A stateless person is a person who is not considered by any country a national of that country pursuant to the legislation which is in force on the territory of that country, or a person whose nationality has not been determined. Currently, the Belgian legislation does not provide for a specific procedure for the recognition of the status of stateless person.
At this moment, the CGRS does not have competence for granting that status, but the coalition agreement states that the recognition of the status of stateless person should fall under the competence of the CGRS. At this moment, the recognition of this status can be applied for by filing a unilateral petition with the Court of First Instance of one’s place of residence.
The burden of proof lies with the applicant, i.e. he/she must present documents from the embassy or another diplomatic post of the countries with which he/she has ties, or submit the legislation of those countries on nationality. Countries with which he/she has ties can be the country where he/she was born, where he/she has stayed, of which his/her spouse is a national, etc. Based on these documents, it must be proved that the applicant has never had a nationality or that he/she has lost his/her nationality and has no possibility of getting it back.
The Belgian Aliens Act does not link a right of residence to the recognition of the status of stateless person. The stateless person and his/her relatives do not have a right of temporary residence during the procedure before the Court of First Instance. As soon as he/she is recognised as a stateless person, the foreigner, just like other foreigners in exceptional circumstances, must use the regularisation procedure via the minister in charge of access to the territory, residence, establishment and removal of foreigners.
For now, the role of the CGRS is limited to issuing register office certificates to recognised stateless persons.
The CGRS offers recognised stateless persons administrative assistance which they cannot obtain elsewhere because they do not have a nationality. For instance, the CGRS can issue documents, such as certificates of birth, marriage or death, insofar as the asylum seeker can prove his/her identity. The CGRS can issue the following documents:
- stateless person certificate, on request and presenting the judgment of the Court of First Instance. With this document the recognised stateless person can ask the municipal authorities to regularise him/her;
- the register office certificates which would normally be issued to the foreigner by his/her national authorities, if the stateless person cannot obtain them from the country where the event (birth, marriage) took place because he/she has no nationality.