If you flee Ukraine and come to the European Union, in the following sections we will offer key information about your rights to enter a European Union country, how to apply for temporary protection, and the procedure to do so in Spain.
2. Entry to a member country of the European Union
If possible, it is preferable to have valid travel documents before leaving your country. However, not having these travel or medical documents (vaccination certificate or COVID-19 test) will not be an obstacle to entering the European Union.
As stated on the website of the European Commission:
The countries of the European Union bordering Ukraine are letting in all people fleeing the war in that country for humanitarian reasons, regardless of whether they have an electronic passport or not. This also applies to children. If you have Ukrainian nationality and an electronic passport, you can enter the Union by presenting your documentation at the border. In all other cases, the Member States will admit you on humanitarian grounds.
If you have another nationality and you are required to have a visa to enter the European Union, you must present your short-stay visa (if you have one). Even if you don’t have it, Member States must allow you entry to facilitate your repatriation to your country of origin.
Given the current situation in Ukraine, Member States can carry out border controls at the borders, but they can also do so at any other safe place. Controls can be carried out during transportation to that safe place or afterward. You may be required to remain at the disposal of the authorities in that safe place while they carry out the checks.
Regardless of your nationality, you have the right to immediate assistance and information about your rights. For example, you have the right to temporary accommodation and cover-up of your basic needs such as food and medicine. Other rights may vary depending on the status you receive in the European Union.
Police controls and other administrative controls for security and migration purposes may be carried out at any time, including within the Member States. It is important that you cooperate and provide the necessary documents and information to the police, border guards, or any other competent authority. In certain circumstances, you may be required to remain at disposal of the authorities at designated facilities while checks are carried out.
3. Requirements and characteristics to become a refugee
To become a refugee and, therefore, have the temporary protection that will be discussed later, the individual must be in a conflict situation, where they flee out of fear, in the case of Ukraine, it is fear of their physical integrity, and they must cross the international border. The concept of refuge is accompanied by three key concepts: persecution, reasons for persecution, and persecutor, if any of these three cases occur, the person will be considered a refugee, since the authorities of his/her country cannot protect him/her.
4. Temporary Protection Regime and Asylum Law
There is a temporary protection regime that will protect Ukrainian refugees for a limited time.
Temporary protection or TPS is a designation that is granted to citizens of certain countries that present conditions that make it dangerous for those people to return to their place of origin. Those conditions can be:
- An ongoing armed conflict
- Natural disaster or epidemic
- Other extraordinary conditions of a temporary nature
4.1. Who can apply for the temporary protection?
If you were living in Ukraine and left the country to escape the war. From February 24, 2022, you can apply for temporary protection in any country in the European Union.
- Ukrainians, as well as members of their families displaced by the conflict. Stateless persons and nationals of other third countries who have benefited from international protection or equivalent protection in Ukraine, as well as members of their families.
- Nationals of third countries other than Ukraine and stateless persons who can prove that they were legally residing in Ukraine based on a valid permanent residence permit and those who are unable to return in safe and lasting conditions to their country of origin are eligible for the Temporary protection of the European Union or adequate national protection, depending on the country of the European Union in which they are located.
- Also, if you left your country before February 24 due to moments of tension in the country or if you were in a territory of the European Union for work reasons, vacation, or other reasons, you can opt for this protection, since it is understood that your country it’s no longer safe and you can’t go back.
4.2. Rights that grant Temporary Protection
These individuals have rights and obligations within the EU. It is important to distinguish between the people who have already consolidated their rights because the resolution has been favorable and those who have requested that right.
A. Rights of people who have already consolidated their rights because the resolution has been favorable
- To be documented
- Health care and assistance (art 16)
- Have free legal assistance (art 21)
- To communicate your request to UNHCR
- Rights of residence
- Access to housing
- Social care
- Legal guardianship of unaccompanied children and teenagers and their safe reception
- The suspension of any return procedure
- Know the status of your file
- Receive social benefits
- Access to education for children and teenagers
- Right to work authorization. This authorization is temporary because it will not be consolidated until the protection or asylum resolution is favorable. This is subject to the labor market policies of the countries of the Union
B. Rights and Obligations of applicants:
- Free health and legal assistance throughout the application and the processing of the procedure. The legal one will only be mandatory under article 21 which refers to the requests presented at the border controls.
- Obligations to cooperate with authorities, provide fingerprints, inform about your address, and appear before the authorities when required in everything related to your request
Effects of favorable concession: non-refoulment, access to information on the content of the protection, permanent residence and work authorization that is not the same as being documented, issuance of identity and travel documents, access to education, public employment services, housing, social assistance, social services and freedom of movement, access to integration programs and maintenance of the family unit.
It is important to distinguish that permanent residence is different from being documented.
4.3. Duration of the Temporary Protection
The temporary protection will last until March 4, 2023. Despite being temporary, it will be automatically extended twice for six months (one year) until March 4, 2024. This date can be extended by the Council one more year at the proposal of the Commission, if the reasons that justify the temporary protection persist over time.
5. Procedure to request the Temporary Protection
The procedure begins with the presentation of an application through personal appearance and without delay within 1 month from the entry into Spanish territory or from the occurrence of the events that justify that well-founded fear, mention is made that the system is overwhelmed and sometimes, you can’t meet that deadline, because appointments can be hard to get.
There are two procedures: Ordinary and Urgent (art. 25)
- The urgent procedure can be given in justified and well-founded cases in which the applicants have specific needs, as is the case of unaccompanied minors (children), people with disabilities, the elderly, and pregnant women.
a) The request is personal and face-to-face, it can be made at provincial police stations and institutions (brigades) for foreigners
b) Through prior appointments and phone calls
c) There are no interviews in general terms, although some may be required
d) They must come with all the personal documentation they have
- Personal documents: passport or even the Ukraine ID to be able to generate the NIE that will be required in the following steps
- They will be photographed, they will not be required to take a photo
- They will take your fingerprints
- May be denied in cases of serious criminal record and it will be processed within 24 hours and that person will become documented
e)Then, you must apply for the Foreign Identification Card (TIE)
f) The request is personal and individual, that is, an appointment must be requested for each member of the family unit.
- If a minor is not accompanied by a family member, the accompanying adult will be responsible for the minor and, therefore, both will have their fingerprints taken.
- Being registered is not a requirement, although applicants must provide an address for notification purposes, which may change in the future, it should not be the definitive one. However, it is necessary to be able to notify the final resolution.
- They will be asked for a phone number and e-mail
- Free circulation within the national territory (Spain) will be allowed, although it will be controlled.
6. Temporary Protection and International Protection
Temporary protection is compatible with international protection (asylum). Therefore, it is recommendable to request both. The right to temporary protection is complementary to the request for international protection.
- Temporary protection is limited in time. Although it can be extended for a year or even two, it is unknown in the long term. Advantages: fast, immediate, offers the opportunity for education, work, access to aid, it is urgent, etc. The drawback is that it is limited (temporary).
- It is recommendable to apply for international protection in conjunction with temporary, both for humanitarian reasons. This is appliable for example, in cases where a sick person can return to Ukraine, but they do not have the infrastructure or medicine to treat them due to the damage caused by the war. It is also the case for families who no longer have anything in Ukraine and have spent two years in Spain rebuilding their lives. The advantage is that it is indefinite, with renewal every five years. It is crucial to justify yourself on humanitarian grounds to be able to access it.