We consider whether another European country should consider asylum applications from persons who are registered or have been granted a visa in another country than Norway
UNE rarely reverses the UDI’s decisions. In most cases, we believe that another European country is responsible for the asylum application, and the applicant is returned there.
What do we consider?
A Dublin case is when Norway asks another European country to consider an asylum application. The reason why it is called a ‘Dublin case’ is that these cases are decided on the basis of a joint European regulation called the Dublin Regulation. This regulation was signed in Dublin in 1990 and entered into force in 1997.
When a person applies for protection in Norway, the police always take his/her fingerprints. The police check the fingerprints against a joint European register called Eurodac. There, the police can see whether the person has applied for asylum in another European country or travelled into the Schengen area illegally. The police also check whether the person has been granted a visa to another European country. If the searches in one of these registers return any hits, Norway will normally ask the other European country to accept this person and consider the asylum application there.
When we consider a Dublin case, we do not consider whether the person is actually entitled to protection. We only look at whether another European country should consider the application. This means that we do not consider the application on its merits.
Although we do not consider protection, we consider whether other circumstances indicate that the person should nevertheless not be sent to the other European country. Examples of such circumstances include the situation in the other European country, the applicant’s connection to Norway and the applicant's health situation.
Many applicants say that there are poor conditions for asylum seekers in the European country they are to be sent back to. We keep up-to-date on the reception conditions and how the asylum system works in other European countries that participate in the cooperation under the Dublin Regulation. The rules state that exceptional circumstances are required for it to be irresponsible to return someone to one of the other countries. Greece is an example of a country that Norway has not returned any asylum seekers to since 2011. This is because the Norwegian authorities have been uncertain about whether the reception conditions and asylum system are good enough. The reason why we have suspended all returns to Greece was a judgment pronounced by the European Court of Human Rights (M.S.S. versus Belgium and Greece).
Many applicants state that they have health problems and that Norway must therefore consider their case. We very rarely make exceptions in these cases. The reason is that we think the health services in other European countries are both satisfactory and available to the applicant.
Sometimes when we ask another country to accept an applicant, we do not get a response. Even if the country does not respond, the rules nevertheless state that the country is responsible for the applicant. This means that also in these cases, UNE will ask the applicant to contact the authorities in the other European country regarding his/her asylum application.
Some applicants have family members with lawful residence in Norway and they therefore want Norway to consider their asylum application. Such requests can be granted for close family members, but there are very strict rules for who is considered close family members pursuant to the Dublin Regulation. Therefore, many applicants cannot have their asylum application considered in Norway.
Sometimes, the applicant wants to be reunited with family members living in Norway. In such cases, we normally refer to the rules for family immigration, which apply in such cases. The main rule is that the applicant must return to his/her home country to apply for a family immigration permit from there.
Following a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights in 2014 (the Tarakhel judgment), UNE stopped returning families with children to Italy. We clarified our practice for such cases in spring 2016, when we studied new information concerning the situation for families with children in Italy. After this, we changed our practice, and all families with children are now usually sent to Italy.
UNE considers quite a few applications from people who have already been granted residence or asylum in another country. These cases are not covered by the Dublin Regulation, but are normally processed in the same way as a Dublin case. This means that UNE will usually refer the applicant to the country in which he/she has been granted residence or asylum.