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Practical instructions – The procedure for the recognition of international protection

Updated to January 2016

4 November 2008

Who can apply for the recognition of international protection
A foreigner can ask Italian State protection if he/she is escaping from persecution, torture or from war, even if he/she has entered irregularly Italy and is devoid of documents.
In the request the applicant must justify the circumstances of persecution or serious damage which caused his/her escape.
The agents of this persecution or serious damage may be the State, political parties or organizations which control the State or a part of its territory, or non-State subjects if the State, or who controls it, doesn’t want to provide protection to the victim of persecution or serious damage.

Terms for applying
There are no time limits for the presentation of the request. The request may be submitted even after the 8 day-period to which the procedure is referring.

Where to submit the request for international protection
The request must be submitted to the frontier Police or at the Questura (police headquarters), that may not be the frontier Questura, but the one near which the applicant intends to reside.
The Questura will give out a document that certifies the request and the verbalizing appointment date.

The request will be verbalized from Police officers using a form, called C3, that contains personal information and a few questions about the causes that motivated the applicant to go away from his/her Country and ask protection.
It is advisable then, at the moment of the asylum request, to bring a written memorial, in his/her native language and/or with a translation. For the editing of this memorial the applicant may ask help at the Municipality or some association that looks after the asylum right protection.
The applicant has to show documentation that attests what he/she is declaring, if available (news items, photos, official documents like police reportings or medical reports,…)
The lack of proof can not be a reason for the exclusion from the procedure.
The request cannot be rejected by Questura.

If the foreigner has a passport, he/she will have to give it to the Police, together with 4 photos, the chosen domicile (and the hospitality declaration and related documents, lease or deed contract and the host’s ID) that will all be subject to verification.
If the applicant doesn’t have a passport (because it was dangerous to turn to his/her own government - a situation not unusual among asylum seekers) it may be useful at the moment of the request to present a vital statistics certificate, an ID from his/her own Country, which, if by law cannot replace the passport, can be useful to ascertain his/her identity.
At the moment of the request it’s advisable to ask to be heard personally by the competent territorial Commission for the recognition of international protection.
At the moment of the request the applicant will choose a domicile where all communications or appointments will be sent, therefore it has to be updated or whoever lives there should transmit promptly a communication.
In the following few days Questura might give out a nominal certificate, in anticipation of the permit of stay for asylum seekers, that should be given out in 30-days time.
The issuing of the permit of stay for asylum seekers is carried out only after the Questura has verified that Italy is the Country that can examine the international protection request and that there are no reasons for custody at a CIE (Identification and Espulsion Centre) or for reception at a CARA (= Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers). The Prefect establishes a place of residence or a geographical area where the applicants can stay.

Additional documentation
During every phase preceeding the hearing (and in theory even after it),it is possible to present additional memorials, or proof of what is declared, of which one may come into possession after the first verbalization.

In the case of torture victims, it’s important to posses medical documentation, that gives a verification of the violence suffered,preferably written by a specialized medical staff, according to Istanbul protocol model, finally translated in Italian as well.

An important advice: always keep a copy of all documents deposited at the Questura, Prefettura and Commissione, and the records given by these authorities.

People not eligible for international protection
Can not apply for a refugee permit of stay those who:

- have committed a crime against peace and/or humanity or a war crime

- have committed a serious crime against civil law outside the reception Country before being admitted as a refugee

- are guilty of actions againts the aims and principles of the United Nations

The previous law prevented access to a refugee procedure to people sentenced for crimes provided for by Item 380, paragraph 1 and 2 of the Penal Procedure Code. This objection case is no more effective.
The evaluation of non-qualification to procedure regarding serious crimes cannot be made by the Questura that received the request, but by the competent Territorial Commission.

If the foreigner is considered dangerous to the State’s security and order, his/her own request will not be recognized, but has to be examined anyways.

If the foreigner is already a refugee in another Country signatory of the Ginevra Convention or has iterated the same request after a denial, the request will be declared inadmissible from the competent Territorial Commission but it has however to be received by Questura.

The discretion previously in chief at the Questura on the acceptability of the request is no longer effective.

