What is asylum?
Asylum is a form of protection that allows a foreigner who cannot return to the country of origin to remain in Romania. Any foreigner who left his/her country of origin because he/she fears persecution, serious human rights violations or armed conflict can apply for asylum.
If you are granted asylum, you cannot be removed (deported) to your country of origin.
Applying for asylum is a fundamental human right.
Note: Citizens of Romania cannot apply for asylum in Romania.
Where and how can I apply for asylum?
Depending on where you are located, different forms of asylum procedures may apply. You may ask for asylum at the Border Police, the Police, or the General Inspectorate for Immigration.
However, all asylum applications in Romania are evaluated and resolved by the General Inspectorate for Immigration. If you first come in contact with the Border Police or the Police, they will immediately send your asylum application to the General Inspectorate for Immigration.
From the moment you ask for asylum, either in writing or verbally, you are considered an asylum seeker. You cannot be removed (deported) to your country of origin.
It is important that you contact the appropriate authorities as soon as possible.
Once you ask for asylum, you will be asked to sit for some interviews and fill in some papers. The standard procedure includes some questionnaires and consent forms and two interviews.
The preliminary interview is short and only sums up some details of your journey to Romania and the reasons you left your country of origin. The second interview is longer and can take up to 2-3 hours. This is the most important part of your asylum procedure and you need to give as many details as possible regarding the reasons and fears you have for leaving your country of origin, provide any proof and documentation you have to back up your claim, if any, and give a detailed account of your journey.
If you came irregularly or you are apprehended by the Border Police, they will first make some verifications, including and not limited to fingerprinting and picture taking.
You need to cooperate with the authorities and follow their instructions.
It is critical to be as honest and specific as possible. In order to receive proper support, it is also very important to tell the truth about your age, circumstances, and needs.
You can contact a lawyer, an NGO, or UNHCR at any point during the asylum procedure.
Please note that, in Romania, UNHCR has no formal role in the asylum procedure and UNHCR does, in general, not intervene in individual cases, nor provide individual legal representation or counselling. However, we do work with NGO partners who offer free legal counselling throughout the country.
Please ask for advice and information from them as soon as possible after you apply for asylum, in order to understand the deadlines and procedures that apply to your case!
Applying for asylum at a border crossing point or international airport
If you are at a border crossing point or in an international airport, you can contact the Border Police officers, in writing or verbally, tell them that you are afraid to return to your country and ask for “asylum” and/or “protection”. Your application will be forwarded by the Border Police to the General Inspectorate for Immigration who will assess your claim.
After you apply for asylum, you have to wait for permission to enter the territory and to be granted access to the asylum procedure.
In most cases, an officer from the General Inspectorate for Immigration will interview you to hear your story, ask how you arrived in Romania and the reasons why you need protection. The officer may decide either to assess your application while you remain at the border or to let you enter the territory and give you access to the usual asylum procedure (see details below). If the officer decides not to let you on the territory, you will stay at the border from 3 days up to 20 days.
If your asylum application is rejected at the border, you have the right to file a complaint in court within 7 days after you were informed of the negative decision. A decision issued by the court is final and can not be changed.
Applying for asylum from within Romania
If you have already entered Romania and you are in need of international protection or fear to return home, you have to go to the authority responsible for asylum applications, the General Inspectorate for Immigration a map with their offices where you can ask for asylum is available here.
You can also go and apply for asylum at one of the six Regional Reception Centres for Accommodation and Procedures for Asylum-Seekers. These are located in Bucharest (capital city, see map), Giurgiu (south, see map), Galati (est, see map), Radauti (north-est, see map), Somcuta Mare (north-west, see map), Timisoara (west, see map).
You can also apply for asylum with the Border Police or the Police by going to any of their local offices or by asking any officer you encounter.
Tell them that you are afraid to return to your country and ask for “asylum” and/or “protection. They will inform the General Inspectorate for Immigration about your application and you will be taken to the nearest Regional Reception Centre.
The authorities will issue a decision within 30 days. If your asylum application is rejected, you have the right to file a complaint in court within 10 days. A decision issued by the court is final and cannot be changed.
Applying for asylum in a Public Custody Center
If you have been placed in public custody in order to be removed from Romania, you still have the right to apply for asylum if you think you are in need of protection and you fear returning to your home country.
This can be your situation if you are in the Public Custody Centre in Otopeni (near Bucharest) or in Arad/Horia (near the Hungarian-Romanian border), for example because you entered the country irregularly, if your right to stay expired, or if you did not comply with the obligation to leave the country.
If you wish to seek asylum, tell the authorities at the centre in writing or verbally that you are afraid to return to your country and ask for “asylum” and/or “protection”. Your request will be sent to the responsible department within the General Inspectorate for Immigration. Depending on your situation, different procedures will be applied.
Applying for asylum does not mean you will be automatically released from public custody.
If it is your first asylum application in Romania, the officer will first decide if you have valid reasons for seeking asylum. If the officer decides you have valid reasons for seeking asylum, your application will be further analysed in the normal asylum procedure and you will be released and possibly sent to an open centre. If you do not have valid reasons, your application will be rejected in the “accelerated procedure” and you will remain in the public custody centre.
You have the right to complain in court against the negative decision within 7 days after receiving the decision.
If this is not your first asylum application in Romania and you have new reasons or the situation in your country of origin has recently changed, you can ask for access to a new asylum procedure. If this is granted, you will be able to leave the public custody centre and go to an open center.
While you are in a Public Custody Centre, you can contact your lawyer, NGO and/or UNHCR. Please ask for advice and information as soon as possible after you apply for asylum, in order to understand the deadlines and procedures that apply to your case!