional Centres for Asylum Seekers, together with an outline of the asylum seeker’s situation. In addition, authorities may also attach documents drawn up after the apprehension or the first submission to the competent authorities.[5]

According to the Border Police, a person who expresses the intention to seek asylum at the Romanian border is given a form, which he or she fills in, in the language he or she knows. The form is registered in a special register of the Border Police structure. After registering the form, the person is informed, through an interpreter, about his or her rights and obligations. Subsequently, the form is submitted by fax to the territorially competent section of IGI-DAI.[6]

Asylum applications made at border-crossing points or airports are transmitted to IGI-DAI together with an information note on the asylum seeker, which includes the hour of arrival, documents in his or her possession, persons accompanying him or her and other elements which may contribute to resolve the case in due time.[7]

In 2018, there were 2 cases of Pakistani nationals, who wanted to make an asylum claim respectively in Otopeni Airport and Cluj Airport, but the Border Police never registered their claim. JRS had no access to them, even though the foreigners had contacted them. In 2020, JRS documented at least 3 similar cases, 2 in Otopeni and 1 in Cluj-Napoca. No cases were reported by JRS in 2021.

According to JRS, in most of the cases asylum seekers are transported by the Border Police to IGI-DAI. Nonetheless, there are also cases when asylum seekers travel by train from the border to IGI-DAI. This occurred to asylum seekers apprehended at the border with Hungary, in Oradea County, which is further from Regional Centre Timișoara. However, if groups of asylum seekers are apprehended, they are transported to IGI-DAI by the Border Police. According to the Director of Regional Centre Timișoara, asylum seekers apprehended at border are transported by the Border Police to IGI-DAI.

There are no time limits set in law for making an application. According to Article 36(3) of the Asylum Act, competent authorities cannot refuse to register the asylum application on the grounds that it was filed at a later stage.[8] In addition, when assessing an asylum claim, IGI-DAI cannot reject it solely on the ground that it was filed late.[9]

According to IGI-DAI, asylum applications are registered in IGI-DAI database on the same day they are received, a registration number is automatically assigned. Simultaneously with the registration of the asylum application, the person is fingerprinted, photographed and issued a temporary identity document, which is extended periodically.[10] This practice is corroborated by the information provided by JRS representatives in the Regional Centres. As a consequence, there have been no delays in registering an asylum application in any of the Regional Centres.

If an unaccompanied minor expressed his or her intention to apply for asylum, in writing or orally, before the competent authorities, he or she will be registered as an asylum seeker in a special register, and the asylum application will be filed after a legal representative is appointed.[11] The identification data stated by unaccompanied minor are recorded in the special register.[12]

If an unaccompanied child has expressed his or her intention to seek asylum, in writing or orally, before the competent authorities other than IGI-DAI, the respective authority will immediately inform IGI-DAI, which ensures the applicant’s transport to the competent Regional Centre to assess the asylum application.[13]

According to UNHCR Romania, in 2021, 67% of all new asylum applications were submitted with the Border Police and only 33% with IGI-DAI.  And 89% of all new asylum requests were submitted by people who entered the country irregularly.[14]

According to the JRS representatives working in the Regional Centres, there were no obstacles to the registration of applications in 2021. The Romanian National Council for Refugees (CNRR) stated that they are not aware of problems with regard to the registration of asylum applications.[15]

However, according to the JRS representative in Timișoara, asylum seekers complained about the lack of interpreters at the stage of registration and lodging of the asylum application. The Director of the Regional Centre Timișoara said that 90% of asylum applications were made with the Border Police and in the rest of the cases there were no interpreters present. At the time of their arrival in the centre there is no interpreter because the Border Police usually bring in the afternoon or evening. The other 10% of asylum seekers who made an asylum request directly at the centre knew Romanian or English or they were accompanied by friends who knew Romanian. It was also emphasised that the documents that they have to sign are in their language. According to the JRS representative there is no interpreter available when asylum seekers are filling in the various documents they need to sign when they are accommodated in the centre.

In Bucharest, according to the JRS representative, asylum seekers did not report problems at this stage, even though there are no interpreters when the asylum application is registered. Inaccuracies with regards to asylum seekers’ names and age and unaccompanied minors registered as adults were reported, however. On the other hand, the director of Vasile Stolnicu centre said that in general there is an interpreter, who is either a person accommodated in the centre or an interpreter hired by IGI, in case there is no one in the centre.

In Rădăuţi, asylum seekers still complain about the fact that the Border Police does not use interpreters who speak their native language. As a consequence, information such as the name, the date of birth and the grounds of the asylum application, are not correctly recorded. The names of the asylum seekers transferred from Timisoara were wrongly registered, even though they presented copies of their passports. Therefore, potential errors in the recording of personal information may arise during the assessment of their asylum application by IGI-DAI and contradictions may appear between the statements made at the border and those made during the personal interview. According to the legal counsellor of Rădăuţi, asylum seekers who make an asylum application directly at the centre have no interpreter at this stage. The JRS representative in Rădăuţi stated that while an interpreter was not always provided when an asylum application was made, there were cases where the interpreter signed the information note on the rights and obligations, that the asylum seekers receive upon arrival in the reception centre, when the asylum application is registered. She also mentioned that when transfers arrive from Timisoara, there was no interpreter present, except once.

