«Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution»
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 14 (1)
WHO IS CONSIDERED A REFUGEE AND WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU WANT TO APPLY FO ASYLUM IN RUSSIA?
Russia joined the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1992 and passed a law “On refugees” in 1993. As a consequence, Russia has taken up an obligation to provide protection for this social group.
WHO IS CONSIDERED A REFUGEE?
According to the 1951 UN Convention, you are considered a refugee if you are outside of the country of your citizenship or do not have specific citizenship and if the following applies:
— you have well-founded fears that you may be persecuted on the basis of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion in the country of origin;
— you cannot or do not dare to return to your country of origin due to these fears;
— you are unable or unwilling to receive necessary protection from your country of origin due to such concerns.
WHERE CAN YOU APPLY FO ASYLUM IN RUSSIA?
To get asylum in Russia, you should file an application for refugee status in one of the regional offices of the Main Directorate for Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.
WHEN SHOULD YOU APPLY FOR ASYLUM?
As soon as possible once you arrive in Russia. Although the law allows you to apply for asylum at any time, in practice many people are held administratively liable before they manage to request refugee status. For example, if your visa has expired or if you are not registered at the place of your residence.
BEFORE YOU APPLY FOR ASYLUM, IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW THAT
— everyone has the right to access the procedure, meaning that there can be no justification to deny someone access to the refugee status application procedure, even if you have violated the rules of staying in the country or you do not have an identity card;
— asylum seekers also have the right to: be helped by a non-state representative, to get free of charge translation services, to be sent to the Temporary Accommodation Center and receive free of charge accommodation, food and medical care in that center.
Although there are no legal grounds for refusing to accept applications, and the Federal Law “On Refugees” does not require a refugee to have a passport, in practice, when applying for asylum to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, people are asked to present the following documents:
— an application for recognition as a refugee, indicating the reasons why they had to leave their homeland;
— two photographs taken at the time of application, in black and white or in color, 35×45 mm in size;
— a national passport or another document proving the identity of a foreign citizen or a stateless person (together with translation).
WHAT ARE THE STEPS OF THE REFUGEE STATUS APPLICATION PROCEDURE?
— identification of the applicant’s identity, which involves taking fingerprints and photos, as well as checking against the databases of the Federal Migration Service, the Federal Security Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
— interview with filling out a basic question form and an in-depth questionnaire;
— subsequent individual interviews and additional interviews are also possible, but extremely rare;
— consideration of the application, during which the applicant can provide additional documents, providing proof for what has been said during the interview; which consists of two steps:
1. Preliminary consideration of the application (within 5 working days from the date when the application has been received);
2. Consideration of the application on the merits (within 3 months from the date of the decision on the consideration of the application on the merits)
— for the period of consideration of the application, the applicant is issued a certificate for a period of 3 months, which gives the right to stay legally in Russia; An ID card of the refugee must be deposited with the migration service for these three months;
— a decision on granting refugee status is served within 3 days from the date of its adoption.
If you have been denied access to the procedure or have not been granted asylum following the examination of the application, you have the right to appeal the actions and omissions of officials to higher authorities and / or the court.
Links to important documents:
1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
2. UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
3. Federal Law “On Refugees”
4. Administrative regulations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation on the consideration of applications for refugee status and temporary asylum
Translated by Daria Gorbacheva
Illustration by Ezra Smith