Asylum procedure in the case of unaccompanied minors who are asylum seekers is special. Also, in the case of asylum seekers who belong to other vulnerable groups, the asylum procedure has a number of features determined by the vulnerability of these persons and their need to be treated in an appropriate manner.
Unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups of people are asylum seekers from the moment they demonstrate their willingness, expressed in writing or orally before the competent authorities, showing that they demand the protection of the Romanian state. Asylum applications of unaccompanied minors will always be processed in the ordinary procedure. For unaccompanied minors, asylum request is a prerequisite for automatic access to the territory, thereby ensuring access to the asylum procedure. The examination of asylum applications lodged by unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups of people will be carried out as a priority.
If the manifestation of the willingness of an unaccompanied minor to seek asylum is made to other competent authorities receiving the application, the General Inspectorate for Immigration – Asylum and Integration Directorate (IGI-DAI) shall be informed as soon as possible, which will provide the transport of the applicant to the specialized asylum issues structure of IGI, that is competent to examine the application. For the unaccompanied minor a provisional certificate will be issued which will function as a temporary identity document and the minor will be provided transportation to the competent structure of the IGI, where formalities listed in the paragraph above will be conducted.
A personal file will be assembled for each asylum seeker, they will be photographed and fingerprinted (the fingerprinting is not done for minors under 14 years). Also, the asylum seekers will be informed about the rights and obligations they have as well as regarding the asylum procedure.
At the time of submitting the asylum application, asylum seekers will be issued a temporary identity document (for unaccompanied minors this document will be issued after their registration at IGI).
Accommodation of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers who have not attained the age of 16, will be provided in the center of the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection in whose jurisdiction functions the competent structure of the General Inspectorate for Immigration where the asylum application was registered, or in centers belonging to a private authorized body.
In the case of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers who have reached age 16 and who lack material means for maintenance, their accommodation can also be provided in the accommodation centers for asylum seekers subordinated to IGI, until the expiry of the 15 days deadline from the date on which a final ruling rejecting the request of granting a form of protection was handed down.
Unaccompanied minors who received a form of protection in Romania according to the law, based on a final and irrevocable decision, are taken into the system of child protection services, organized at county councils level, respectively at local councils level for the districts of Bucharest.
In case the demand of the unaccompanied minor for the granting a form of protection under the law was rejected by a final ruling, the minors will be taken into custody by the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection, which will take steps prescribed by the law for establishing a protection measure for them and inform the General Inspectorate for Immigration – Migration Directorate about their situation, which shall act according to the law.
Asylum seekers who belong to vulnerable groups have the right to be accommodated in the IGI accommodation centers for asylum seekers, along with their accompanying family members.
For unaccompanied minors, who are asylum seekers, the asylum procedure is suspended until the appointment of a legal representative.
The official registering the unaccompanied minor will immediately request the appointment of a legal representative. The appointment of a legal representative for an unaccompanied minor seeking asylum is not necessary if the minor will reach the age of majority within 15 days of the submission of the application.
The appointment of the legal representative will be made by the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection, within whose territorial administrative structure is found the specialized IGI structure where the asylum application will be submitted. The Directorate will appoint a person with higher legal or social assistance education within its own personnel or from an authorized private body who will support the child’s rights and will participate, along with him / her, to the whole asylum procedure. The document appointing the legal representative will be sent to the competent structure of IGI, respectively to the decision officer, who will annex it to the personal file of the applicant.
Where there are serious doubts about the major asylum seeker’s discernment, the specialized personnel from the IGI will demand a forensic examination in this regard.
If the forensic examination reveals the lack of discernment of the asylum seeker, the decision officer responsible for the case calls for the appointment of a guardian, under the same conditions provisioned by the law for Romanian citizens.
The procedure for handling the asylum application is suspended until the appointment of a guardian. During the suspension of the procedure for granting a form of protection, the applicant shall benefit from the rights recognized to the asylum seekers.
The application of the injudicious asylum seeker is filed by the guardian after their appointment.
When the interview to determine a form of protection is possible, the guardian will inform the asylum seeker about the purpose and possible consequences of the personal interview and will undertake the necessary steps to prepare the applicant for the interview.
Interviewing minor asylum seekers and unaccompanied minor asylum seekers is carried out in all cases where this is possible, depending on their psychological development. In the interview with the minor asylum seeker their degree of intellectual development and maturity must be taken into account.
The interview with unaccompanied minors will be held in the presence of legal representatives. The legal representative shall inform the minor asylum seeker on the purpose and possible consequences of the personal interview and will undertake the necessary steps to prepare the minor for the interview.
In case the demand of the unaccompanied minor for the granting a form of protection in Romania was rejected by a final ruling, the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection will take the steps prescribed by the law for the establishment of a protection measure for the minor, requiring from the court to dispose the placement of the child in a special protection service. Also, it will inform the General Inspectorate for Immigration – Asylum and Integration Directorate on the situation of unaccompanied minor, which shall act according to the law.
The protection measure lasts until the return of the child to the country of residence of his parents or to the country where other family members willing to take the child were identified. The repatriation of unaccompanied minors must be made taking into account the principle of identifying and finding the family and must also respect the non-refoulement principle and the best interest of the child.
In case the asylum application of a person from other vulnerable groups is irrevocably and enforceably rejected, the concerned person is forced to leave Romania within 15 days. When there are reasons preventing the authorities from repatriating them, they may obtain the status of tolerated person for a limited period of time.
Unaccompanied minors who received a form of protection in Romania are taken up into the system of child protection services, organized at county councils level, respectively at local councils level for the districts of Bucharest municipality, and enjoy all the rights provided by law for children in difficulty. Unaccompanied minors may be enrolled in special integration programs.
Also, unaccompanied minors will receive identity documents, personal identification number and are entitled accommodation in centers until age 18.
People from other vulnerable groups, having obtained a form of protection, may, upon request, benefit from accommodation in the IGI accommodation centers for asylum seekers. Also, these people may be entered in the socio-professional integration program, which can be extended indefinitely to overcome the problems they have.