I have just arrived in Italy and I’m seeking asylum. What do I need to do first?
Anyone who arrives in Italy must present him or herself to the national authorities to be identified. Do not be afraid of the police, as they can help and protect you. To be identified, you must state your first name, last name, date of birth, the country in which you were born, and the country of which you are a citizen in a correct and complete manner. If you have any documents at this stage, show them. It is important that you state if you are travelling with family members. It is also essential that you explain the reasons why you left your country and the reasons why you entered Italy. The identification procedure consists of taking your photo and fingerprints. This is standard procedure for all new arrivals. It is important that you understand what is being communicated to you and that your statements are correctly reported in the documents you sign. Therefore, if something is not clear to you or you have doubts, you can ask for clarifications with the help of an interpreter.
If you are under 18 years of age and you are travelling alone, immediately report it to the authorities or, if available, to humanitarian organizations. Children arriving in Italy on their own, have the right to be protected and to access reception centers dedicated for them. They also have the right to remain in Italy and be assisted by a guardian. If you have a health problem or other specific need, refer it immediately to the authorities or, if available, to humanitarian organizations.
How, where and when can I apply for asylum?
If you are afraid to return to your country of origin because your life or that of your family is in danger, you have the right to ask for protection. If you do not have any citizenship and are afraid to return to the country of your current residence because your life or that of your family members is in danger, you have the right to ask for protection. You can ask for protection if you:
- Have been persecuted or afraid to be persecuted for your race, nationality, ethnic group membership, religion, political opinion,
- belong to a particular social group and are afraid of being subjected to violence or slavery,
- Are afraid of being sentenced to death, tortured or coming from a war zone.
After expressing your fear of returning to your country, you are considered as an asylum seeker by the authorities. To register your request for asylum, you must contact the Italian Police, both upon your arrival or any time fear of returning to your country emerges. Your request will then be forwarded to a special Commission that has the task of assessing your application.
The Immigration Office of the Police, together with an interpreter of your language, will then help you to fill in a form, called C3, which contains some more detailed personal information such as your ethnic group, your language, your religion. At this stage, the authorities, will ask you how your trip to Europe took place, whether you have been subjected to torture, trauma, violence and detention in your country or during your trip, if you belong to political groups, if you have family members in Italy or Europe and if you have documents with you. If you have health problems or specific needs, you can talk about them now and at any other time during the procedure. In fact, if you suffer from serious illnesses or mental distress, or have been subjected to torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence, you have the right to receive appropriate assistance and specialized services. At this stage, clearly explain the reasons why you are asking for protection. If you prefer, you can submit these reasons in writing. At this stage, if needed, you can ask to be hosted in a reception centre. It is important that you understand what is being said to you and that your statements are correctly reported on the form. If any points are not clear, ask the interpreter to clarify what has been said. At the end of the interview they will ask you to sign this form and give you a copy. Keep it in a safe place. All information you provide will be treated with the utmost confidentiality and will not be shared with the authorities of your country of origin, or with third countries. In some cases, your application for protection could be assessed with a specific accelerated procedure which is processed within shorter terms. With health problems or specific needs, you have the right to priority examination of your application. Remember, if you need more information, you can contact the reception centre’s legal advisor or the Immigration Office.
As an asylum seeker, you have the right, if you need it, to be welcomed in a special centre, to have a temporary residence permit and to remain on Italian territory waiting for your application to be examined. Remember, as long as you are an asylum seeker you cannot leave the Italian territory. Two months after the compilation of the C3 you have the right to work regularly in Italy. Remember, throughout the procedure, you have the right to contact the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, or another organization, such as ARCI, partner organization of UNHCR at the Helpline for refugees +39 800 905 570 or +39 3511376335 for Lycamobile users/Whatsapp, e-mail [email protected].
Can I move to another European country?
From the moment you are in this country, it is Italy that has the task to protect you and, therefore, to register your application for asylum (international protection). Generally, the country responsible for assessing your asylum application is the country where you first entered Europe. However, if you have family members living in other European countries, or if you have documents issued by other European countries, your application may be examined by the other country, where you might be legally and safely transferred. For this reason, it is important that you inform the authorities as soon as possible if you have a family member in another European country. This procedure is called the “Dublin procedure”, and its sole purpose is to identify the country in which your asylum application will be considered, but it does not cover the reasons why you have applied for protection. The Dublin procedure applies to all member states of the European Union as well as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Who will decide on my application for asylum?
In Italy, the only authority responsible for examining your asylum application is the Territorial Commission for the Recognition of International Protection. The Territorial Commissions are part of the Italian Ministry of Interior. UNHCR is not responsible for making decisions on asylum applications in Italy. Your request will be examined through an interview in which you have the right to ask for the presence of an interpreter of the same language and sex as you. Your interview could be video recorded. In case you do not agree, you can express your reasons to the Commission that will decide on your request. At all stages, but especially at this time, you have the opportunity to show documents, personal memories, medical certificates, photographs, or other evidence that you consider useful for your request for protection. The Territorial Commission may grant refugee status, subsidiary protection or take a negative decision. In the latter case, the Commission may still grant you an additional form of protection called special protection. If you do not agree with decisions taken by the commission, you have the right to appeal. You also have the right to free legal assistance.
What are my rights as a refugee?
If you are granted a form of protection, you are entitled to a residence permit that varies in duration according to the type of recognition: five years in cases of international protection, i.e. refugee status and subsidiary protection; two years in cases of special protection. When it expires, you can apply for a renewal of your residence permit. You have the right to work, study and receive medical assistance.
If you have refugee status or subsidiary protection status, you can apply for a document that allows you to travel and move around Europe for up to ninety days. Be informed that in Italy the Italian government is responsible for refugee documentation, not UNHCR. The travel document is also valid in non-European countries, but not in your country of origin. In any case, before leaving, always inform the embassy of the country to which you want to go.
You also have the right to bring your family to Italy legally and safely, through a procedure called family reunification. Remember, if you are in any doubt about any aspect of the procedure or need more information, you can contact the legal representative of the centre where you are staying, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, or another organization, such as ARCI, partner organization of UNHCR at the Helpline for refugees +39 800 905 570 or +39 3511376335 for Lycamobile users/Whatsapp, e-mail [email protected].
How can I bring my family to Italy?
Please see the section on Family reunification