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09 May. 2024

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International protection vs. temporary protection: what is the difference and how to get it?

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International protection vs. temporary protection: what is the difference and how to get it?

International protection guarantees a foreigner protection from expulsion, refoulement, extradition or deportation to the country of origin and has no time limit. However, obtaining this status involves a number of nuances. Here is a detailed explanation of the difference between temporary and international protection, how to obtain it, and what to consider when applying for it

Legal assistance on migration issues for Ukrainians in Ukraine and abroad
Legal assistance on migration issues for Ukrainians in Ukraine and abroad
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Recently it became known that Ukrainians have begun to actively seek international protection in Poland. This information was published on the website of the Department for Foreigners. In view of this, we decided to explain the difference between international protection and temporary protection and what nuances should be taken into account when obtaining such status.


The difference between temporary protection and international protection 


Persons under temporary protection have the right to apply for refugee status (i.e. international protection) at any time. However, there are important details to consider when seeking such status.


First of all, with temporary protection, you can return to your country of citizenship without hindrance. Instead, while waiting for the decision of the authorized body to grant refugee status, it is prohibited to cross the border of the host country. In addition, temporary protection can be obtained in any safe EU country (subject to exceptions), unlike refugee status, which can only be obtained in the country whose border the person first crossed.


Refugee status also involves a number of serious restrictions:

– inability to leave the host country until the status is granted;

– inability to return to Ukraine after receiving the status;

– inability to find a job until the status is granted, as well as in case of refusal to grant it;

– confiscation of the applicant's identity documents.


Who is eligible for international protection?


A person may need international protection if they fear returning to their country of origin because they are at risk of persecution or serious harm due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a political or social group. According to international and Polish law, in order to be recognized as a refugee, a person must meet certain criteria.


However, international protection is not granted automatically. Persons hoping to receive this protection must file an application and show the government that they meet the requirements.


Which country can grant international protection?


In the European Union (EU), only one EU country can process an application for international protection, usually the first country of entry. This is called the Dublin Regulation.


This means that if a person enters the EU for the first time through Poland:

– Poland is the only EU country that can consider an application for international protection;

– such a person is likely to be sent back to Poland if he or she travels to another EU country and applies for international protection there.


There are limited exceptions to this rule (e.g. holding a valid visa for another EU country or family reunification).


Important! International protection is often referred to as "asylum", however, this is not the case in Poland. Polish law defines different types of protection:


– International protection - refugee status and subsidiary protection;

– Asylum - a separate, national form of protection;

– Humanitarian or permissible stay - a national form of legalization of stay in the absence of the possibility of deportation/return.




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Who examines applications for international protection?


In Poland, the government, not the UNHCR, is responsible for examining applications for international protection and recognizing someone as a refugee.


An application for international protection must be submitted through the Polish Border Guard. The Polish Office for Foreigners (OFF) is responsible for examining applications for international protection and making decisions on granting protection.


More information on applying for international protection in Poland is available on the official website.


What are the conditions for applying for international protection in Poland?


A person has the right to apply for international protection at any time if he/she:

1. Is on the territory of Poland (including in custody) or on the border of Poland.

2. Fears that he/she will be persecuted in his/her country of origin for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, or that, if returned, he/she would be under a serious threat of death penalty and execution, torture, inhuman treatment or serious threat to life due to widespread violence or armed conflict.


At the same time, a person may include other family members in his or her application (for example, minor children or spouses) only if such a family member is physically present at the time of application. It is not possible to apply for international protection from abroad.


The average waiting period is up to 6 months before a decision on granting such status is made.


If you have any additional questions about the conditions and necessity of obtaining international protection, restrictions that may be imposed on persons with the relevant status, or the application process, please contact Visit Ukraine lawyers. Our specialists will answer all your questions, explain all the nuances of obtaining a particular type of protection and, if necessary, help you solve your urgent issues. To order a legal consultation or full legal support, please follow this link.


We remind you! The Polish government has promulgated amendments to the special law on temporary protection of Ukrainians in Poland, which are to enter into force on July 1, 2024. Find out more about the innovations in obtaining and using PESEL UKR for refugees from Ukraine in our previous article.


Want to know more? Read the latest news and useful materials about Ukraine and the world in the News section.






Ihor Usyk is the Head of Legal Department at Visit Ukraine


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