Application process for Asylum in Italy
*Refer to Glossary of Terms
Rights abuses and significant delays in the legal procedures of applying for asylum are common. Below is information on the official procedure for claiming asylum. This process outlined here is as Italian law explains, and thus what the application process should be.
Almost always, each individual’s application process differs from the official procedure.
If your rights as an asylum seekers are clearly violated, you are advised to seek legal help to defend your rights. In this case, please refer to our information on where to find legal help.
If your life is at risk in your country of origin due to war, persecution, or if you are at risk of being tortured (or have been tortured, threatened, or abused), you can apply for international protection or asylum. Economic necessity is not currently considered a legal condition to seek asylum/international protection.
Being granted asylum means you are provided with documentation that establishes your legal authorization to stay in Italy for an indefinite period of time. Obtaining asylum requires an extensive legal procedure in which you must submit evidence of the condition(s) listed above.
The Italian Government establishes the title of a “Safe Countries of Origin,” confirmed by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Home Office Minister and Minister of Justice in a decree. These countries are said to be evaluated on legal systems, law enforcement, human rights violations, justice for victims of human rights violations, general political situation; acts of persecution, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and indiscriminate violence (in the context of internal or international armed conflict). “Safety” can be established even with the exception of a portion of the territory or a particular group of people.
In short: A person coming from a determined “Safe Country” will not be considered as in danger as those coming from other countries. They are subjected to a quicker procedure, and, for this reason, will have a higher burden of proof because they must prove not only the persecution, but also that their country is, in practice, not safe. An asylum request may be rejected solely due to reasoning of a “Safe Country.”
The following information includes:
Where to start
View Your Rights Granted under
Refugee Status, Subsidiary Protection, & Humanitarian Protection:
1. Where to Start
An asylum claim can be made with the Border Police upon arrival or at the Immigration Office of the Police (Questura) if you have not already done so.
You may express your wish to seek international protection orally or in writing in your own language with the help of a mediator.
If you expressed your wish to apply for international protection with border police authorities, you should approach your closest Questura within 8 working days of arriving. After 8 days, you will be considered on Italian territory illegally and at risk of arrest or deportation.
To find the closest Questura near you, follow this link: http://questure.poliziadistato.it/.
2. Asylum Application
The procedure for the initial registration of the asylum application is the same whether you do it at the border or at the Questura.
To apply for asylum, follow the steps below:
FIRST: Identification and registration
This process (in Italian: fotosegnalamento) entails fingerprinting and photographing at the border police or at the Questura. Identification by the police is necessary before you can submit an asylum request. Afterward, you can proceed to your application or be given an appointment to make your application and complete the C3 form at the closest local police station (Questura).
After first reception center, everyone is given no more than 30 days to verify the identity/nationality
In the case of Prior Expulsion, in the repatriation center, you are given no more than 180 days to verify identity/nationality
SECOND: Reception Center & ACCOMMODATION
Once you have been identified, you will be taken to a reception center (closed centres or tents) where you will stay for a period of time. You are not given a choice of reception centers; rather, you will be placed according to current availability.
Due to large numbers of arrivals,
the period spent in reception centers is currently up to 2 months.
Following your stay at the reception center, you will be given a place in a facility where you can stay while your application is processed. It is not possible to choose the center you are sent to.
If you leave the reception center without any justification or escape from detention without having been interviewed, the Commission suspends the examination of the application on the basis that you are not reachable (irreperibile). The examination of the asylum application is also suspended if the asylum seeker is imprisoned.
THIRD: Records & Documentation
Before filing the Modello C3, you will be requested to provide a written paper regarding your personal story.
*You can write this document in your mother-tongue.
If you have your national passport with you, you will be expected to give it to the Questura. The Questura will keep your passport until the end of the asylum procedure. In case you have other documents related to your story (i.e. identity card, party cards, medical reports certifying the violences undergone, university cards) you must provide the police with copies and present the originals at the interview with the Territorial Commission (Commissione Territoriale per il riconoscimento della protezione internazionale). These documents may be important in demonstrating what happened in your country of origin.
Keep a copy of the C3 form & all other documents that you provided to the police authorities.
FOURTH: File C3 Form
The procedure by which you fill in the C3 form is called Verbalizzazione. After the appointment, you should be given a Cedolino, a strip of paper where your next appointments at the Questura are noted. This paper acts as a temporary permit of stay until a decision has been made for your application. It is valid for 6 months and renewable.
You can request protection at any point in time after your arrival in Italy -
there is no deadline stipulated by law.
However, it is highly advisable to make the application as soon as possible,
because it may take several months for the Territorial Commission to make a decision.
You can request the assistance of an interpreter or a cultural mediator.
Your request will be sent to the Territorial Commission to evaluate your case. The Territory Commission’s evaluation is based on information and documentation within the request and a personal interview. Under certain circumstances, the Commission can skip the interview if the decision can be made based on documentation attached to the request.
The average processing time in the period 2014-2016 was 260 days from the lodging of the application until a decision was made by authorities.
3. The Interview
By law, the Territorial Commission (Commissione) has to interview the applicant within 30 days of receiving the application; after receiving the application, the Territorial Commission should decide within 3 business days.
In cases when the Territorial Commission cannot make a decision before this deadline, the examination procedure is concluded within six months of receiving the application. In special circumstances, the Commission may extend the time limit for no longer than nine months.