On the other hand, in Șomcuta Mare, there is the cultural facilitator of AIDRom, an Arabic speaker, present when the asylum seekers are transferred from Timișoara.

In addition to this, the Romanian Ombudsman noticed during a visit made in 2019 to the Regional Centre Şomcuta Mare that several documents signed by the asylum seekers were drafted only in Romanian, such as: the request for accommodation, the statement regarding the money that he or she has on her when accommodated in the centre, the obligation to respect ROI, information regarding prohibitions and sanctions, etc.[16] which, in general, are all signed when the asylum application is registered.

In Galaţi, it was reported that a few asylum applications were made directly at the centre in 2021, and the applicants were all knowledgeable in English language. The majority of asylum seekers were transferred from Timisoara.

In Giurgiu in general there is an interpreter at the registration of the asylum application. However, the number of asylum applications made directly in the centre was low in 2021, only 62, according to the director of the centre. The majority of these applications (44) were made by Syrian students from Craiova. Some of them call before they arrive in the centre and they speak Romanian. The majority of asylum seekers were transferred from Timisoara and at the transfer there is an interpreter.

There were no cases where IGI-DAI refused to have the asylum application lodged.

After the asylum application is lodged, the applicant receives a “temporary asylum seeker identity document” (Document temporar de identitate solicitant de azil). This is a card containing a photograph, personal details and a registration number.[17] The format of the temporary identity document was changed in 2021, and now it is a plastic card, similar to the residence permit.

Although the director of Timisoara centre reported that temporary identity documents were issued for all transferred asylum seekers in 2021, stakeholders from the other centres stated the contrary. In Bucharest the majority of asylum seekers arrived from Timisoara with certificates. In Galati not all transferred asylum seekers had temporary identity documents at arrival. The same was reported also in Somcuta Mare. In Giurgiu, the JRS representative said that asylum seekers transferred from Timisoara scarcely ever had identity documents. Conversely, the director of Giurgiu centre stated the opposite. The JRS representative from Giurgiu further mentioned that asylum seekers are not allowed to leave the centre until they are issued an identity document, after the preliminary interview, that takes place within 2-3 days of their arrival. In Radauti the majority of those transferred from Timisoara had temporary identity documents.

Special measures imposed during the pandemic

IGI-DAI took immediate action to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible, among asylum seekers, beneficiaries of international protection and its staff. An action plan was designed and implemented, in accordance with the provisions issued at national level. The right to make an asylum application was not restricted in any way during the state of emergency or state of alert. The assessment of asylum applications in the administrative phase was not interrupted either. Additional protection measures were taken including primary and emergency medical care, medical assistance and free treatment in cases of acute or chronic disease, counseling and psychological assistance.

Some of the measures implemented be IGI-DAI included: distribution of protective items (masks, gloves) and disinfectants; installation of protection panels in the recording, fingerprinting and interviewing spaces; organizing training sessions with both accommodated persons and the staff of the centers on enhanced personal hygiene measures and limiting interaction with others; distribution and display of information materials translated into the main languages ​​spoken by the accommodated persons, broadcasting videos; medical check-up several times a day; purchase of devices for the daily the disinfection activity, in the rooms, the common spaces, and in the administrative spaces; installation of disinfectant dispensers and contracting of additional specialized services for disinfection. At the same time, disinfection operations and cleaning sessions were carried out, by the staff jointly with the asylum seekers. Visitor access was limited.

For the activities related to the registration of asylum applications and epidemiological control, designated spaces were allocated for this, and are still used, in the courtyard of the centres (except Vasile Stolnicu Bucharest) respecting social distance, and ensuring there is only the applicant present, unless the presence of other persons is required (lawyer, parent, legal representative, etc.).

As of April 2021, IGI developed and implemented an action plan aimed at vaccinating asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection against COVID-19.  At present, more than 400 asylum seekers and around 170 beneficiaries have been vaccinated.[18]

 

 

 

[1] Article 36^1(1) Asylum Act.

[2] Article 36^1(2) Asylum Act, citing Article 35 Asylum Act.

[3] Article 36^1(3) Asylum Act, citing Article 35 Asylum Act.

[4] Article 38(5) Asylum Act.

[5] Information provided by IGI-DAI, 21 August 2018.

[6] Information provided by Border Police, 27 August 2018.

[7] Information provided by IGI-DAI, 21 August 2018.

[8] Article 36(3) Asylum Act.

[9] Article 13(3) Asylum Act.

[10] Information provided by IGI-DAI, 21 August 2018.

[11] Article 39(3) Asylum Act.

[12] Information provided by IGI-DAI, 21 August 2018.

[13] Article 39(4) Asylum Act.

[14] UNHCR Romania, Analysis of asylum trends November 2021.

[15]  Information provided by CNRR, 15 February 2022.

[16] Ombudsman, Report 44, 24 September 2019, available in Romanian at: https://bit.ly/2Txk0gT.

[17] A template can be found at: https://bit.ly/2Q77KQ6.

[18] Information provided by IGI-DAI, 11 March 2022.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the first report
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation