Beneficiaries of international protection travelling to the country of origin (EMN)
EMN Belgium presents its national report on "Beneficiaries of international protection travelling to the country of origin: challenges, policies and practices in Belgium". This is the Belgian contribution to a forthcoming comparative EMN study on the topic, which will give an overview of policies and practices in 24 EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland. EMN Belgium took the initiative in 2018 to execute this comparative study.
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 comparative report
A forthcoming comparative EMN report (expected publication in September 2019) will give an overview of policies and practices in 24 EU Member States, Norway and Switserland.