Seimas revises asylum application procedures in response to the influx of irregular migrants
The MFA informs about adoption by the Seimas of the amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of Aliens and the accompanying legislation (Draft No XIVP-719(2)), thereby providing for faster processing of asylum applications and restricting some of the rights of asylum seekers in cases where the state is not in a position to guarantee their rights due to a state of war or state of emergency, as well as emergency or an emergency event due to the mass influx of foreigners.
Lithuania experiences an unprecedented influx of irregular migrants, which has increased 23-fold compared to 2020. Lithuania considers it as targeted acts of hybrid aggression driven by undemocratic regimes against Lithuania.
The amended Law stipulates that asylum seekers may be detained or their right to leave the place of accommodation may be restricted if they enter the territory of the Republic of Lithuania illegally and cross the state border of the Republic of Lithuania during a state of war or state of emergency, as well as during emergency or an emergency event declared due to a mass influx of foreigners.
The introduction of a state of war or state of emergency, as well as emergency or an emergency event caused by a mass influx of foreigners may result in a temporary and proportionate restriction of the rights of asylum seekers if they cannot be guaranteed for objective and justified reasons, with the exception of the right to material reception conditions, provision of essential medical assistance and state-guaranteed legal assistance. Vulnerable persons will be guaranteed the right to access the reception conditions appropriate to their needs. Should the reasons for this no longer exist, the asylum seeker rights will have to be guaranteed for vulnerable persons as a matter of priority.
In the event of large flows of asylum seekers and with a view to examining asylum applications as quickly as possible, asylum applications of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum and asylum seekers who have been subjected to torture, rape or other serious psychological, physical or sexual violence, may be dealt with as a matter of urgency following the declaration of a state of war or state of emergency, as well as emergency or an emergency event due to a mass influx of foreigners.
Currently, the Law provides for a maximum period of 28 days, during which asylum seekers may be refused entry into the Republic of Lithuania. In view of the increasing irregular migration flows, the 28-day deadline may be extended for the duration of a state of war or state of emergency, as well as emergency or an emergency event due to a mass influx of foreigners and for 28 days following their termination but not longer than for 6 months.
In order to speed up final decisions on asylum applications and reduce the burden on courts, a mandatory pre-trial procedure for appeals against negative decisions will be introduced at the Migration Department. Only following this procedure that the decision of the Migration Department may be appealed against before the Regional Administrative Court, whose decision will be final and not subject to appeal. During the entire asylum application period, as well as during the appeal, legal aid will have to be guaranteed to the foreigner.