An asylum seeker is someone who has fled their country because of persecution or serious harm and is applying for international protection and refugee status in another country. Learn more about asylum seekers and other key migration terms.
Asylum procedures vary across Europe, depending on the national legislation of each country. However, European Union asylum law stipulates that EU member states must protect the rights of asylum seekers. This means that everyone in need is guaranteed a fair asylum application process, and countries are required to provide asylum seekers with accommodation and essential items. In some cases, asylum seekers are given vouchers but rarely cash payments.
The Dublin Regulation, an EU law, means that many asylum seekers are the responsibility of the first European country they reach. This means that if they have arrived in one European state and have then moved on to other countries they face being sent back to the first state in which they arrived. The Dublin Regulation also means that asylum seekers are not given the choice of which country will examine their asylum claim, or which one they will live in or where they will be placed within that country.
Asylum application processes can take a long time. Although most countries aim to resolve cases within six months, they often extend this period, especially in times of high volumes of applications.
Asylum applications can be difficult and complex. While some applications are successful, others are refused asylum, which means that they are obliged to leave the country where they applied for international protection. In some cases, they will be held in detention centres until they are returned to their country of origin. Asylum seekers whose claim has been rejected have the right to appeal the decision. Those who are accepted are given a residence permit which allows them to work for a fixed amount of time before their case is reviewed.