In 2002 Ukraine joined the UN Convention of 1951 and Protocol of 1967.

According to the Law of Ukraine "On Refugees and Persons in Need of Subsidiary or Temporary Protection" from 08.07.2011 No 3671-VI (hereinafter – the Law) Ukraine provides protection to foreigners and stateless persons, who are seeking it on Ukrainian territory, by means of:

  • recognition as a refugee;
  • recognition as a person in need of subsidiary protection;
  • recognition as a person in need of temporary protection.

According to the Law, as a refugee may be recognized a person, who is not a citizen of Ukraine and who resides in a country other than the country of his/her origin as a result of fear of becoming a victim of persecution based on race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship (nationality), belonging to certain social group or political convictions and cannot use the protection of the country of origin or doesn’t want to use such protection because of such fears, or doesn’t have citizenship (nationality) and being abroad the country of his/her permanent stay cannot or do not want to return to his/her own country because of the mentioned fears.

Person in need of subsidiary protection is a person, who is not a refugee in accordance with the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees and the present Law, but is in need of protection whereas such person was forced to arrive in Ukraine or stay in Ukraine in consequence of the threat to his/her life, safety or freedom in the country of origin owing to fear of execution in relation to him/her a death penalty or implementation of judgment on death penalty, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Person in need of temporary protection is a foreigner and/or stateless person, who is forced en masse to seek protection in Ukraine in consequence of external aggression, foreign occupation, civil war, ethnic clashes, natural disasters, man-made disasters or other events which violate public order in a certain part or throughout the country of origin.

According to the Law a foreigner may apply for recognition as a refugee to the respective body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine.

Recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection

According to the Law a foreigner or a stateless person applies for recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection to the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine. Such application is submitted by a foreigner or a stateless person or his/her legal representatives personally at the place of his/her temporary stay.

The main form of protection to foreigners in Ukraine is recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection. The refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection cannot be returned to the country, where their life or freedom is in danger because of race, religion, nationality, citizenship, belonging to social group or political convictions as well as other reasons, which are recognized by international agreements or international organizations, in which Ukraine takes part, basing on which a person cannot be sent back to a country of origin.

If a person, who wants to be recognized as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection, has crossed the country border of Ukraine in order prescribed by the Law of Ukraine, he/she shall apply to the respective territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine during five working days on issues regarding his/her recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection.

If a person, who wants to be recognized as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection, has illegally crossed the border of Ukraine, he/she shall immediately apply to the respective territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine for recognizing him/her as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection.

Issuance of documents on recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection takes place due to application. Such application is submitted personally by a foreigner or a stateless person or his/her legal representatives to the respective territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine at the place of temporary stay of an applicant.

Respective territorial body of the State Migration Service shall:

  • register the application and documents submitted for recognition as a refuge or a person in need of subsidiary protection;
  • inform the applicant or his/her legal representatives under their own signature about the decision procedure following the application, as well as rights and responsibilities of a person to whom the authority has made a decision to process the documents of recognizing him/her as a refuge or a person in need of subsidiary protection;
  • conduct fingerprinting of a person who has applied for recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection;
  • if necessary direct the person for examination in order to establish age in accordance with the laws of Ukraine;
  • fill in the registration application of a person who applied for recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection, and members of his/her family, who are under eighteen years of age;
  • fill in other required document;
  • fill in a personal file;
  • clarify the procedure for applying for free legal aid;
  • enter received information to the centralized information system.

The territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine, which accepted the foreigner’s or stateless person’s application for recognition as a refugee or a person in need for subsidiary protection, issues the applicant a certificate of the application for protection in Ukraine and registers the applicant. Within fifteen working days from the date of registration of the application the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine interviews the applicant considering information contained in the application form and other documents that require additional information and decides on processing the documents of recognition as a refugee or a person in needs a subsidiary protection or refusing to process those documents.

At the request of the applicant a lawyer may participate in preliminary consideration of the application for recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection. Appointment of a lawyer for legal assistance for applicant is held in the established procedure.

During the interview an applicant, who is not fluent in Ukrainian or Russian will be provided by the State Migration Service of Ukraine with an interpreter. Applicant has a right to hire interpreter at his/her own expense or throughout other entities or individuals. The interpreter must adhere to the confidentiality requirements with mandatory registration by the territorial body of the State Migration service of Ukraine of the non-disclosure receipt of the information contained in the applicant's personal file.

