How does the right to asylum work in Spain?

The overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in which asylum seekers wait at the Barajas airport due to the exponential increase in requests registered in recent months show the difficulties in accessing the Spanish asylum system.

These are some of the questions that arise regarding the right to asylum and subsidiary protection in Spain.

Who does Spain grant international protection to?

Refugees, that is, foreigners of non-EU nationality or stateless people who flee their countries of origin because they are persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinions, membership in a certain social group, gender or sexual orientation. Spain recognizes the right of asylum to refugees.

Those who do not meet the requirements to be considered refugees but who cannot return to their country because they risk being sentenced to the death penalty or suffering torture and serious threats to their lives. They are granted subsidiary protection.

Which nationalities request the most asylum in Spain?

Venezuelans (60,534), Colombians (53,564) and Peruvians (14,308) account for almost 80% of the 163,220 applications for international protection presented in 2023.

What rights does the asylum seeker have?

Firstly, to be documented as an applicant for international protection and, therefore, to remain in Spain, unless you are claimed by another country until your application is resolved, which must be communicated to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (UNHCR) in Spain.

You have the right to be assisted by a lawyer free of charge if you cannot afford one and by an interpreter, as well as to know the contents of the file at any time.

What are your obligations?

Collaborate with the Spanish authorities by telling the truth and detailing the reasons why you are requesting asylum, present the documentation supporting your application as soon as possible, appear when required, report any change of address and facilitate the collection of your fingerprints. .

How and where is it requested?

If you arrive in Spain and cannot enter Spanish territory, at the border post, while if you are already on Spanish soil, you must apply at the authorized Police stations and at the Foreigner Internment Centers (CIE).

The application is submitted in person and consists of an interview, which must always be carried out individually with an authorized official and in which an interpreter and lawyer may be present.

In 2023, 158,170 applications were submitted within Spain, 3,386 at border posts and 877 at CIE.

Who decides on applications?

All applications are assessed by the Office of Asylum and Refuge (OAR) and decisions are made by the Minister of the Interior at the proposal of the Interministerial Commission for Asylum and Refuge (CIAR).

What is the international protection procedure like?

In the admission phase, applications whose study does not correspond to Spain or that do not meet the requirements established by law are discarded (the person is recognized as a refugee in a third country, comes from a safe country, has reiterated an application already denied in Spain without new circumstances (i.e. European).

If the application has been submitted at a border post or at a CIE, the petitioner must remain at the authorized center until it is decided whether it is admitted for processing or rejected. The authorities have 96 hours to notify the decision. This is what is happening at the Barajas airport, although the established deadlines are not being met.

If it is admitted, you will be able to enter Spain or leave the CIE, while if it is denied, you can request that it be reviewed within 48 hours of notification. The administration has another two days to notify its resolution; If it is negative, the applicant must leave Spain, although they may first file an appeal.

If the application has been submitted in Spanish territory, it will be assessed within a month whether the urgent procedure is accepted and continues. After that time, if you do not receive a resolution of inadmissibility, it is considered admitted due to administrative silence and the applicant remains in a situation of provisional permanence in Spain.

On the other hand, if it is not admitted, return, deportation, expulsion, mandatory departure from Spain or transfer to the country responsible for examining the petitioner’s asylum application will be ordered.

What are the effects of granting asylum?

The beneficiaries will not be returned to the country of origin, they will obtain a permanent residence and work permit, an identity document, they will have the right to the reunification of immediate family members and access to public employment, education, health, housing or social services. In addition, the deadlines for access to Spanish nationality will be reduced.

To which nationalities does Spain mostly grant and reject international protection?

Last year, 7,330 people achieved refugee status and 3,833 received subsidiary protection. Malians (2,362), Afghans (1,120), Syrians (1,153), Nicaraguans (837) and Hondurans (736) were the main nationalities granted asylum.

On the contrary, 35,392 applications were unfavorable with Colombians in the lead (15,089), followed by Moroccans (3,787), Peruvians (3,197), Hondurans (2,578) and Senegalese (1,067).

In addition, 41,487 people received protection for humanitarian reasons, the majority of Venezuelan nationality (40,674) after the Government began to grant this type of protection in 2019 as a result of the political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, which implies recognizing a residence permit. or temporary humanitarian stay so that they are not in legal limbo.

Another figure is the temporary protection that Spain has granted to almost 195,000 displaced citizens since the war broke out in Ukraine.

BY: Mian Saeed Ahmed Khan