(Greece) – On Wednesday, Greece launched a new method for processing asylum applications. Typically, the process to apply for asylum in Greece could take up to a year for the migrants and refugees who are seeking asylum. The new scheme is expected to greatly streamline the process. In addition to that, the documents that are issued to migrants are set to cover an additional year. This move is in response to the fact that many of the documents that have been issued to the refugees and migrants who are in the camps are set to expire soon.
However, the government is facing a backlog when processing asylum applications, and the meantime, many of these documents have expired. In the past, the documents issued to Syrians were valid for six months, while those issued to other nationalities were only valid for one month. Once the migrants are officially registered, they are required to wear a bracelet that has their name and other details written on it. This bracelet and the documents will give migrants the right to live legally in Greece and also have access to free healthcare. However, they are not allowed to work in Greece just yet – this required a separate approval process.
Once the migrants file their paperwork, they need to wait until they receive word by the SMS. The next step in the process is to attend an interview. Since there is such a large backlog, it could take several months after the paperwork to be filed before the interview will take place.
The new registration process began on Wednesday in two places in Greece – In Elliniko, which is in southern Athens, and in Petrino, which is the port in Thessaloniki. The whole operation is being executed by Greece’s asylum service, which is being overseen by the Citizen’s Protection Ministry. The registration process is being overseen and carried out by the United Nations refugee agency, also called UNHCR, as well as the European Asylum Support Office. There are currently 260 staff members who are divided between both of these sites whose job it is to process the registrations. This is expected to greatly accelerate the application process for the refugees and migrants in Greece.