Law on reform of Belgium's Immigration Act published
Today, March 12, 2018 the Law of 21 November 2017 (adopted in the Parliament on Nov. 9) modifying the Immigration Act was published in the Belgian Official Gazette and will come into force on March 22, 2018.
The reform of the Belgian Immigration Act aims at – inter alia – finalizing the transposition of the European asylum Directives (i.e. Directive on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (Directive 2013/32/EU) and the Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (Directive 2013/33/EU).
The changes introduced by the reform of the asylum law include - inter alia:
- Terminology brought in line with the Asylum Procedures Directive (e.g. “applicant for international protection” instead of “asylum seeker”; “subsequent application” instead of “multiple application”).
- Possibility to consider certain applications for international protection (e.g. first country of asylum, protection in another Member State, safe third country, subsequent asylum application, etc.) as inadmissible, in line with article 33 of the Asylum Procedures Directive. Previously, a decision could already be taken “not to take into consideration” certain types of applications (i.e. protection in another Member State, EU citizen, and subsequent applications), but this was rather an accelerated procedure and not an admissibility procedure.
- Introduction of the concept of safe third country into national legislation (practical guidelines on the implementation of this provision still need to be developed).
- Introduction of a special needs procedure, which aims at identifying the special needs more systematically and as early as possible.
- More emphasis on the duty to cooperate for the applicant and to submit all relevant elements and a possibility for the CGRS to consult and use publicly available information that has been electronically sent or received by the applicant for international protection. There is also the possibility to ask the applicant to provide access to the private part of electronic information carriers. More concrete provisions will be specified by a Royal Decree.
- Simplification and harmonisation of time limits to lodge an appeal with the Council for Aliens Law Litigation (i.e. 30 days in principle, and shorter terms in case it concerns an accelerated procedure or the applicant is in a closed facility).
- Besides a limited number of situations (such as certain subsequent applicants), all appeals at the Council for Alien Law Litigation against decisions of the CGRS will be suspensive and on the merits.
- The possible grounds for detention for applicants for international protection, at the border and on the Belgian territory are now listed and the risk on absconding is now defined in national legislation.
For further information, see the published texts (in French or in Dutch), as well as the presentation given by the Commissioner General on Refugees and Stateless Persons during the EMN Policy Event in December 2017 (available here).