Management and screening in Syrian asylum cases during high influx

CICJ researchers Maarten Bolhuis and Joris van Wijk recently published a report entitled ‘Case management, identity controls and screening on national security and 1F exclusion; a comparative study on Syrian asylum seekers in five European countries’ (find the report here). The study was commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

The armed conflict in Syria that erupted in 2011 has produced a vast number of forced migrants and is considered one of the driving factors behind the high influx of asylum seekers in Europe since 2014. The sudden and dramatic increase in the number of asylum applications – which affected different European countries in different degrees – led to exceptional challenges with regard to the identification and screening of asylum seekers from Syria.

With limited and often new staff, immigration authorities have had to balance the increasing demands for efficiency with the need to screen cases to identify potential exclusion and security issues. In light of a possible future influx of Syrian asylum seekers or other nationals with similar characteristics in terms of national security or 1F exclusion, this report aims to provide more insight into how a selected number of European countries have dealt with these challenges in the past few years. More specifically, this report discusses how five European countries – Belgium, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden – have organized the identification, registration and decision-making in relation to asylum applications made by Syrian nationals, as well as the screening of Syrian nationals with regard to possible national security and 1F exclusion aspects. This assessment forms the basis for recommendations on how a situation with a large asylum caseload with similar challenges can be handled best in the future.

For the study, interviews have been conducted with representatives of immigration authorities and aliens police agencies, as well as representatives of intelligence and security services and representatives of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). In addition, the research entailed a review of available academic literature, relevant rules and regulations and available formal and informal policy documents.

Bolhuis, M.P. & Van Wijk, J. (2018). Case management, identity controls and screening on national security and 1F exclusion. Final report of a study commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, UDI.