The asylum procedure in Hungary: What to expect

Hungary has one of the lowest recognition rates for asylum claims in the European Union — especially for people arriving from war-torn countries.

When you begin the asylum procedure in Hungary, keep in mind that in the first half of 2017:

  • 9.9% of applicants from Afghanistan received protection
  • 12.1% of applicants from Iraq received protection
  • 16.2% of applicants from Syria received protection

Note: Refugee.Info obtained most of the information below from the Hungarian Helsinki Committee. Visit the Hungarian Helsinki Committee's website for an explanation of the transit zones and asylum process in Arabic, English, French, Kurdish, Pashto or Urdu.

When does the asylum procedure in Hungary begin?

The asylum procedure in Hungary starts with entering the transit zones. The next steps are a police check and registration.

Photo Index Hungary: Asylum-seekers wait to enter the transit zone.

How fast is the asylum procedure in Hungary?

After the authorities register your application, they have 60 days to decide on your claim. In practice, they usually decide faster.

Your asylum procedure will be faster if the Asylum Office rejects your application or decides to use the fast procedure. They can use the fast procedure or end your procedure if:

  • You don't tell them why you had to leave your country
  • You lie about your name and country of origin
  • You do not give your fingerprints
  • You came to Hungary without papers and then did not ask for asylum soon enough
  • They believe you got rid of your travel document to hide your identity
  • They believe you are from a safe country
  • They believe you threaten Hungary’s security

In some cases — for example, if Hungary asks you to undergo an age assessment to prove you are under 18 — the procedure can last up to 5 months.

However, Hungary does not respect the 5-month limit in every case.

Photo Index Hungary: Asylum-seekers wait at the entrance to the transit zone in Röszke, Hungary.

Will Hungary send me back to Greece or Bulgaria?

If your fingerprints were taken in another EU member state, like Greece or Bulgaria, you may be sent back to that country, through a process called the Dublin procedure.

If Hungary decides to send you back to another EU member state, your procedure can take longer.

If you can prove that you spent more than 3 months in Serbia and/or Macedonia after leaving Bulgaria or Greece and before arriving in Hungary, you should not be sent back to Bulgaria or Greece under Dublin procedure rules.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee advises you to keep any documents you got in Serbia and/or Macedonia.

Photo Getty Images: Hungarian police and army in a transit zone.

Can I apply for family reunification to another country from Hungary?

If your wife or husband and/or unmarried children under 18 live in another European country, you may be able to ask to join them through family reunification.

When you register in Hungary, you should tell the authorities if you have family in another European country.

What types of asylum decision could I receive?

At the end of your asylum procedure, you will receive one of 4 decisions:

1. Refugee status

If you are granted refugee status in Hungary, you will be transferred from the transit zone to an open reception center, where you can stay for up to one month. You will receive your documents there.

Authorities review your status every three years. It ends when the authorities withdraw it, or you become a Hungarian citizen.

If you have refugee status:

  • you get an ID card
  • you can work
  • you can apply to bring your family to Hungary through family reunification
  • your children can go to school

2. Subsidiary protection

If you are granted subsidiary protection in Hungary, you will be transferred from the transit zone to an open reception center, where you can stay for up to one month. You will receive your documents there.

Authorities review your status every three years.

If you have subsidiary protection:

  • you get an ID card
  • you can work
  • your children can go to school
  • you cannot bring your family to Hungary

3. Humanitarian protection

If you get humanitarian, or temporary, protection:

  • you cannot work
  • you cannot bring your family to Hungary
  • your status ends after one year

4. Negative decision (rejection)

If you get a negative decision, you have 8 days to appeal the decision.

You should write down in your language why you do not agree with the decision and why you cannot return to your home country.

If you need help, you can ask a Hungarian Helsinki Committee lawyer or UNHCR staff in your location.

The first asylum procedure in Hungary is free, but you have to pay for the appeals process. It's not clear how much it costs.

Photo Hungarian Spectrum: Transit zone in Röszke, Hungary.

If you don’t challenge the negative decision or are rejected a second time, you will be placed in immigration detention. If you are in immigration detention, you are in the process of being deported from Hungary.

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