Decision on processing or refusal of processing documents of recognition as a refugee or a person in need for subsidiary protection is made according to the written conclusion of the officer responsible for this case and is issued by the order of head of the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine.

In case of taking a decision on processing documents of recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine continues the term of the certificate of application for protection in Ukraine.

Decision on refusal to issue documents of recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection is taken regarding submitted applications, which are obviously unfounded or abusing: if applicant is impersonating another person in order to be recognized as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection as well as regarding applications submitted by persons who were refused to be recognized as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection due to absence of grounds provided for such recognition.

In case of refusal to issue documents recognizing as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine during three working days following the day of submitted application shall send the applicant a written notification with the list of reasons for such refusal and explanation regarding the appeal procedure.

In case of the use of the right of appeal the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine keeps documents identifying the person of an applicant and other documents and informs during the period of three working days the relevant Internal Affairs body in the place of the applicant’s temporary stay.

In case of non-use of the right to appeal during the period of five working days since the receipt of refusal to issue documents regarding recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine shall withdraw the certificate of applying for protection in Ukraine informing during three working days the relevant Internal Affairs body at the place of person’s stay and returns documents which confirm the applicant’s identity and other documents, which are kept by the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine.

Consideration of application of recognizing as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection is provided by interregional units on refugees issues of the territorial bodies of the State Migration Service of Ukraine during the period of two months since the day of the decision to process documents of recognition. The term of consideration can be extended by the head of the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine following the argument-based submission of the official, who is considering the case, but for no longer than three months.

An official the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine conducts interviews with the applicant or his/her legal representatives aimed to identify an extra information which is necessary to verify the facts given by the applicant or his/her legal representatives.

After consideration of the documents, verification of the facts, given by the person, who applied for recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection, the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine drafts a written conclusion regarding recognition or refusal to recognize as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection.

Applicant’s personal file with the conclusion drafted by the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine is sent to the specially authorized central executive authority on migration issues for final decision.

According to the results of comprehensive consideration and evaluation of all the documents and materials, which can be the evidence of available conditions for recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection, the specially authorized central executive authority on migration issues makes a decision on recognition or refusal to recognize as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection.

A foreigner or a stateless person is recognized as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection in Ukraine and considered to reside in Ukraine since the moment of approving a decision of recognizing him/her as a refugee or the one, who resides in Ukraine on legal basis with no time limits.

The decision of the specially authorized central executive authority on migration issues together with applicant’s personal file are sent during three working days to the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine, which considered the application.

The territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine during the period of fifteen working days since the day of receipt of the decision on recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection issues to each person, who has reached the age of sixteen, the refugee certificate or certificate of a person in need of subsidiary protection. The refugee certificate or certificate of a person in need of subsidiary protection is grounds to register in the territorial body of the State Migration Service of Ukraine at place of stay of a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection.

The refugee certificate or certificate of a person in need of subsidiary protection is issued for a five year term.

A foreigner, who was recognized as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection, and has reached the age of sixteen, has a right to receive travel document for travelling abroad in order established by the Ukrainian Law.

A person shall lose the refugee status and status of a person in need of subsidiary protection if he/she:

  • voluntarily again availed him/herself of the protection of the country of his/her citizenship (nationality);
  • obtained Ukrainian citizenship or voluntarily obtained his/her previous citizenship or citizenship of a third country, and avails him/herself of its protection;
  • voluntarily returned to the country, which he/she left or outside the territory of which he/she stayed due to well-founded fear of becoming a victim of persecution;
  • being a stateless person, can return to the country of previous permanent residence because circumstances under which he/she was recognized as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection have ceased to exist;
  • was granted an asylum or residence permit in other country;
  • can no longer refuse to avail him/herself of the protection of the country of nationality, because the circumstances under which he/she has been recognized as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection have ceased to exist;

Persons recognized as refugees or persons in need of subsidiary protection have the same rights, freedoms and responsibilities as well as citizens of Ukraine except in cases established by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine and the international agreements that the Verkhovna Rada has agreed as binding.

The refugee status or status of a person in need of subsidiary protection protection shall be withdrawn from a person if he/she is involved in activities posing threat to national security, public order or health of the population of Ukraine.

The decision on recognition as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection shall be cancelled if such person provided invalid data, submitted false documents that became the reason for recognition a person as a refugee or a person in need of subsidiary protection.