Who evaluates the request?
The Territorial Commission for the international protection recognition is the competent authority in processing international protection claims. With the 22 August 2014 legislative decree, twenty Territorial Commissions were introduced, instead of the previous ten.
With the 10 November 2014 Ministry decree, special Territorial Commission Sections were introduced with a mandate lasting until 31 December 2014. Territorial Commissions members are part of the new sections, exceptionally introduced to face the increase of asylum claims.

- Have a look at the Territorial Commissions all over Italy

The commission where the international protection claim has been made is the designated authority in processing the claim unless custody or reception at the CARA (Centre of Asylum Seekers Reception) is arranged. In this case, the Centre Commission is the competent one.

Have a look at the Territorial Commission Introduction provided by the Interior Ministry and updated in May 2015.

Which are the possible outcomes of the hearing by the Territorial Commission?
The Territorial Commission can recognize a type of international protection, political asylum or subsidiary protection,declare the application unacceptable (if it has been presented to another state as well), not recognize any type of protection or, for reasons not referring to one’s security but for serious humanitarian reasons may ask the Questura to issue a permission for humanitarian protection (these are different from permits of stay for humanitarian reasons issued till january 2008, equal to subsidiary protection).

The law is very precise about the definition of:

- persecution acts and persecution reasons which, if recognized, will allow applicant to obtain the refugee status, or

- serious damage which, if recognized, allows the applicant to obtain the subsidiary protection.
Both types of protection, unlike previous dispositions, are status, and the repeal of a status can be disposed only after a check of individual situation and with a specific procedure.

The refugee status
The refugee status is recognized in presence of persecution acts for specific reasons:

A. Persecution acts
For the purpose of evaluation of the recognition of a refugee status, persecution acts as established by the Ginevra Convention, must either:

a) be sufficiently serious, for nature or frequence, to represent a serious violation of fundamental human rights, in particular of rights of which any dispensation is excluded;

b) establish the sum of different measures, among which human rights violations, whose impact is sufficiently serious to exercise on the person a serious violation of fundamental human rights;

Persecution acts can also assume the form of:
a) physical or psychological acts of violence, including sexual violence;

b) legislative, administrative, police or legal measures discriminatory for their own nature or executed in a discriminatory manner;

c) disproportionate or discriminatory legal actions or legal sanctions;

d) a denied access to legal guardianship tools and consequent disproportionate or discriminatory sanction;

e) legal actions or legal sanctions as a consequence of the refusal of doing military service in a conflict, when it may involve crimes, offence or acts considered war crimes or crimes against humanity;

f) acts specifically directed against a sexual gender or against children.

B. Reasons of persecution
In order to be recognized the status of refugee, persecution acts must be linked to factors such as:

a) “race”

b) “religion”

c) “nationality”

d) “particular social group”

e) “political opinion”

When examining if an applicant has a well-founded fear of being persecuted, it is irrelevant if the applicant owns effectively racial, religious, national, social or political features that provoke persecution acts, as long as this feature has been attributed by the author of persecutions.

The recognition of refugee status allows:

- the issuing of a permit of stay for political asylum for 5 years;

- the issuing of a refugee travel document for going abroad;

- the issuing of a refugee card which permits further renewals and files;

- to ask for citizenship for naturalization after just 5 years;

- to reunite the family, or to do a cohesion on the basis of requirements previewed by the law, but without proving accomodation and income, and with facilities with regard to documents that certify the family relationship;

- access to occupation

- access to education

- health and social care (civil disability, accompaniment benefit, maternity benefit) equal to Italian citizens.

The subsidiary protection
The subsidiary protection is recognized in the presence of personal serious damage.

In order to recognize subsidiary protection,serious damage is considered as:
a) death sentence or execution of death sentence;

b) torture or other types of punishment, inhuman or demeaning behaviour to the detritment of the applicant in his/her Country of origin;

c) serious individual threats to the life of a civilian resulting from indiscriminating violence in situations of inland or international armed conflict.

