In most cases we process, Iranians tell they have been politically active for Kurdish parties or that they have converted to Christianity.
In many cases, appeals are rejected because we do not believe the applicants’ statements about what he or she has experienced in Iran. In other cases, we believe it to be safe for the applicant to return to Iran. In other words, we grant few permits.
What do we consider?
Many of those who apply for protection in Norway have been politically active in Iran. Most of these are Kurds. The majority have been politically active for Kurdish parties in Iran, for example by handing out flyers, taking part in demonstrations or blogging. Others have engaged in political or military activities for Iranian Kurdish parties in Iraq. Some also state that they have fled because of the political activities of members of their family. In most cases, the level of political activity is so low that the Iranian authorities are not particularly interested in them.
Another big group of asylum applicants state that they have converted to Christianity. Some say that they converted in Iran and others that they converted after they came to Norway. Some of the people who converted in Iran were members of a home church. We call it a home church when a private individual or pastor invites people home to take part in Christian activities. Home churches are not approved by the Iranian authorities and leaders and members of home churches can be at particular risk of sanctions. Most people who are arrested risk short periods of detainment, but this is not sufficient to be granted protection in Norway. Very few are granted protection because they have taken part in Christian activities that the Iranian authorities sometimes crack down hard on.
In Norway, many become active in Christian congregations. Some also do missionary work. Most of them have such a low level of activity and visibility that they will not risk sanctions from the Iranian authorities when they return to Iran.
Some Iranians are politically active in Norway, which we often refer to as sur place activity. This involves demonstrations and online activities. Many become more active after coming to Norway.
Some women state that they are fleeing forced marriage or that they have married against their family's wishes. This is most common among Kurds and in rural areas. Some Iranians also apply for protection because they are homosexual.
We rarely grant protection in cases where the UDI has refused an application. When we do grant protection, the grounds for doing so are normally related to political or religious activity in Norway. Some are granted permits on humanitarian grounds, usually because of children’s attachment to Norway.
Everyone who applies for asylum in Norway is obliged to assist in clarifying their identity. Applicants who have a passport must hand this in. Other documents may also be accepted as proof of identity. Applicants who do not have ID documents are obliged to do their best to obtain such documents.
We conclude that an applicant's identity is either substantiated or not substantiated:
Substantiated identity: We believe that it is probable that the applicant is who he says he is. Documents and the applicant's statement can help to substantiate their identity. As a rule, the identity of the applicant must be substantiated before a residence permit can be granted.
Not substantiated: We believe that it is not probable that the applicant is who he says he is. This is the case when the applicant has not helped to establish who he is and where he comes from, by, for example, providing incorrect information. The reason we believe the identity has not been substantiated must always be included in the decision.
Identity documents from Iran are normally reliable, since Iran has a functioning population register. Documents that are submitted can substantiate a person’s identity.
All Iranians in Iran have ID documents. They have birth certificates (shenasnameh) and national ID cards (kart-e melli). Iranians who were born and raised outside Iran may not have Iranian ID documents, but we believe that they may be issued such documents from the authorities. These ID documents can help to substantiate the identity of applicants.
Very few Iranians present a passport. We believe that it is possible to be issued a passport from the Iranian authorities if they can document their Iranian nationality. Iranian passports can document the identity of an applicant.
Cases from Iran are normally very complex and many applicants state that they have several reasons for applying for protection. Many Iranians who have received a final rejection of their applications do not return to Iran. They often request that their case be reconsidered. Some marry and have children, some develop health problems and others engage in political or religious activities that they would like us to take into consideration.
We use many different sources. Much of the information we use has been collected by Landinfo, a unit that prepares reports on topics that are important for the UDI and UNE. Recommendations from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, external link) are also important. We also read reports and news from organisations such as Amnesty International, the UN special rapporteur for Iran (external link), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (external link) and the UK Home Office (external link). We also keep up to date with reports in the media and from other organisations.