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. 

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.

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.

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 returns asylum seekers to Greece pursuant to the Dublin Procedure. 

In order for UNE to make a decision to reject an application several aspects need to be in place. Greece must accept the responsibility of the asylum seeker in question and guarantee that the asylum seeker will have access to a place at a reception centre, and to the asylum procedure itself.

Vulnerable people, such as unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, will not be returned to Greece. They will have their case assessed in Norway.

UNE is regularly updated on the situation for asylum seekers and migrants in Greece, and assesses each case individually.

Background information on the former decision to suspend returns

Norway stopped the return of asylum seekers to Greece back in 2010 due to the uncertainty of the reception system and the asylum procedures in the country. The decision was based on the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) case of M.S.S versus Belgium and Greece. 

The European Commission (EC) recommended in 2016 its member states to gradually resume returns to Greece. In its recommendation the EC pointed to the fact that the situation in Greece had improved considerably since the above mentioned ECHR case.

The decision to return asylum seekers to Greece is based on updated country information for asylum seekers in Greece, and on the result from several board meetings where the situation in Greece was the topic. UNE is of the opinion that both the reception system for asylum seekers in Greece, and the asylum system itself, have improved sufficiently compared to the situation in 2010 when we suspended the returns to Greece.