By law, you must have a personal interview that is not public.
The interview will be assisted by an interpreter of your language.
During the interview, the Commissione will ask you personal questions about your relatives, your journey to Italy, your documents, your reason(s) for leaving your country of origin, and your reason(s) for not returning. You can disclose all elements supporting your asylum request during this interview.
Below are common interview questions. Be sure to prepare for your interview. Write down your answers to maintain consistency and practice your interview beforehand. You will be judged on the consistency, accuracy, and clarity of your answers to these questions.
What is your name and where are you from?
How was your journey to Italy?
How did you get here?
Which countries did you come through?
What was the first Italian town or city you arrived in?
Why did you leave your country?
Why can’t you go back to your country?
For the interview:
City of birth
City of residence
Years of schooling and education
Family: Parents, husband/wife, children
Explain why you fled, give details about any and all the violence that was experienced, any/all the difficulties (prison, torture, violence, abuse, rape, mutilation, female genital mutilation or similar, threats, constraints in choosing a husband and/or wife, religion, etc.), and explain the circumstances of any/all family members that may have experienced these difficulties.
Explain these problems regardless of threats, violence, or persecution that may occur, or that has occured to you or your family members in your home country. The interviewer is not associated with the people that threaten you/your family in your home country or any country you’ve been through.
Specify why you cannot return: The risks, laws and/or practices in your country that violate your rights, freedom, and safety. Explain why family, friends, or police cannot ensure your safety. Specify if you are in contact with anyone in your home country and why.
Explain your journey: the countries you passed through, means of transportation, payments, imprisonment, torture, and threats that you suffered in countries you travelled through, traffickers and payment for crossing.
Be prepared to explain the details of the difficulties that happened to you in your home country or during your journey to Italy (such as prison, torture, violence…).
While it may prove challenging, remember that the purpose of the questions you will be asked is to determine that you truly need asylum.
The more you can share, the better, so that immigration officials understand the dangers facing you in your homeland.
important things to remember:
Documentation: Document the reasons why you cannot return in as many ways as you can-these are all evidence to support your claim and will strengthen your application.
Keep any document, letter, report, certificate that can support your reason(s) for needing asylum, any document that explains your membership of a group, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.,and any document that shows why your life and/or your freedom is in danger.
You can produce some documents while in Italy: Photographs of signs of torture or injury, medical certificates, medical reports showing that scars and injuries are related to the story you told (please refer to our medical aid section for organizations that provide these certificates). You may obtain a proof of your religion by a priest or an imam (if you are Christian or Muslim).
If possible, have a friend or family member who is still in your country of origin send an original letter to you stating the reasons why you cannot go back. Keep a copy of this letter. Any document attached to the letter should have your full name and reason(s) why you cannot return to your country. Email and Facebook can also be used asf evidence.
Details: Names, locations, dates, and other details should be written down and remembered; these details will be most supportive when they are consistent.
Provide precise names of town/villages and other locations (such as names of squares, churches, mosques, mountains, rivers, highways).
If you are a member of a political party or group, disclose the names of the leaders, the colors of the coat of arms, etc.
If being persecuted due to sexuality, provide when and how you were persecuted; and state the names of organizations that helped you in your country of origin.
If being persecuted due to religion, give the name of an imam, bishop or head of this religion.
When mentioning specific events (such as massacres, conflicts, crashes, etc.) give exact dates, time of day, and locations.
Consistency: Keeping your story consistent is crucial.
Write down your answers and your story to help to keep it consistent each time you state it. In the moment, it is easy to get details confused or forget to mention an event, and it is crucial that you story and the details are the same each time. Write down details and review your notes before any new interview.
There will be denial of refugee status if you have been sentenced for:
Violence against a public officer
Serious physical and psychological harm
Performing female genital mutilation
Serious physical and psychological harm to a public officer during a sporting event
Production, trafficking and possession of high quantity of drugs
Criminal association directed to drug trafficking
4. The Decision
After your interview, the Commissione may decide one of the following:
Recognize refugee status
Recognize subsidiary protection
Recognize humanitarian protection
Not recognizing any form of protection and providing you with an order to leave Italy. In such a case, together with the decision of the Commissione you will receive a paper (called “foglio di via”) informing you that you have to leave Italy within fifteen days.
In the majority of cases, lodging an appeal automatically suspends the order to leave Italy, which means that while the appeal proceeds you are allowed to live in the country.
It is important that you notify any change of address of residency to the Questura that is taking care of your application as your address will be used for any communication regarding the status of your application. If you reside in a CARA or a CIE, the information will be communicated to the center.
If your application is rejected, you can appeal against the Territorial Commission’s decision within 30 days from the date the decision was communicated. If you are living in an asylum seeker reception center (CARA), you are entitled to lodge an appeal with the court within 15 days from the date upon which the decision was communicated (not 30). In order to lodge an appeal you need the assistance of a lawyer. If you cannot afford the legal expenses, you have the right to require the “gratuito patrocinio,” meaning that the expenses for your lawyer will be paid by the State.
The decision must be taken within 6 months from the filing of the appeal.
If you have been kept in a CIE, if you have left a CARA without justified reason,
if your request has been declared non-admissible,
or if you have been arrested for trying to escape border controls,
you will have to present a specific request to the judge to be allowed to stay in the country while your appeal is processed.
View Your Rights Granted under Refugee Status, Subsidiary Protection, & Humanitarian Protection: