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Filing for protection in the European Union and in France after fleeing the war in Ukraine
- Updated : 20/03/2022
IMPORTANT : Date of Entry
IT IS ESSENTIAL TO RECEIVE A STAMP IN YOUR PASSPORT WITH THE DATE OF ENTRY IN THE EUROPEAN UNION OR AN OFFICIAL DOCUMENT PROVIDED BY THE FIRST COUNTRY OF ENTRY IF YOU ENTERED WITH AN IDENTITY CARD.
Without it, you may not be legally able to prove with certainty the date of entry being after 24 Febuary 2022. You may not benefit from temporary protection and fall into less favorable protection statuses.
Introduction to important concepts
Most people fleeing the war in Ukraine are not refugees, asylum seekers or Stateless persons
Historically, international law recognizes certain protections and rights to persons forced to flee their country due to war , persecution (“asylum”), and persons not recognized as citizen by any country (“stateless”). It is important to distinguish the concepts of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants. Amnesty International explains the difference :
- “A refugee is a person who has fled their own country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations and persecution there. The risks to their safety and life were so great that they felt they had no choice but to leave and seek safety outside their country because their own government cannot or will not protect them from those dangers. Refugees have a right to international protection.”
- An asylum-seeker is a person who has left their country and is seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations in another country, but who hasn’t yet been legally recognized as a refugee and is waiting to receive a decision on their asylum claim. Seeking asylum is a human right. This means everyone should be allowed to enter another country to seek asylum.
- “There is no internationally accepted legal definition of a migrant. Like most agencies and organizations, we at Amnesty International understand migrants to be people staying outside their country of origin, who are not asylum-seekers or refugees. Some migrants leave their country because they want to work, study or join family, for example. Others feel they must leave because of poverty, political unrest, gang violence, natural disasters or other serious circumstances that exist there.”
Europe and the European Union
It is important to distinguish the European Union and Europe.
Europe is boarder zone including non-EU members such as Ukraine, Moldova, the United Kingdom, as well as countries of the European Economic Area (Switzerland, Norway). Non-EU members are not obliged to apply the EU directive. But some have decided to offer similar protection, such as the "Protection S" in Switzerland .
What is the Schengen Area ?
The "Schengen Area" in an area comprising 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual border. Once in the Schengen area, you are free to move temporarily to another Schengen country. Be aware that certain rules apply for permanent relocation and transborder work. Those matters are complex.
Summary of the EU protection status
Ukranians and permanent residents in Ukraine benefit from a temporary protection in the European Union. Others who were in Ukraine may leave for Europe but will enjoy limited protection. Under the European Union temporary protection, you benefit from certain rights on a temporary basis (e.g. healthcare, food, clothes, right to work, education for children, social benefits, etc). It is not likely you will be able to apply in several countries. It is better NOT to register in a country if you do not intend to stay. People fleeing the war in Ukraine temporarily benefit from free trains in most European countries.
Summary of the temporary protection status in France
France applies the 2001 EU directive on temporary protection status for ukranians. Conditions for obtaining temporary protection in France:
- Case 1: You are a Ukrainian national and you were residing in Ukraine before 24 February 2022;
- Case 2: You are not a Ukrainian national and you benefit from protection (international or equivalent national) granted by the Ukrainian authorities;
- Case 3: You are not a Ukrainian national, you hold a valid permanent residence permit issued by the Ukrainian authorities and you are not able to return to your country of origin in a safe and sustainable manner;
- Case 4: You are a family member of a person falling under one of the previous cases (family members are: spouse, unmarried minor children and dependent relatives).
Go to the prefecture of the department where you live or are staying: * with the documents in your possession justifying your situation; * accompanied by your family members (spouse and children).
More details on the EU protection status in France and how to file