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International protection and asylum seeking in Spain

Who can apply for international protection in Spain? Click to unfold the content

Anyone who has fled their country of origin or habitual residence, or who, while abroad, is unable to return for non-economic reasons, may apply for international protection. International protection can be recognised through refugee status or subsidiary protection.

Regulatory Act 12/2009 on the Right of Asylum and Subsidiary Protection in Spain can be found at:

  • Refugee Status is granted to any person who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted in his or her country for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, membership of a particular social group, gender or sexual orientation.
  • Subsidiary protection is granted to persons who cannot return to their country of origin because they would face a real risk of suffering serious harm, such as the death penalty or execution, torture or inhuman and degrading treatment, or serious threats to their life or integrity as a result of indiscriminate violence arising from situations of internal or international conflict.
  • The possibility of granting a residence permit on humanitarian grounds is foreseen when: the applicant suffers from a serious illness requiring specialised health care that is not accessible in the country of origin, or when the transfer to the country of origin implies a danger for the safety of the applicant or his/her family.

Where can I submit my application for asylum? Click to unfold the content

To apply for asylum in Barcelona, you must make an appointment through this link with the Asylum and Refuge Office, located at Passeig de Sant Joan, 189. Metro L4 Joanic (yellow line).

Likewise, asylum can also be requested at border entry points, ports, airports and in alien internment centres (CIE).

Can I claim asylum from abroad? Click to unfold the content

The Spanish Asylum Act provides for the possibility that Spanish ambassadors abroad may promote the transfer of an applicant for international protection who has gone to the diplomatic representation alleging a danger to his or her physical integrity, as long as he or she is not a national of the country where he or she is.

What are the procedural steps for claiming asylum? Click to unfold the content

Phase 1. Acceptance for processing. Within one month, the ARO will inform the person if his or her application has not been accepted. If the applicant has not been contacted during this month, the application will be considered to have been accepted for processing.

If you have submitted your application at a border crossing point, the authorities have up to four days to decide whether to accept it for processing.

Phase 2. Investigation. The ARO will examine your successful application in depth.

Phase 3. Resolution. Once the application has been studied, you will be informed of its resolution.

Remember that the EU Member State of first arrival is responsible for processing international protection. Therefore, if you have entered the EU via Spain, you will have to apply in Spain.

Is the process confidential? Click to unfold the content

Yes. Everyone who talks to you (civil servants, police, interpreters, lawyers, etc.) is obliged to keep your details and everything you say confidential.

It is important to know that your application will never be communicated to the government of your home country or country of origin.

Can I receive help from a lawyer or interpreter? Click to unfold the content

Yes. Applicants for international protection are entitled both to free legal assistance and to be provided with an interpreter.

Barcelona City Council has a Care Service for Immigrants, Emigrants and Refugees (SAIER in Spanish), where you can get advice on how to apply. You can request an appointment at the service through this link.

What does the application for international protection entitle me to? Click to unfold the content

Being an applicant for international protection gives you the right to stay in Spain while your application is being processed. Any process of refoulement and expulsion from the country is suspended. You also have the right to receive legal assistance and health care, to access the state reception programme and to be documented as an applicant for international protection.

What documents will I obtain? Click to unfold the content

The first document you will have is the Expression of Willingness to Apply for International Protection. This paper already states the day on which the interview will take place (formalising the application) and the place, the identity details of the person concerned, his/her photograph and the documents that he/she will have to present at the interview.

Once the interview has been completed, proof of submission for international protection will be handed over. It is a document that identifies you as an applicant for international protection and has a duration of one month, which can be extended for a further eight months. This is a provisional document pending consideration of the application submitted. Six months after the application, this document grants a permit to work.

After nine months, you will have to renew it and you will be issued with a red card. This document identifies you as an applicant for international protection and allows you to stay and work in state territory for six months. It is a provisional document pending consideration of the application submitted.

Applicants for status of stateless persons have a green document with photo and an identity number for foreign nationals (NIE), but are not authorised to work.

What social benefits will I receive? Click to unfold the content

The Spanish Government has a social care programme for applicants for international protection who do not have the financial resources to cover their basic needs.

To be eligible for the programme, you must have initiated your application for international protection within the first six months of your arrival on EU territory.

To access the programme, as long as you live in the province of Barcelona, you can request an appointment with the SAIER through this link, where they will inform you about the process.

You should bear in mind that this is a state reception system, with places throughout Spain, and it is the Spanish government that will assign you your place, regardless of where you have initiated the procedure for applying for international protection. 

Who takes the decision on my case and when? Click to unfold the content

The Spanish Government is the sole competent authority on asylum and refugee matters. It will be decided by the Spanish Ministry of Interior, on the proposal of the Interministerial Asylum and Refugee Committee (CIAR in Spanish).

What is subsidiary protection? Click to unfold the content

Subsidiary protection is granted to individuals who are unable to return to their country of origin as they would face a real risk of suffering serious harm, such as the death penalty or execution, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or serious threats to life and limb, owing to a situation of indiscriminate violence caused by circumstances of internal or international conflict.

Am I entitled to the family extension? Click to unfold the content

Yes, as long as your decision has been favourable (refugee status or subsidiary protection). Persons eligible for the family extension can be: the spouse or partner, first-degree ascendants who can prove dependency and first-degree descendants who are minors. Other family members provided that dependency and previous cohabitation in the country of origin or provenance is sufficiently established.

If I am provided with international protection, do I also get nationality? Click to unfold the content

No, but if you qualify for refugee status, the time limits are reduced and you can apply for refugee status in five years.

What happens if my request for international protection is rejected? Click to unfold the content

In that case, you can appeal the refusal to the competent court. If you live in Barcelona, you can go to the SAIER at Calle Tarragona 141, so that they can inform you of your options and arrange an appointment with a lawyer.