Refugees and Asylum
Granting of asylum is based on the UN 1951 Convention relating to the Status of refugees. according to this Convention, the term refugee applies to the person who “owing to well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” aiming at minimizing the cases of misusing the system of asylum the EU countries try to consider the applications in more limited timeframes in order to cut down on time for making decision.
International Protection in Georgia
The issues related to obtaining asylum in Georgia are regulated by the Law of Georgia on International Protection. The Law provides for the following forms of international protection:
• Refugee status;
• Humanitarian status;
• Status of a person under temporary protection.
The decision to grant any of the above-mentioned statuses is made by the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia.
Refugee status - shall be granted to an alien or stateless person, who is outside the country of origin due to well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of the country of origin.
Humanitarian status - shall be granted to an alien or stateless person who does not qualify as a refugee but in respect of whom there are reasons to believe that upon return to the country of origin he/she will face a risk of suffering serious harm. The Georgian legislation defines the serious harm as:
a) the death penalty or threat to execution;
b) torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the country of origin;
c) serious individual threat to life by reason of indiscriminate violence, international or internal armed conflict or mass violation of human rights.
Status of person under temporary protection - The Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia registers persons who arrive to Georgia in the event of a mass influx and makes a decision to grant them a status of persons under temporary protection, if they are in need of international protection and are unable to return to the country of origin on account of indiscriminate violence, aggression, international or internal armed conflict or mass violation of human rights.
Request for international protection is a direct or indirect, verbal or written expression of a wish of a foreigner or stateless person to seek international protection in Georgia. The foreigner or stateless person may submit a request for international protection at the border, while entering Georgia, or while being on the territory of Georgia.
In case of illegal entry or stay in Georgia, a person shall apply for international protection to any state agency without delay.
International protection application shall be made in written form with assistance of a competent interpreter when needed. The application submitted to the Ministry is registered immediately and an asylum-seeker certificate is issued.
An asylum-seeker shall submit all information (including information on the country of origin) and proof in support of his/her application for international protection and cooperate with the competent official. The asylum-seeker is also obliged to credibly explain the reasons for any lack of supporting information or proof.
Applications for seeking international protection in Georgia are processed according to the set procedures and regulations. Accordingly, in case the provisions defined by the 1951 UN Convention on Status of Refugees and those prescribed by the Law on International Protection of Georgia are not established, the applicant shall be refused the requested status. The applicant may also be refused the status in case there are reasonable grounds to consider that the person represents a threat to state security or territorial integrity of Georgia or its public order, or is convicted for a serious crime in Georgia.
A person registered as the asylum-seeker in Georgia shall be issued a temporary identification card for the period of one year. This document entitles its holder to enjoy different rights according to the law.
|Note:Asylum-seeker or person under international protection shall not be returned or expelled to the border of the country where his/her life or freedom would be threatened on account of the race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. This principle is known as the “principle of non-refoulement”.|
Under the regular procedure, an international protection application shall be considered within 6 months upon its registration. This term can be extended for up to 9 months.
Upon granting the status of asylum-seeker, the person shall be issued a temporary residence card. In addition, the person with a refugee status shall be issued a travel document as prescribed by the 1951 UN Convention, while the person with a humanitarian status shall be issued a travel passport. In order to get a temporary residence car or a travel document/passport, a person under international protection shall apply to the territorial office of the Public Service Development Agency, branch of a Public Service Hall or a Community Centre.
Temporary residence card shall be issued free of charge to the person with a humanitarian status for the period of validity of the humanitarian status, and to the person with a refugee status – for the period of 3 years.
Travel document/passport of the person with a refugee/humanitarian status shall be issued free of charge within the period of 10 working days, for the period of 2 years in case of the refugee and for 1 year in case of the humanitarian status holder.
|Note:The person with a refugee or humanitarian status is obliged to obey the Constitution of Georgia and other legislative and normative acts of Georgia, as well as respect local culture, traditions and customs. He/she is also obliged to notify the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia on changing the factual residential address and/or other contact information.|
The person with the refugee or humanitarian status has the right to:
a) Choose a place of residence and move freely on the territory of Georgia;
b) Receive monthly allowance as determined by Georgian legislation;
c) Travel to another country except for his country of origin or the countries where his family members are not considered to be safe;
d) Receive pre-school and general education as provided for Georgian citizens, benefit from state healthcare and social programs (except for exceptional cases), and have access to vocational and higher education according to the procedures established by Georgian legislation;
e) Apply to the authorised agency for Georgian citizenship;
f) Carry out labour activity on an equal basis with Georgian citizens; namely, be self-employed or hired by another employer.
For additional information on the acquisition of the refugee or humanitarian status and issuance of corresponding documents, please visit the following websites: www.mra.gov.ge; www.sda.gov.ge, www.psh.gov.ge.
Travel document for Refugees
From 2009 Georgia started issuing a Refugee Travel document in conformity with the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees of 1951.
A Refugee Travel document is issued to allow persons with a refugee status to leave Georgia (except for travel to the countries of their citizenship, countries of their earlier permanent residence or those countries, where the refugees or their family members are not considered safe), to move to foreign countries and enter Georgia.