Montenegro is a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Government has the responsibility to process asylum claims and to decide whether somebody can be granted refugee status in Montenegro.
What is asylum ?
Asylum is granted to a foreign national seeking international protection, who is outside their country of origin, and has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, and therefore is unable or unwilling to accept the protection granted by the home country. This person is called a refugee in international law, whereas in Montenegro such a person has the status of an asylee.
Subsidiary protection is granted to a foreigner seeking international protection, who does not qualify for asylum, provided that substantial grounds have been shown indicating that the person if returned to the country of origin, would face a real risk of suffering serious harm and is therefore unable, or, due to such risk, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country.
The authorities in Montenegro will examine your application and will decide in accordance with the Law on International and Temporary Protection of Foreigners in Montenegro.
During the asylum procedure, you have to stay in Montenegro. If you leave without permission to another country while your asylum application is still pending in Montenegro, your asylum procedure will be terminated.
Who is entitled to apply ?
If you are on the territory of Montenegro, you can seek asylum (officially referred to as international protection in Montenegro) in case:
- You are afraid to return to your country of origin because you are being persecuted in your country
- You are afraid of being persecuted for belonging to a particular race, religion, nationality, or social group
- You hold political beliefs for which you have been persecuted
- You hold political beliefs for which you are afraid that you will be persecuted
- You cannot return to your country due to the threat of a death penalty or execution, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
You cannot return to your country of origin because there is a serious and individual danger to your life as a civilian due to widespread violence as part of armed conflict
How to apply for asylum ?
Montenegro has a two-step asylum procedure.
First, you need to express your intention to apply for asylum. The intention to apply for international protection is an oral or written statement of intention to apply for international protection in Montenegro. The intention can be expressed at a border crossing point, at a police station located in the place where you are, or at the Reception Centre in Bozaj.
Once you have stated your intention, your personal data verifying your identity will be collected, including your biometrics, i.e. fingerprints (each fingerprinted) and a photo. You will also be issued a certificate proving that you have expressed your intention to seek international protection. This certificate gives you the right to legally reside in Montenegro and exercise the right to accommodation in the facilities of the Government’s Directorate for the Reception of Foreigners Seeking International Protection in the next 15 days.
During the 15-day certificate validity period, you have the right to lodge an application for international protection in Montenegro. If you fail to do so within the 15-day period, you will lose the right to reside legally in the country and thus you will no longer be able to submit the application for international protection.
Secondly, you need to lodge an asylum application. An application for international protection is made to the Asylum Directorate, no later than 15 days from the day of the expressed intention. The Directorate for Asylum is open from Monday to Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m
If you are placed in a healthcare institution, you will be given the opportunity to apply for international protection in the healthcare institution in which you are a patient.
After lodging an application for international protection, you will have the status of a foreigner seeking international protection and you will be issued a certificate proving that you have applied for international protection, serving as a residence permit in Montenegro pending a final decision on the application for international protection.
What will happen if I am detained at the State border crossing?
If you find yourself at the border crossing point or in the transit area of an airport or a seaport and you do not meet the requirements for a legal entry to Montenegro, you may be detained at the border crossing where you will be allowed to lodge an application for international protection. In that case, the final decision on your application will be rendered within 28 days from the day you submitted the application. In case it is assessed that you qualify for granting international protection or if no decision is made within 28 days, you will be allowed to enter Montenegro.
What happens next ?
Upon the application for international protection, the Ministry will, as soon as feasible, schedule the interview with you, where you will be able to explain all the facts, circumstances and reasons for seeking protection and submit all supporting evidence that you have at your disposal or are able to obtain.
The interview will be held in a language you understand, with the assistance of an interpreter. If this is possible and justified, the procedure upon your application for international protection will be conducted by an authorized official person of the same sex.
What decision can I expect under my application for International protection ?
The Asylum Directorate may: a) adopt your application and grant you asylum or subsidiary protection b) refuse your application.
If you withdraw your application for international protection, avoid the invitation to interviews, do not appear at the interview for unjustified reasons or change your place of residence for more than 3 days without prior notification of the Directorate for Asylum or the Reception Centre, the procedure upon your application for international protection will be suspended.
What is the deadline for decision-making?
The Ministry of Interior will decide upon your application within 6 months from the day of submitting the application for international protection. This deadline can be extended by 9 months, for the reasons set out in the law, or by additional 3 months, in order to fully examine your application.
The decision shall be passed no later than 21 months from the day your application for international protection was made.
What if I am not happy with the decision?
An appeal may be lodged against any decision to the Administrative Court, within 15 days of receipt of the decision, for which you need to contact your legal representative.
Legal Aid / Counselling
From the moment you declare your intention to seek international protection in Montenegro until the final decision on your application has been made, you are entitled to free legal aid, including during the preparation for the interview and in the course of the interview. Should a negative decision be made and there are grounds for a lawsuit, you are entitled to free legal aid during the second instance procedure.
If you have sufficient funds of your own, you can engage an attorney/lawyer.