The current procedure came into force on 1st June 2007.
Submission of an asylum application
This application is generally submitted at the Immigration Office in Brussels. However, an asylum application may also be made at the border (for example at the airport), within a closed centre or a penal institution.
The Immigration Office registers the asylum application and investigates whether Belgium is responsible for processing the asylum application (Dublin examination). If another Member State is responsible, Belgium can transfer the asylum seeker to this Member State. If this is not the first asylum application, the Office looks at whether the foreigner is providing any new and relevant elements to support the new application (examination of multiple applications). At this stage, the asylum seeker only makes a short statement and completes a standard questionnaire.
Review and decision
The asylum application itself is reviewed by the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS). During an interview with a CGRS employee, the asylum seeker is given the opportunity to tell his story and specify the reasons for his application. Then, the CGRS examines the credibility and truthfulness of the asylum seeker's statements and allow the asylum seeker to be granted the refugee status or subsidiary protection.
Since 2006, in addition to the status of refugee, there is has also been the status of 'subsidiary protection'. This status may be granted to asylum seekers who do not meet the criteria for recognition of their status as refugee, but who, nevertheless, are in a situation which means that a return to their home country represents a real danger for them.
The CGRS can then grant or refuse refugee status or subsidiary protection. While this investigation is ongoing, the asylum seeker receives a temporary resident's permit.
If asylum seekers do not agree with the CGRS' decision, they can lodge an appeal with the Council for Alien Disputes (CAD). This institution may confirm the CGRS' decision (the decision remains unchanged), amend it (the decision is changed) or cancel it (the CGRS must conduct a new investigation).
After the procedure
With the final decision made by the CAD, the asylum procedure ends. As for any other administrative procedure, there is however the possibility of lodging an appeal with the Council of State. This screens applications in order to check whether the reasons for the appeal are valid.
After the asylum procedure, asylum seekers are granted protection under the status of refugee or subsidiary protection, or turned down. When the asylum application has been definitively refused, the failed asylum seeker receives an order to leave the territory.
More detailed information on the asylum procedure is available on the CGRS website: www.cgrs.be.