The recognition of subsidiary protection allows:

- the issuing of a permit of stay for subsidiary protection for 3 years;

- the issuing of a travel document for those who cannot apply for it to their own Embassy for travelling abroad;

- to reunite the family, or do a cohesion, on the basis of requirements previewed by the law, but with facilities with regard to the documents certifying family relationship;

- access to occupation;

- access to education;

- health and social care (civil disability, accompaniment benefit, maternity benefit) equal to Italian citizens.

What happens after the submission of the application?

1.Accomodation at a CARA
As a consequence of the submission of an asylum request, Questura has the power to arrange the acceptance in an institution or the custody of the applicant.
The custody in Identification Centres and the simplified procedure are no more existent, whereas now the procedure includes the acceptance in a CARA, is needed:

- to verify or determine the nationality or identity if the person lacks any travel or identification documents, or has – at the arrival in the State – showed fake documents. The stay is limited to the necessary time for the completion of the checks and in any case can not exceed 20 days.

- when the person has submitted the request after being stopped for having eluded or tried to elude the border control or soon after. The stay is limited to the time necessary for the examination of the application form and can not exceed 35 days.

- when the person has submitted the request after being stopped in irregular stay conditions.
The stay is limited to the time necessary for the request examination and can not exceed 35 days.
If the applicant is in a CARA he/she will not be issued a permit of stay but a nominative certificate.

At the end of the accomodation period a permit for asylum request is issued to the applicant, valid for 3 months.

2. Detention in a CIE
The applicant will be held at a CIE if:

- he/she is the recipient of an expulsion or rejecting measure;

- he/she has committed a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity;

- he/she has committed a serious crime against common law outside the host country before being admitted as a refugee;

- he/she is guilty of acts opposed to aims and principles of the United Nations;

- he/she has been condemned in Italy for one of the crimes indicated in law 380, paragraph 1 and 2 of the Penal Procedure Code, or crimes inherent in drugs, sexual freedom, abetment of clandestine immigration toward Italy and clandestine emigration from Italy to other countries, or for crimes headed for recruitment of people for prostitution or exploitation in prostitution or underage employment in illicit activities.
If the applicant has been transferred to a CIE, he/she will not be issued a permit of stay, but a nominative certificate. The law does not mention any limits for the detention.

If the detention is not arranged for the applicant, after the checks by the competent state regarding the examination of the request pursuant to the Council Rule 343/2003 made with the comparison of fingerprints through the EURODAC system, he/she will receive an identity certificate and then a permit of stay for asylum request that lasts 3 months and is renewable until the end of the procedure. With this permit one can ask a tax code (codice fiscale) and must register at the National Health Service.
The applicant has the right to healthcare exempt from expense share.
The applicant cannot work.
After 6 months from the issuing of the first permit, if the procedure has not yet concluded, he/she must be issued a 6-months long permission that allows one to work. The applicant can move inside the zone established by the Prefect.

3. Protection services for asylum seekers and refugees
Those who do not represent cases of reception at a CARA or any other type of holding should be guaranteed the inclusion into the Protection System. In fact, the Decree n. 140 of 30 May 2005 obliges the Countries to receive the applicants that go to Questura for submitting the request within 8 days from entrance. The asylum seeker must ask for reception at the moment of rapplying, declaring to not have his/her own sustenance.
Those who have right to reception on SPRAR (=Central Service of Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees) but are not included into the Protection System can ask an economic benefit from the State by submitting a written request to the Foreigner Office at Questura, that will forward it to the competent territorial Prefettura.

“Dublin cases”
If the applicant falls within the cases previewed by rule 343/2003, he/she will be issued a 1-month “Dublin Convention” permission, renewable until the completion of the verification procedure and eventual relocation.

Applicant audition
The audition is not mandatory, but the applicant must present him/herself if summoned. The Territorial Commission may decide even without the interview, if there are enough elements to concede the International Protection. The commission informs Questura about the audition date; the latter will inform the applicant at the domicile declared on the permit of stay or at the centre where he/she is received. It’s important and mandatory to update the domicile when renewing the permit of stay.

If the applicant does not present himself at the audition without having asked a delay, the request will be examined on the basis of the dispatched documentation.

