Applicants for statelessness status included in Spanish reception system

15 Jul 2022 / Spain / Statelessness determination and status

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The new Royal Decree 220/2022, adopting the regulation on the national reception system  for international protection (‘sistema de acogida’), was approved on 30 March 2022. It introduces three positive elements in the Spanish system on the protection of applicants for statelessness status:
1) applicants for statelessness status can access the national reception system provided "they lack sufficient financial resources" (Article 3.1)
2) child applicants have guaranteed access to education (Article 19. f)
3) applicants for statelessness status are included in integration and autonomy programmes (Article 21)

This is an important step forward, as previously there was a legal gap in this regard and there was no explicit provision that included stateless applicants in the reception system, although this did not prevent at least some applicants from accessing the system. The new royal decree puts an end to this ambiguity and explicitly grants the right of applicants for statelessness status to access the national reception system.

The reception system has different stages that range from the first 30 days to up to 18 months, and includes services such as social intervention, language classes, psychological and legal assistance, translation and interpretation, and support to employment. This system is currently managed by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration (MISSM), specifically the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

Some obstacles remain that may hinder applicants for statelessness status from enjoying all the services offered by the reception system. Applicants for statelessness status, unlike asylum-seekers, are not entitled to a work permit after six months, therefore they are unable to benefit from the orientation and job search service of the reception system until they receive a favourable decision on their application.

Secondly, some applicants for statelessness status have not been allowed to remain in the national territory, therefore it is unclear how the rights established by Royal Decree 220/2022 can be enjoyed by applicants at the border who present indications that they may be stateless, although the Supreme Court has ruled against this practice.

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