A foreigner who, via his/her application for asylum, is requesting protection from the Belgian authorities, will go through several stages from the submission of the application to the final decision. This is what we refer to as the asylum procedure.
The current procedure came into effect on 1 June 2007. It is efficient, accelerated and simplified.
Four bodies can intervene over the course of the asylum procedure:
- The Immigration Department registers the application for asylum and carries out certain preliminary investigations.
- The Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) examines the content of the application and decides on whether to grant or refuse refugee status or subsidiary protection status.
- With the Council for alien law litigation the asylum seeker can lodge an appeal against an unfavourable decision from the Immigration Department or the CGRS.
- With the Council of State (CS) the asylum seeker can lodge a cassation appeal against an unfavourable decision from the Council for alien law litigation.
The CGRS is the central authority for the asylum procedure. Since 1 June 2007 the CGRS is also the only government agency that has competence for examining asylum applications.
In Belgium, applications for asylum can lead to two types of protection: protection as a refugee and subsidiary protection. The Belgian authorities study whether the asylum seeker fulfils the conditions for one of these types of protection. Protection as a refugee has preference over subsidiary protection. In other words: only if the asylum seeker cannot be recognised as a refugee will the competent authorities study whether he/she can be granted subsidiary protection status.
- If one of these two types of protection is granted, the foreigner is given right of residence in Belgium.
- If protection is refused, the foreigner cannot stay in Belgium and has to return to his/her country of origin.