|Name in English||Number of staff||Ministry responsible||Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the determining authority?|
|Office of Asylum and Refuge||N/A||Ministry of Interior||Yes|
All applications for international protection are examined by the Office of Asylum and Refuge (OAR) falling under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for a broad range of tasks involving national security, such as the management of national security forces and bodies – including police guards and Guardia Civil, which are responsible of border control activities – the penitentiary system, foreigners and immigration-related issues.
The OAR centralises the processing of all asylum applications which are officially lodged in Spain, both inside the country and at its borders, as well as the processing and decision-making concerning the cases of stateless persons. This Office also participates in a unit operating under the General Commissariat of Aliens and Borders of the Police concerning documentation and within another unit operating under the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, with authority over matters concerning the reception of asylum seekers.
The OAR officers (“instructores”) in charge of assessing asylum applications are organised according to geographical criteria and each of them is in charge of a certain number of countries. Moreover, cases are also allocated depending on the applicable procedure (i.e. at the border or on the territory). According to the information provided by the OAR, there were 197 officers as of September 2019. In addition, the OAR published an extraordinary call for public employment in July 2019, whereby it announced the recruitment of approximately 70 additional staff. As of March 2020, there were 270 caseworkers taking decisions on applications for international protection at the OAR. Statistics on the full year 2021 were not available at the time of writing of this report.
The examination of an application by the OAR culminates in a draft decision which is submitted to the Inter-Ministerial Asylum and Refugee Commission (CIAR), which will decide to grant or to refuse international protection. The resolution passed within said Commission must be signed by the Minister of the Interior, although it is standard practice for it to be signed by the Under-Secretary of the Interior by delegation of signature authority. According to Article 23.2 of the Asylum Law, the CIAR is composed by a representation of each of the departments having competences on: home and foreign affairs; justice; immigration; reception of asylum seekers; and equality. UNHCR also participates but may only express its opinion on asylum cases without the right to vote.
The OAR also developed internal guidelines on the decision-making process to be followed by its officers, but these are not made public. Country of origin information (COI) as well as other relevant documentation published by certain organisations and institutions are also consulted during the decision-making process (e.g. UNHCR and EASO publications).
 Royal Decree 400/2012 of 17 February 2012 developing the basic organic structure of the Ministry of Interior.
 Article 23(2) Asylum Act.