From February 24, 2022, the issue of obtaining protection in other countries became relevant for Ukrainians in connection with the beginning of the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. According to the UN, almost 2 million people have already left Ukraine. In such circumstances, Ukrainian citizens, primarily women, and children have the opportunity to receive protection in neighboring countries under a simplified procedure until the end of hostilities.
From a legal point of view, refugees are people who are forced to leave their place of residence due to extraordinary circumstances. These circumstances can be different: war, natural or artificial disaster, political repression, famine, etc.
International instruments governing the rights of refugees and guaranteeing protection include the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 New York Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.
The procedure for applying for and examining an asylum seeker varies considerably from country to country, including within the European Union.
Refugee status can only be obtained in the safe country where a person first crossed the border. It is necessary to prove the circumstances under which a citizen cannot feel safe in his country. Consideration of the application may take from two months and may continue due to the need to submit additional documents proving the circumstances.
During the examination process, as a rule, the applicant cannot leave the country, it is necessary to apply for refugee status for a limited time, and in some cases, the passport may be temporarily revoked. Based on the results of consideration of the application, a decision is made on granting or not granting refugee status.
Temporary protection is regulate4d by other laws. Thus, in 2001, the EU Council adopted the Temporary Protection Directive. The directive was developed for situations of the mass influx of refugees into the EU. The idea of this mechanism is to prevent the overloading of asylum systems, which cannot process a large number of applications quickly. And also to simplify the process as much as possible so that applicants have the opportunity to stay in the EU, have the chance to use the medicine, study, and obtain the necessary documents (tax and social numbers, etc.).
Unlike refugees, all citizens and residents of Ukraine can receive temporary protection on equal terms after crossing the border. The provision of temporary shelter is as simple as possible, does not require a unique package of documents, and does not restrict the person’s movement.
The EU put in place a mechanism on March 4, 2022, for people fleeing the union’s territory from the war waged by Russia against Ukraine.
You can cross the border with EU countries with any identity document. Children under 16 traveling with their parents must show a birth certificate. In addition, children have the right to cross the border with one parent (without the official permission of the other parent). If the child is traveling with acquaintances or relatives, you need a notarized travel permit.
You should contact one of the reception points. You can get food, recreation, and the necessary information on these points. Volunteers can also be asked to provide housing or medical care.
Displaced persons can find housing on the Internet, including Booking.com, Airbnb services, etc. Please note that additional requirements may apply when renting through an agency or directly from the owners. For example, availability of a local ID number, lease term from 6-12 months with warranty payments, local guarantor, etc. We recommend that you carefully read the contract or involve local lawyers when signing the agreements. The European Young Advocates Association (EYBA) has prepared a list of lawyers who can provide free advice or assistance to Ukrainian citizens. The list can be found at the link.
In the case of crossing the border with a biometric passport, the legal period of stay in the EU is 90 days for 180 days. If you want to stay longer, you should contact the national authority of the host country.
The national authorities of the state where the displaced person is staying must inform about the right to temporary protection. Next, you need to apply for a temporary residence permit and follow9 their instructions in the national process. This process includes the registration of data and confirmation that the person is subject to temporary protection and that none of the exclusion provisions apply to their situation.
After determining the address where the displaced person plans to live in most European countries, it is necessary to register the place of residence or stay by contacting the relevant authority. In Germany, applications are accepted by the Foreign Citizens’ Registration Office at the place of residence or stay. You may first apply for an unofficial written residence permit, stating your personal details, the reason for your stay, and the date of your first entry into the EU.
In Poland, the national body is the regional administration. It provides the right to social support and the right to use public services in the country (housing, education, medical services, social security, financial aid). You need to contact her to register your location and get a PESEL number. This is a personal social security number. In Portugal, applications are accepted by the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras).
When visiting national authorities, you must have a Ukrainian or foreign passport.
It is unnecessary to have a veterinary passport to transport the animal, but it is desirable to have one. Special rules for crossing the border with animals may be established by veterinary or boundary services of other countries.
Persons in respect of whom there are serious grounds for believing that they have committed a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity, a serious non-political crime outside the EU (Article 28 § 1 of the Directive).
No. After crossing the border with an EU country, a person can receive temporary protection for one year with the right of extension. The temporary shelter provides the necessary rights to stay in the country. In many countries, temporary protection is equated with rights deriving from a temporary residence permit. Obtaining temporary protection does not prevent a person from applying for refugee status. It is at the discretion of the displaced person.
You can not apply immediately but stay in the country as a tourist, but the right to employment, education, free medicine will not be granted.
Ukrainians who escape from the russian invasion are considered displaced persons entitled to temporary protection. Temporary protection and refugee status are different legal procedures.
As a general rule, temporary protection is valid for one year with the right to extend and provides such rights as access to work, education, social security, medical care, etc. Specific rights will be determined by the domestic law of each EU country. You should contact the local authorities dealing with temporary protection to obtain the appropriate rights.
The material is prepared for AIN
Authors of the material:
Sergiy Barbashin, attorney, managing partner at Trustme Law Firm
Roman Tkan, lawyer at Trustme Law Firm