Periods and proceedings of the application examination
The examination of the request through summoning of the applicant should happen within 30 days from the request and the decision should be taken within 3 days. If the request results clearly well-founded, is done by a person that falls within the vulnerable categories or by an applicant held at a centre, the request is examined with priority.

In case of a negative result, one may ask a re-examination instance
This request can be done only in case of new elements or documents not available before.
It is also possible (for those not held at a centre) to send a reassessment request to the commission that examined the application if one believes that important elements were not taken into consideration or became available later on. Meanwhile is necessary to make an appeal to remain in Italy.

The Appeal
The appeal has to be made to an ordinary Court. The competent Court is the one at the Court of Appeal’s main town district where the Territorial Commission is located.
The appeal blocks the procedure of expulsion, but the recent normative modifications preview numerous exceptions:

- those who received a denial following the audition where they were not present;
- those applicants whose request was rejected for groundlessness;
- those who had been transferred in CARA because of irregular presence or to a CIE.
The claimant may ask the Court, at the moment of appeal, the suspension of the measure for serious and well-founded reasons.

The appeal limits previewed by the law are 30 days. After the appeal the law disposes the issuing of a asylum request permit.
For the applicants held on CIE or CARA the limits for the appeal are 15 days.
The applicant has the right – if subsists income requisitions – to free patronage at the expense of the State. The income may be self-certified, without turning to documentation that normally must be requested to the origin country Embassy.
The appeal may be done also in case of status retraction measure.

First assistance contribution
In case of reception places unavailability will be supplied, upon request, an economic contribution with an amount established by the Ministry of the Interior.

The asylum seeker cannot work on the first 2 months after his entry in Italy. At the second renewal he/she has the right of a permission for 6 months with the explicit wording that it’s a permission that allows to work. It’s not however convertible in a job permission visa.
The refugee and the beneficiary of humanitarian protection can work, can register at placement lists and frequent training courses. In case of stipulation of an employment contract they cannot stipulate a residence contract, as explained on ministerial note of 25 october 2005 in clarification to competences on Sportello Unico.

The asylum seeker in possession of a visa and of a tax code has the duty of inscription to National Health Service, that gives the right to a general practitioner and of specialized services, without paying, namely with medical charges exemption.
The refugee and the subsidiary protection beneficiary must register at Health Service to have the benefit of medical services with expense sharing.

Repeal and cessation of status
The decision about status repeal and/or cessation measures is attributed to National Commission.
The cessation of refugee status can be disposed if the foreigner:

- voluntarily avails again himself of the protection of the Country in which he/she has citizenship;

- losing the citizenship, voluntarily regains it;

- has gained the Italian citizenship or other citizenship and enjoys the protection of this Country;

- voluntarily re-establishes himself on the Country that he/she left – also for fear of being persecuted;

- can’t no more give up to his/her own Country protection, because the circumstances that determine the refugee status are no more valid;

- is a stateless person able to return to the Country where he/she usually had residence because the circumstances that determine the refugee status are no more valid;

In the last two cases the circumstances change must be non-temporary and able to remove the well-founded fear of persecution; there has to be no serious humanitarian reasons that impede the return to the origin Country.

The repeal of refugee status may be disposed – on individual basis – if after the refugee status recognition, it’s verified that:

- there are still reasons for the denial of status on the basis of requirements or of danger for the State security;

- the refugee status recognition has been determined – in an exclusive way – from facts introduced in a wrong way or from their omission, or from recourse to fake documentation of facts;

The cessation of subsidiary protection status may be disposed if the circumstances that induced to the recognition are no more valid or has changed in such a manner that the protection is no more necessary.
The changed circumstances must be so important and non-temporary that the person is no more exposed to actual risk of serious damage provided for by article 14 and there has to be no more humanitarian reasons that impede the return to origin Country.

The repeal of subsidiary protection status may be disposed if, after the status recognition, is ensured that:

- there are still causes of exclusion to procedure access;

- the subsisiary protection status recognition has been determined – in an exclusive way – from facts introduced in a wrong way or from their omission, or from recourse to fake documentation of facts;

In all these cases the person concerned must be informed of the procedure in progress and must have the possibility to be heard in a personal interview.

Translated by Alessia Bertin