Any person who, outside his or her country of origin, files a request for international protection in another State, or has expressed his or her will to do so. Asylum seekers remain such pending the decision by the designated authorities regarding the recognition of refugee status or other forms of protection.
Asylum shopping is the practice by asylum seekers of applying for asylum in several states or seeking to apply in a particular state after transiting other states.
The EU law, through the Dublin Regulation, in order to avoid this phenomenon, establishes that the asylum applications should be submitted and registered in the country of first arrival. Furthermore, the decision on the asylum request issued by the country of first arrival is valid for all EU Member State.
The foreigner who just arrived in Italy without identity documents and is willing to apply for international protection is assigned to the CARA system, where the identification procedures take place and the asylum application is submitted. Asylum seekers should be hosted in these facilities for a duration of maximum 35 days, while waiting for their asylum application to be processed.
The CARA system is characterised by huge facilities, high costs, low quality of the services provided, and isolation form residential areas.
In accordance with the legislative decree n. 142/2015, the CARA centres should have been converted into “governmental centres of first reception”, although replaced by governmental centres for asylum seekers at regional and interregional level, the so-called Hubs established under the Italian Roadmap.
The CAS system was originally intended as an extraordinary measure to be triggered in case of mass influx and/or when the reception demand is too high for the capacity of the ordinary reception centers due to the high number of arrivals. However, to date, these ‘temporary facilities’ have been commonly used as de facto first reception centres, failing their exceptional nature.
The CAS facilities are identified by the Prefectures, and may be activated with the agreement of cooperatives, NGOs and accommodation facilities through public procurement procedures, subject to the prior positive opinion of the local authority on whose territory the facility will be set up.
Third-country nationals may be detained at a temporary holding facility whether they do not have a valid permit of stay or received an administrative expulsion order.
These centers were originally called CPT (centres for temporary stay) in the Turco-Napolitano Law, then renamed CIE (centres for identification and expulsion) with the Bossi-Fini Law in 2002 and finally indicated with the acronym CPR (Return Detention Centres) in the Minniti-Orlando of 2017.
Originally, the maximum duration of the administrative detention was of 30 days (art 12, Law Turco-Napolitano); the Law Bossi-Fini established that, where the identification procedures are particularly difficult, the detention of migrants can be extended, through judicial order, for other 30 days; in 2013, this period was extended to 90 days. Recently, Art 2 of the Security Decree extended the maximum period of detention to 180 days.
In Italy, nowadays, 6 CPR are active: Roma, Bari, Brindisi, Torino, Potenza and Caltanissetta. By the end of 2019, also the CPR in Gradisca d’Isonzo, Modena, Macomer, Oppido Mamertina and Montichiari should be activated.
Coming into effect on January 1st 2014, the Dublin III Regulation establishes criteria to determine which Member State is responsible for deciding an application for asylum filed by a third-country citizen or a stateless person. The general underlying principle is that any asylum request must be examined by only one Member State. The responsibility to decide on a request falls primarily on the Member State where the applicant has first entered the European Union, with some exceptions.
The Dublin Unit operates in the Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration of the Ministry of Interior and in the context of the Central Direction of Civil Services for Immigration and Asylum.
The aim of the Unit is to determine which EU Member State is responsible for processing a specific asylum application submitted by third-country national or a stateless person in another EU Member State. At the same time, the Unit carries out all relative activities of support (presentation of parliamentary questions and legislative amendments, taking part to meetings also at EU level) as well as judicial activities.
The European Agenda on Migration of 2015 developed the so-called hotspot approach, which allowed the creation of a number of centres, located on EU external borders, were the registration, identification, fingerprinting and debriefing of asylum seekers take place. These operations should be carried out within 48 hours from the arrival of the asylum seeker (72 hours in exceptional circumstances). If the asylum seekers refuse to be identified, they are transferred in the CIE in order to be identified and returned to their country of origin.
Greece and Italy are the EU member states were the hotspot approach has been implemented during the last years. Six Italian harbours are involved: Pozzallo; Porto Empedocle; Trapani; Lampedusa; Augusta and Taranto.
Within the new Roadmap submitted by the Italian Ministry of Interiors, hubs are conceived as large, regional or interregional centres to be used in the early phases of reception for migrants who have expressed the will to request protection. These facilities will be created by converting former Accommodation Centres for Asylum Seekers (CARAs) and First Reception Centres (CDA). They will basically function as short-term facilities for registration, identification and formalizing of asylum requests, followed by transfer to second phase reception in facilities that are part of the SPRAR network. Since hubs provide unlimited accommodation time, they are at risk of presenting the same uncertainties as the current reception system.
Prior to the security decree, the Italian law provided for a residual form of international protection that could be granted for humanitarian reasons to those non-eligible for refugee status nor subsidiary protection. The residence permit for humanitarian reasons was issued by local authorities, the Questura, after consulting the Territorial Commission for the Recognition of International Protection on the existence of “serious grounds” of humanitarian nature, i.e. health reasons, age, famine, human-induced environmental threats or natural disasters, and political instability, episodes of violence or lack of family strings in the country of origin.
The humanitarian protection had a two-year duration, and it could be renewed as well as converted in a residence permit for work purposes. This is also valid for those applicants who were granted humanitarian protection before the Security Decree.
Indeed, the recent Security Decree, converted into Law 132/2018, removed this form of protection replacing it with the residence permit for “special protection”.
