The first step in the asylum procedure is submitting an application for international protection. You must apply for asylum in person and cannot do it from abroad, nor can you do it on behalf of someone else. Your children under 18 years old will arrive with you in Belgium and will be included in your procedure as a parent. In Belgium, claiming asylum can be primarily done in three locations:
You can ask for asylum with the director of the prison or a staff member of the closed centre if you are staying there.
The border procedure (sometimes ‘airport procedure’) is asking for international protection by applicants at the border or transit zone authorities.
The first interrogation will be carried out by the border police and the report will be sent the Border Control Section of the Immigration Office. The CGRS shall examine the application while the applicant is kept in detention in a closed centre located at the border (In Belgium, usually at a specific detention centre called the “Caricole”, situated near Brussels Airport). Families with children are placed in so-called open housing units.
As is the case in the regular procedure, every asylum seeker receives a personal interview by a protection officer of the CGRS, after the Immigration Office has conducted a short interview for the purpose of the registration of the asylum application and after the asylum seeker has filled in the CGRS questionnaire.
In the border procedure, asylum seekers are entitled to free legal aid (lawyer). However, considering the conditions and time limitations it is not as easy as the normal procedure.
The application might be accepted by CGRA and applicants(s) will receive international protection. If the asylum application is rejected, the asylum seeker has not yet entered the territory and thus must leave the country. Rejected asylum seekers have to be returned by the airline company that brought them to Belgium, to the place from where their journey to Belgium began or to any other country where they will be admitted entry.
‘Appeal at the Border’ is the same as in the regular procedure, except much shorter time limits need to be respected. The time period to lodge an appeal to the CALL while in border detention (including for families in an open housing unit) is 10 days, or even only 5 days.
The law states that applications in detention are treated with priority, then the files will proceed much faster (not more than 1 month). This implies that there is little time to prepare and substantiate the asylum application. If the CGRS has not taken a decision within four weeks, the asylum seeker is admitted to the territory.
Tips for LGBTQIA+ individuals:
Asylum/international protection applications have to be submitted at least eight days after arrival. It usually takes place at Fedasil arrival centre in Brussels (the “Petit-Château”) which is opened by Fedasil since 2018 as the single registration point rather than border. The Petit-Château is an open reception centre with the capacity of 800 reception places for families and singles. Applicants can be out of the centre from 6:00 am to 12:00 pm. They also can apply for leave to stay outside of the centre.
The address is Rue de Passchendaele 2 – 1000 Brussels. The centre is open from 8.30 am and may only accept applications till 9.30. There are separate queues for singles and families/minors, which start queuing from the early morning. Families and minors have priority entrance
The arrival centre is a temporary place for less than a week and maximum 2 weeks. Meanwhile, they will find another reception location in Belgium, adapted to the applicants’ situation and will send asylum seekers to a reception centre while the application is being processed. You will be asked if you have any family members or friends in Belgium to whom you want to be close, which the centre will try and consider. The dispatching service will allocate reception centres for asylum seekers based on possibilities and requests. In some exceptional cases, someone may stay longer (even 2 months) because of unavailable space in requested region or centre.
In the arrival centre, applicants will receive an information brochure which explains your pathway in the arrival centre available in several languages. The arrival path is registration of the application, identification (name, date of birth, nationality, etc.), security screening (taking photograph and fingerprints), medical examination (x-ray of your lungs for tuberculosis infection and COVID-19 test), social intake. Persons with tuberculosis will be admitted to hospital where measures will be taken to prevent the risk of infection. Staying in the reception location takes place over several days, making it possible to better prepare the reception, to give more information and to better coordinate the activities of the Immigration Office and of Fedasil. Fedasil checks whether you have a right to stay in a reception centre.
Basic services such as 3 meals, shower, personal stuff, clothes, free Wi-Fi and pocket money (about 1 euro per day) are offered in the arrival centre. Medical and psychological free services, social assistance, laundry service, small jobs, language (French and Dutch) courses, computers, entertainment activities are also available. The pocket money will be given in the day of leaving arrival centre to the reception centre.
The arrival centre in the Petit-Château is a temporary solution, pending the definitive opening of a new arrival centre on the site of the military hospital in Neder-over-Heembeek.
Tips for LGBTQIA+ individuals: