Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure


Country Report: Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure Last updated: 25/03/21


In practice there are no specific nationalities considered to be well-founded or unfounded.

In 2018, the Audiencia Nacional provided additional guidance on the legal status of Venezuelans in Spain. According to the judgments, the socio-politic and economic crisis in Venezuela entitles Venezuelan asylum seekers to a residence permit in Spain under humanitarian reasons.[1]

On 5 March 2019, the CIAR announced a policy granting one-year renewable residence permits “on humanitarian grounds of international protection” to Venezuelan nationals whose asylum applications have been rejected between January 2014 and February 2019.[2] As a result, a total of 35,130 humanitarian status were granted within a single year to Venezuelans, thus exceeding by far the number of refugee status. Only 50 Venezuelans were granted a refugee status in Spain in 2019 according to Eurostat statistics.[3] Similarly in 2020, 40,396 Venezuelans obtained a residence permit on humanitarian grounds,[4] and only 5 Venezuelans were granted refugee status according to Eurostat statistics.[5]

Lawyers have expressed deep concerns regarding the individual assessment of asylum claims lodged by Venezuelans. It seems that some of them are being granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds although they are entitled to the refugee status (e.g. in the case of political opponents). In addition, it appears that some applications for international protection have been rejected because asylum seekers have a police record (not a criminal record).

Another non-official practice of differential treatment concerns applications presented by Syrian nationals, who are in their vast majority granted subsidiary protection, and no case by case assessment is realised on the requirement to receive international protection. According to Eurostat, 1,075 subsidiary protection status have been granted to Syrians in 2019, compared to 35 refugee status. Similarly in 2020, only 5 Syrians were granted refugee status, compared to 530 subsidiary protection status.[6] In one case concerning a Syrian family resettled from Lebanon in 2017, however, the Audiencia Nacional overturned the subsidiary protection status and granted refugee status on the basis that the father was at risk of persecution in Syria and that the family had been recognised as refugees by UNHCR.[7]

Another criterion concerns persons who were fleeing from gangs (maras) in Central American countries, who were not granted international protection in previous years. In 2017 the Audiencia Nacional recognised subsidiary protection in different cases regarding asylum applicants from Honduras and El Salvador.[8] At the beginning of 2018, the Audiencia Nacional issued another important decision on the matter and revised its jurisprudence in relation to asylum applicants from Honduras.[9] In light of the 2016 UNHCR Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Asylum-Seekers from Honduras, the Court concluded that the situation in Honduras can be considered as an internal conflict and that the Honduran State is not able to protect the population from violence, extortion and threats carried out by the Mara Salvatrucha gang.

The NGO CEAR has launched a campaign in February 2019 named “Maras. Ver, oír y callar” to raise awareness on the issues faced by asylum seekers originating from Honduras and El Salvador; and in particular on the fact that asylum claims based on the fear of persecution from gangs are systematically denied in Spain. This has included the promotion of a new TV series addressing the issue on social media, through a dedicated webpage as well as through posters.[10]

[1] Audiencia Nacional, Decisions SAN 2522/2018, 26 June 2018; SAN 4063/2018, 8 October 2018; SAN 4060/2018, 18 October 2018.

[2] OAR, Nota sobre la propuesta de concesión de una autorización temporal de residencia por … de una autorización de residencia temporal por razones humanitarias, 5 March 2019, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/2UCYGV0.

[3]  Eurostat, First instance decisions on applications by citizenship, age and sex Annual aggregated data (rounded)[migr_asydcfsta], available at: https://bit.ly/38yLNl9.

[4] Ministerio del Interior, ‘Avance de solicitudes y propuestas de resolución de protección internacional. Datos provisionales acumulados entre el 1 de enero y el 31 de diciembre de 2020’, available in Spanish at: https://bit.ly/37qJRNx.

[5] Eurostat, First instance decisions on applications by citizenship, age and sex Annual aggregated data (rounded)[migr_asydcfsta], available at: https://bit.ly/38yLNl9.

[6] Ibid.

[7]  Audiencia Nacional, Decision SAN 5336/2017, 11 December 2017.

[8] Audiencia Nacional, Decision SAN 5110/2017, 22 November 2017; SAN 5189/2017, 22 November 2017; SAN 3930/2017, 14 September 2017.

[9] Audiencia Nacional, Decision SAN 508/2018, 9 February 2018.

[10]  CEAR, Maras. Ver, oír y callar, available in Spanish at: https://cutt.ly/drqk1u0.

Table of contents

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