Remarkably, with the decision n. 4890/2019, the Supreme Court of Cassation established that, regarding the asylum application submitted before the 5th of October 2018, the Territorial Commission shall still evaluate whether the humanitarian protection may apply.
The third-country national who entered the territory avoiding the border checks, or who has not a valid permit of stay or whose permit of stay expired, is considered as ‘irregular migrant’.
Asylum seekers usually enter irregularly the territory of the country where they want to seek protection. However, once they submit their asylum application they cannot be as ‘irregular migrants’.
Originally meaning a space that is by definition safe and inviolable, the term currently designates a form of protection that an individual can request from a State while in its territory, when said individual is deprived of fundamental rights and democratic freedoms in his or her country of origin. Therefore, it generally concerns individuals who are forced to relocation. Right of asylum is recognized primarily by Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 1948, as well as by several documents of the European Union and by Article 10 of the Italian Constitution, yet it is not enforced by actual law.
Within the new European Agenda on Migration, migrants seeking protection on arrival in Italy, Greece and Hungary can be relocated across Europe. Basically a selection process available to people in clear need of international protection, belonging to nationalities whose recognition of international protection is equal to or greater than 75%, based on Eurostat data: at present Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis.
From hotspots, people who have been selected for relocation are first transferred to the designated hubs, where their profiles are matched for compatibility with the available places in Member States.
This residence permit is issued by the Ministry of Interior, under proposal of the responsible local authority (i.e. prefettura), when the foreigner has accomplished some acts of particular civil value. Beneficiaries of this kind of permit may have saved lives, impeded or lessened the effects of a public or private disaster, established public order, arrested or contributed to the arrest of someone. Furthermore, this permit can be released for scientific merits or for having contributed to the progress of humanity.
It expires in 2 years, it is renewable and could be converted into a stay permit for labour or study purposes.
Under certain circumstances, a stay permit for special cases may be issued. Namely, the holders of such permits may be: 1) victims of crimes related to violence or human exploitation, who cooperate with the justice and/or decided to take part in assistance and social integration projects; 2) victims of domestic abuse who reported their offenders; 3) victims of labour exploitation who reported their employers.
Prior to the security decree, all the special cases which make one individual eligible for the ‘residence permit for special cases’ were encompassed in the ‘humanitarian grounds’ of the humanitarian protection.
These stay permits expire in 6 months and are extendable for a total duration of maximum one year for judicial purposes; they can be converted into other kinds of stay permits.
The Protection System for Refugees and Unaccompanied Children Migrants (previously, SPRAR) consists of a network of local public bodies involved in reception projects financed by the Ministry for Interior through the National Fund for Asylum Policy and Services.
Only individuals satisfying specific criteria may have access to this system, and to the services it offers which mainly relate to assistance, social inclusion and integration. This restriction is the result of a recent reform, introduced by the Security Decree in 2018.
Specifically, these services are now limited to: 1) beneficiaries of international protection; 2) unaccompanied minor migrants, even when they did not submit an asylum application; 3) foreigners who obtained a residence permit for medical care; 4) beneficiaries of humanitarian protection, until the reception project they took part in has expired.
The Protection System for Asylum and Refuge Seekers, the so-called “second reception”, is established by the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration of the Ministry of Interior and operated by Anci (the National Association of Italian Municipalities).
Applicants who have filed a request for asylum and have no means of subsistence (determined by the welfare check annual amount) are brought into the system of secondary level reception centres. Besides food and shelter, centres must provide services such as linguistic and cultural mediation, Italian language courses, vocational training and guidance and legal assistance so as to facilitate integration. Accommodation is granted for six months, which can be extended for a further six months and is in any case guaranteed until the decision of the Territorial Commission or, in case of appeal, until the outcome of the suspension request and/or the definition of the first degree proceeding.
This stay permit is issued when the applicant, who adequately demonstrates the existence of serious and exceptional health conditions, could be exposed to an irreparable damage in case of return.
The stay permit for the purpose of medical treatment expires in one year, and is renewable. It does not allow to its beneficiaries to work nor to convert it into another kind of stay permit.
When the return of a foreigner to his/her country of origin is not safe due to environmental threats (‘verified situation of contingent and exceptional natural disaster’), a residence permit for natural disasters may be issued.
It expires in 6 months, is valid only in Italy and, although allowing foreigners to work during their stay, it cannot be converted into any other kind of residence permit.
This form of protection grants the right to obtain a residence permit to those who, although non-eligible for refugee status nor subsidiary protection, could be exposed to the risk of persecution or torture in case of return.
The stay permit for special protection has a one-year duration and cannot be converted in a stay permit for work purposes. The residence permit for special protection can be renewed, subject to the favourable opinion of the Territorial Commission, that previously verifies all the required preconditions are still met.
The stay permit for special protection should not be confused with the stay permit for special cases.
A form of protection that can be granted by the competent Territorial Commission to a person seeking asylum, when the applicant cannot prove that he or she is at risk of personal persecution, but would risk serious injury in the country of origin (death sentence, torture, serious and individual threat to life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of armed conflict), so that he or she cannot or does not want to benefit from the protection of said country. The residence permit under subsidiary protection is valid for 5 years, and it can be renewed if the reason for its issuing persist. The permit also grants access to education, employment and National Health Service.