Beneficiaries of international protection travelling to the country of origin (EMN)
This study aims to analyse the possible consequences on international protection status for individuals who travel to or contact the authorities in their country of origin.
Beneficiaries of international protection risk losing their status when travelling to their country of origin. Travels to the country of origin may indicate that the reasons for granting a protection status no longer apply or never existed.
In recent years, the issue was put forward as a political priority in Belgium, and through the European Migration Network, an EU comparative study on the issue was launched on the issue.
The Belgian national report shows that travels to the country of origin will not automatically lead to an end of the international protection status, but it can and often will be a reason for the Immigration Office to request the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) to (re)asses the need for international protection. The CGRS can also decide on its own initiative (ex officio) to reconsider the need for international protection.
In case a final decision to end status is taken, the Immigration Office can consider to end the residence rights of a former beneficiary of international protection status.
In the three years between 2016 and 2018, the Immigration Office requested the CGRS for 408 individuals to end the international protection status based on information of travels to the country of origin or contacts with the authorities of the country of origin (Source of data: Immigration Office).
By the end of 2018, out of these 408:
- 168 received a first instance decision (CGRS) to end the international protection status, and 114 decisions had become final (after an appeal or because the time to appeal passed). This mainly concerned Afghans and Iraqi citizens.
- 115 maintained status following a decision of the CGRS,
- 123 cases were still pending in first instance (CGRS),
- in 2 cases the Immigration Office annulled its request (for example because the beneficiary acquired Belgian nationality in the meantime).
EU synthesis report
The comparative EU synthesis report gives an overview of policies and practices in 24 EU Member States (including Belgium), Norway and Switserland. Some key findings:
The scale of beneficiaries travelling to their country of origin remains difficult to estimate, but where data is available, the numbers overall seem low.
- Most States face challenges in assessing the travel to the country of origin and its impact on the international protection status due to the complexity in obtaining evidence of this travel and in verifying the reasons for such travels.
- There are numerous reasons why BIPs travel to their country of origin. The most commonly invoked motives for travel related to visiting family members, illness of close family members, and attending weddings or funerals.
The short video below highlights some of the key findings of the EU synthesis report.