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Applying for asylum

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Anyone who is in Italy can seek protection from the Italian state by applying for asylum, if they fear persecution or danger in their country of origin.

If you apply for asylum, and you get international protection or another form of protection, you have the right to stay in Italy and not to be sent back to your home country.

You can use this article to learn more about:

  • Asking for asylum
  • Identification and fingerprinting
  • Formalization of asylum request (C3)
  • Interview with the Territorial Commission
  • Decision of the Territorial Commission

Where and how to ask for asylum

Italian law states that you can ask for asylum either at the Border Police upon arrival, or at the Immigration Office of the Police (‘Questura’ in Italian) if you are already in Italy.

You can request to apply for international protection orally or in writing, in your own language with the help of an interpreter. If the interpreter for your language is not available at that moment, Questura will schedule an appointment for you.

Seeking asylum is a fundamental right and Questura or Border Police cannot deny you this right. They must allow you to submit your asylum request. If you have troubles accessing your right to asylum, drop us a message on our Facebook page.

As an asylum-seeker, you have the right to stay in a reception center.

Identification and fingerprinting

After expressing your intention to seek international protection, the police will identify you by registering your personal data, taking photos of you and recording your fingerprints. The police will also ask you to hand over your passport. The fingerprinting and photographing process is called ‘fotosegnalamento’ in Italian.

It could happen that Questura fingerprints you once you ask for asylum, or that they give you a specific appointment for that – which could be later than you might expect.

Authorities will upload your fingerprints to the European database Eurodac. If they find out that you were fingerprinted in another EU country before Italy, they send a request to the Interior Ministry - Dublin unit, who will determine which country is responsible for examining your asylum claim.

Once the police have fingerprinted you, they will give you a paper containing your next appointment with Questura for the formalization of your asylum request.

Not having a valid address in Italy should not affect your right to submit your asylum application. Nevertheless, in the past some questure denied asylum requests because the applicant did not have a declaration of hospitality or house contract. If this is also your case, we suggest that you get in touch with a lawyer.

Learn more about: Fingerprinting process

Formalization of your asylum request (C3)

In a new appointment with Questura, or more rarely the same day of your fotosegnalamento, you will have to fill out a form called ‘Modello C3’. This form allows you to formalize your asylum request.

To complete the C3 form, Questura will ask you about your personal data, your family, your journey and the reasons you fled your country. You can also submit documents that prove your situation, as well as your written story. You can request the assistance of an interpreter.

Questura should give you a copy of your C3 and documents you submitted. If they do not do it, remember to ask for it!

Once you complete and submit the C3 form and the government registers it, your request for asylum is formalized. Then, your asylum application goes to the Territorial Commission, who is in charge of analyzing and deciding about your claim.

C3 is different from ‘foglio notizie’. Foglio notizie is a document that some Questure may ask you to fill out before submitting the C3, usually during the identification process. The police use the foglio notizie to distinguish economic migrants from asylum-seekers. If you want to seek asylum, never choose the option “work” or “study”, but “international protection”, “asylum”, or “other reasons” and write “international protection” or “asylum”. If they consider you an economic migrant, they will not formalize your request for international protection, and they will hand you an expulsion order.

Learn more about: C3 form

Permesso di soggiorno

Throughout your asylum procedure, you have the right to stay in Italy with a 6-month permit of stay called Permesso di Soggiorno per Richiesta Asilo. Questura will give you an appointment to issue you this permit. This may take longer than you might expect.

If you are a Dublin case, you will receive a Permesso di Soggiorno Dublino instead.

Learn more about: Permesso di Soggiorno per Richiesta Asilo

Getting to your appointment with Questura

The questura won’t help you pay for your transport to your appointment.

If you need to travel a long distance to reach a questura, you will need to either organize transport for yourself or seek help from NGOs working at border areas.

If you live in a reception center, the organization that manages it will help you arrange your appointments and help you get there.

Interview with the Territorial Commission

After formalizing your asylum request, you will have to wait until you are summoned for an interview before the Commissione Territoriale per il Riconoscimento della Protezione Internazionale (Territorial Commission in English).

The Territorial Commission is the authority in charge of examining your asylum case and deciding whether to grant you international protection or not. Territorial Commissions are located in main Italian cities. Click here to see a full list.

When possible, the person who interviews you will be your same gender.

The interviewing officer will then present your case to the other members of the Territorial Commission, and together they will make a decision.

Learn more about: Asylum interview

How do I know when my interview will be?

If you’re staying in a center, Questura will notify your center’s director, who then should let you know your interview date.

If you left the center and/or you are living on your own, inform Questura of your new address and put your name on your building entrance door bell – you will receive a letter with the appointment for your interview with the Commission there.

How long does it take to be interviewed?

According to Italian law, the Territorial Commission interviews the applicant within 30 days of receiving the application, then makes a decision within 3 working days. In practice, this never happens. The time it takes to get an interview varies, and it could be that people who submitted their application at the same time are interviewed at different times.

Generally, people wait from 6 months to one year to be interviewed after filing their C3. In some cases, the Territorial Commission may take 2 to 6 more months to issue the decision.

However, there are some specific cases that the Commission may examine with priority. This happens when:

  • Your asylum application is likely to be successful
  • You are identified as a vulnerable case, particularly if you are an unaccompanied child or adolescent
  • Your asylum application is among the cases for which the Commission may apply the fast-track procedure. For example, if you come from a safe country of origin; if you are in a repatriation center (CPR); if you ask for asylum when the police stop you and you are irregular.

Possible outcomes

The possible outcomes for the asylum application are:

  • Granting of refugee status, if you fled from persecution on the ground of race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership of a particular social group.
  • Granting of subsidiary protection, if you don’t meet the criteria for refugee status, but you would face a risk of suffering a serious harm if sent back to your country (death penalty, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, or threat to your life because of armed conflict)
  • Granting of special protection, if you don’t meet the criteria for refugee status or subsidiary protection but you would be in risk of persecution, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment if sent back to your country, or a violation of your private and family life.
  • Rejection of the application, if the Commission evaluates that you don’t meet the conditions for getting a form of protection. In specific cases, the Commission may reject your application as manifestly unfounded.
  • Rejection of the application, but the Commission sends your case to the Questura, who may issue a permit for social protection – if there is evidence you are or have been a victim of human trafficking or servitude.

If your asylum claim is rejected, or if you are granted a protection but you think you deserve a higher form of protection, you can appeal the decision of the Commission within 30 days. However, if the Commission rejects your application as manifestly unfounded, you have only 15 days to appeal. You can find the appealing terms in the written decision.

Learn more about: Appealing your asylum decision.

How will the Territorial Commission communicate my results?

If you’re staying in a center, the Commission will notify the decision about your asylum application to your center, and your center's operators will inform you about it.

If you’re living on your own, ask Questura to send the Commission’s decision at your personal address. It’s very important that every time you change your address, you let Questura know so they can always reach you. It is also important that your name is on your building entrance door bell.

The Italian Ministry of the Interior has published a handbook to explain how the asylum procedure works in Italy. You can find it here, in Italian, English, Farsi, Spanish, French, Urdu, Arabic, Amharic, Bangla, Somali, Tigrinya. Note that the information about protezione speciale is not updated.

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