You asked Refugee.Info: I was fingerprinted in Bulgaria. If I go to another European country, will I be sent back?
Answer: You may be sent back to Bulgaria. Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure.
Why would another country send me back to Bulgaria?
If you were fingerprinted in Bulgaria, other countries in Europe can ask Bulgaria to take you back.
Most European countries have signed the “Dublin agreement,” which governs which country should examine your asylum application.
The countries that signed the agreement are referred to as “Dublin countries.”
Under the agreement, refugees must file for asylum in the first Dublin country they enter.
If they leave that country without approval, other Dublin countries can send them back.
How do they know I was in Bulgaria?
When you gave Bulgaria your fingerprints, authorities entered them into the European Central Database, or Eurodac.
Eurodac usually keeps fingerprint information for about 10 years.
Other Dublin countries can use Eurodac to find out if you first entered Europe via Bulgaria.
Which countries are sending people back to Bulgaria?
If you were fingerprinted in Bulgaria, any Dublin country could request to send you back. Here is what we know:
Data for 2016
In 2016, 624 people were transferred to Bulgaria. Eurostat data does not list which countries transferred these 624 people.
Also in 2016, countries filed 10,386 requests to return refugees to Bulgaria, according to the Bulgarian State Agency for Refugees.
Eurostat data shows that 24 European Union countries, along with Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, made requests to send people back to Bulgaria in 2016.
Data for 2017
Lawyers from the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee told Refugee.Info that recently, Austria has been filing the majority of requests to deport people back to Bulgaria.
According to the Bulgarian State Agency for Refugees, in August and September 2017 alone:
Other countries requested to deport 1,443 people to Bulgaria.
Bulgaria accepted 129 people.
30 people were transferred to Bulgaria.
Note: Transfers usually happen several months after they are requested.
How does it work?
Sometimes, countries decide not to transfer people back to a country they think has limited opportunities or ill treatment for refugees.
Other times, countries decide to ask to send people back to the first Dublin country they entered.
Bulgaria can also refuse to take people back. The country has not said why it decides to refuse some transfers.
When a Dublin country requests to send you back to Bulgaria, a process begins.
How long the process takes, and what happens at the end, depends on which country is making the request.
The process often takes several months.
Important to remember
Even if some Dublin countries are not currently sending many people back to Bulgaria, they could start making more requests to return people there at any time.
No country has explicitly refused to send refugees back to Bulgaria.
Get legal help
If you were fingerprinted in Bulgaria but have moved to another country without permission, get legal advice from a qualified attorney in the country where you are.
The website Refugee Legal Aid Information has a table of legal aid organizations by country. It is available in many languages. Refugee.Info has not independently verified the information on this website.