In Slovenia, the procedure for international protection is initiated in two phases. First, the individual expresses the intention to apply for international protection. Third-country nationals can express their intention before any state or local authority, which has the duty to inform the Police. From the moment someone has expressed an intention to apply for international protection, they cannot be deported from the country. The Police conduct the “preliminary procedure” in which they establish the identity and travel route of the individual and complete the registration form. In line with the new amendments of the IPA they also establish ‘other circumstances’ that could affect the asylum procedure. The Police also have to inform the individual of the consequences of leaving the pre-reception area before lodging the application. In practice they give them a pamphlet with the information in their language. During the procedure, the police must provide an interpreter, although due to the lack of interpreters this often does not take place. The Police also obtain a short statement as regards to the reasons for applying for international protection. The individual is then transferred to the Asylum Home or its branch Logatec where they start the second phase of the procedure by lodging the application for international protection.
Prior to lodging the application, the personnel at the Asylum Home or its branch Logatec conduct a medical examination and the staff of the Migration directorate take the person’s photograph and fingerprints, which are run through the Eurodac database after the lodging of the asylum application. The IPA does not provide free legal representation for applicants in the first instance procedure. This was provided by the PIC – Legal Centre for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment and financed through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) to all asylum seekers until the end of April 2020. The AMIF project enabled PIC lawyers to represent all asylum seekers during the asylum procedure. Since then, PIC continues to provide free legal help and representation, but on a smaller scale. In 2022 PIC assisted more than 810 asylum seekers. PIC lawyers provide legal information about asylum, represent the asylum seekers during the application and throughout the first instance procedure. A legal guardian is appointed to unaccompanied minors before the procedure begins and represents them in relation to the asylum procedure, reception, health protection, education and protection of property rights and interests from the beginning of the application throughout the entire procedure.
Before lodging an application, asylum seekers are shown an information video on the asylum procedure in Slovenia. The video contains information on the structure of the procedure, the rights and the obligations of the asylum seekers, the Dublin procedure, the right to appeal and refugee counsellors. However, it does not contain information regarding the grounds on which international protection may be granted. It also does not provide information regarding the NGOs working in the field of asylum although this is required by the IPA. The version of the informational video for unaccompanied minors also contains information on legal guardians. The informational video is not adapted for unaccompanied minors as it is the same in all other aspects as the version intended for adults.
In the process of lodging the application, the individual is asked to state their personal information and describe the journey from their country of origin to their arrival in Slovenia. They also give a brief statement about their reasons for applying for international protection. The procedure is carried out in the presence of an interpreter who, at the end, orally translates the contents of the minutes for the applicant. If the individual has a legal representative or legal guardian, they are also present during the procedure. By signing the minutes, the applicant officially obtains the status of an applicant for international protection in the Republic of Slovenia.
First instance procedure: At first instance level the international protection procedure is carried out by the Ministry of the Interior, specifically the International Protection Procedures division of the Migration directorate.
Following the lodging of the application, a personal interview is conducted, normally within a time period of one month, during which the applicant is expected to provide detailed grounds for asylum (“first interview on the merits”). Alternatively, if a link with another Member State pursuant to the Dublin Regulation is detected, instead of an interview for examination of any grounds for asylum, the applicant is invited to an interview for determination of the responsible country (“Dublin interview”). If it is determined in the Dublin procedure that Slovenia is responsible, the first interview on the merits is carried out.
Following the first interview on the merits, the case is referred to a “decision-maker”, who organises another interview on the merits if needed, before they take an in-merit asylum decision on the case. In case the applicant lodged the application after September 2021 when the amendments of the IPA came to force the negative decision also contains a return decision. Applicants are given 10 days for voluntary return by law counting from the moment the decision becomes enforceable and a one-year entry ban that comes to force only if the person does not leave Slovenia in the time frame for voluntary return. The decision also contains the information that in case the person will not leave Slovenia voluntarily they will be removed from the territory.
An accelerated procedure is also possible pursuant to the IPA. There are only a few minor differences compared to the regular procedure, such as the deadline for judicial review. In addition, in the accelerated procedure the application can only be rejected as manifestly unfounded. The first instance decision in the accelerated procedure should be issued within two months of the lodging of the application however this is often not respected in practice.
Pursuant to the law, an application can also be dismissed on grounds of the “safe third country” or “European safe third country” concept. However currently Slovenia does not implement this mechanism, and no country is designated as a safe third country.
An application lodged by an unaccompanied minor can only be processed in the accelerated procedure if it is rejected as manifestly unfounded on grounds of “safe country of origin” or “if there are good reasons to believe that the applicant poses a threat to public order, public safety or national security of the Republic of Slovenia or has been removed from the country due to good reasons of endangering public order, public safety or national security.
According to the law, asylum procedures normally need to be concluded within six months, however this is often not respected, leading to excessively long procedures – one of the most significant shortcomings of the Slovenian asylum system.
Prioritised examination of claims is possible pursuant to the IPA if the applicant is a vulnerable person with special needs and/or if the applicant is detained in the Asylum Home or the Foreigners Centre. However, in line with the amendments of the IPA, this will only take place if their application is substantiated. In practice prioritised examination is not often used and individuals normally have to wait for extended periods of time for a decision.
Appeal: One cannot appeal against the decisions and resolutions passed in the international protection procedure; rather, the applicant can opt for an administrative dispute. This is a judicial review of an administrative action, which is initiated by filing a lawsuit against the Ministry of Interior. In the court proceedings that follow, the applicant for international protection acts as the plaintiff and the Ministry of Interior as the defendant. The Administrative Court of the Republic of Slovenia, with headquarters in Ljubljana, decides on judicial review.
The amendments of the IPA shortened the timeframe in which an individual can apply for judicial review. The applicant still has 15 days to apply for judicial review of the decision if it was made in the regular procedure. However, the timeframe for applications processed in the accelerated procedure was shortened from eight calendar days to three calendar days. The timeframe for judicial review of all other decisions was also shortened from eight days to three. Judicial review has suspensive effect in the case of a rejected application, rejected request for extension of subsidiary protection, revocation of international protection status, cessation of the status based on withdrawal, safe third country decision, or dismissed subsequent application, while in all other cases the appeal does not have suspensive effect. In these cases, the applicant can prevent enforcement, especially of return or removal from Slovenia, by adding a request to this effect to their application for judicial review.
Due to the amendments of the IPA, decisions of the Administrative Court can be challenged by way of appeal to the Supreme Court. Individuals who lodged their application before the new amendments came to force cannot lodge an appeal against a refusal decision, and the decision of the Administrative Court is final. In these cases, a decision of the Administrative Court can only be challenged with extraordinary legal remedies. Individuals who lodged the application after the amendments came to force can appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision of the Administrative Court.
In both cases appeal to the Constitutional Court is also possible.
 Article 36(1) IPA.
 Articles 42(1)-(2) IPA.
 Article 42(2) IPA.
 Articles 42(4)-(5) IPA.
 The website of PIC can be accessed here: http://pic.si/.
 Articles 16(1) and (3) IPA.
 Article 5(1) IPA.
 Article 49(10) IPA.
 Article 49(11) IPA
 Article 49(13) IPA.
 Article 67(2) Foreigners Act.
 Article 49(1) IPA.
 Article 47(1) IPA.
 Articles 53-60 IPA.
 IPA 49(2).
 Article 48 IPA.
 Article 70(1) IPA.
 Article 70(2) IPA.
 Article 70(3) IPA.
 Article 70(4) IPA.
 The new amendments came to force on 09 November 2021.
 Article 72 IPA.