Latest Asylum Trends

November 2019

The visualisation below provides an overview of the key indicators regarding the situation of international protection in the EU+ in the past 24 months. The size of the different circles in the countries of origin is proportional to the volume of applications lodged in EU+ countries, the colour of the circle reflects the recognition rate at first-instance (blue - high, red - low). The shade of the country reflects the stock of pending cases at the end of the selected year. By clicking on a circle, the evolution of these key indicators for the citizenship selected is displayed in the lower panel.

Reference month:   Citizenship:   

 
 
 
 
 

Source: EASO EPS, November 2017 – November 2019.

Asylum applications include all persons who have lodged or have been included in an application for international protection as a family member in the reporting country during the reporting month. 

First-instance decisions include all persons covered by decisions issued on granting EU-regulated international protection status (refugee or subsidiary protection) following a first time or repeated application for international protection in the first instance determination process.

Stock of pending cases includes all cases for which an asylum application has been lodged and are under consideration by the national authority responsible for the first instance determination of the application for international protection (until the first instance decision has been issued) at the end of the reference period (i.e. last day of the reference month). It refers to the “stock” of applications for which decisions in first instance are still pending.

The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and excludes national protection forms (humanitarian reasons). It is calculated by dividing the number of positive first-instance decisions (granting refugee status or subsidiary protection) by the total number of decisions issued.

 

Key findings

  • During the first 11 months of 2019, around 654 566 asylum applications were lodged in the EU+, up by 12% compared to the same period in 2018.
  • In November 2019, there were 67 449 applications for international protection – the second highest monthly number since the end of 2016.
  • In November 2019, Syrians, Afghans, and Venezuelans continued to lodge the most applications, accounting for a quarter of all applications in the EU+.
  • In the first 11 months of 2019, Latin American nationals lodged twice as many applications compared to the same period in 2018.
  • Venezuelans reached a new peak by lodging the most applications since at least 2014.
  • In November 2019, nationals entitled to visa-free entry to the Schengen Area lodged more than a quarter of all applications in the EU+. The majority were from Latin America and increasingly included self-claimed unaccompanied minors.
  • In November 2019, approximately 3% of all asylum applications were lodged by self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs).
  • Some 10% of applications continued to be repeated applications lodged in the same Member State, usually following a negative final decision. This was especially common for nationals of Western Balkans and some Eastern Partnership countries.
  • National authorities issued almost 52 000 first-instance decisions, of which three quarters were issued by only four EU+ countries.
  • Some 30% of first-instance decisions were positive in November, i.e. they granted EU-regulated forms of protection; Syrian applicants had the highest recognition rate (83%), while nationals of Colombia, Venezuela, North Macedonia, and Moldova the lowest (1%).
  • Of all positive first-instance decisions, more than two-thirds granted refugee status, and the remainder subsidiary protection.
  • Overall, around 900 000 cases were pending at the end of October, of which around 40% were estimated to be at second and higher instances i.e. appeal or review. This number shows no sign of reducing.

 

Applications for international protection still on the rise in January-November 2019

During the first 11 months of 2019, approximately 654 566 asylum applications were lodged in the EU+ countries, up by 12% compared to the same period in 2018. In November, some 67 449 applications for international protection were lodged in the EU+1. This was the second highest monthly number of applications since the end of 2016, despite a small reduction compared to October (- 4%). Most EU+ countries received slightly fewer applications than in October, but generally asylum applications remained at a higher level than the rest of 2019; three quarters of the overall caseload continued to be concentrated in just five EU+ countries.

Syrians, Afghans, and Venezuelans lodged the most asylum applications in November, accounting for a third of all applications in the EU+. Syrian and Afghan nationals each lodged more than 7 000 applications; for Afghans this was the second highest level of applications since the end of 2016, whereas for Syrians the second highest in the past year and a half. Even more noticeably, Venezuelans reached a new peak by lodging the most applications (5 405) since at least 2014. Over the past three months, applications by these citizenships have been increasingly concentrated in a limited number of countries. More than two thirds of both Syrian and Afghan applications were lodged in just two EU+ countries (see more in the box below).

Citizens of Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Nigeria, and Albania also lodged significant numbers of applications but of these, only Colombians continued to apply for asylum in larger numbers than in previous months. In fact, Colombians lodged the most applications since at least 2014. In contrast, Albanians lodged the fewest applications since July 2018. For Nigerians a downward trend was even more evident, since they sought asylum more frequently in the first part of 2019.

Consistent with previous months, nationals from visa-exempt third countries accounted for more than a quarter of all applications lodged in the EU+ (19 438). Nearly three quarters of these applicants continued to be nationals of countries located in Latin America, all with sharp upward trends in January-November 2019.

Latin-American citizenships stood out even more when looking at longer-term trends. In the first eleven months of 2018, only Venezuelans appeared among the top 10 citizenships applying for international protection in the EU+. Since then, the number of Colombian applications has more than doubled and, as a result, both Venezuelans and Colombians now appear among the top 10 citizenships applying for international protection in the EU+. Several other Latin American citizenships also lodged record numbers of applications. For example, the number of Honduran, Salvadorian, and Nicaraguan applications more than doubled in the first 11 months of 2019.

As in previous months, approximately 3% of all applications were lodged by self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs) in November.2 The majority were nationals of Afghanistan (25%), Syria (11%), Pakistan (7%), and Venezuela (6%). However, there was an increase in the share of UAMs among Colombians: in November, they accounted for more than 4% of all applications lodged by self-claimed UAMs. For applications lodged during the first 11 months of 2019, UAMs were most common among Vietnamese (among whom 14% of the applications were lodged by UAMs), Afghans (9%), Eritreans (8%), Gambians and Sudanese (7% each).

Consistent with a year-long trend, repeated applications continued to account for approximately a tenth of all applications lodged in the EU+ in November 2019. Similarly to previous months, the share of repeated applicants was particularly high among nationals of nearly all Western Balkans countries: North Macedonia and Serbia (one in three applications in the EU+ were repeated), as well as Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina (one in four). High shares were also observed among Gambians (almost one in three), Russians and Lebanese (one in four), as well as Nigerians and Moldovans (one in five).

 
 

Focus on the main countries of origin of applicants

Syria - In November, some 7 166 applications were lodged by Syrian nationals, exceeding 7 000 for the second consecutive month. Nevertheless, fewer Syrians lodged applications during January-November 2019 (65 600) compared to the first 11 months of 2018 (- 6%). Two thirds of Syrian applications in the EU+ were lodged in just two countries.

Syrian applicants received some 5 841 first-instance decisions in November, similar to the previous month. Syrians were the citizenship with the most first-instance decisions issued so far in 2019 (69 967), twice as many as any other citizenship, and accounting for 13% of the EU+ output.

At the end of November, some 49 000 Syrian cases were pending at first instance, increasing slightly from the beginning of 2019. Almost one in ten of all cases open in the EU+ pertained to a Syrian national. Almost half of such cases were pending for more than six months. Most of the pending Syrian cases in November were equally distributed between the same two EU+ countries where the bulk of Syrian applications were lodged.

In November, 83% of first-instance decisions issued on Syrian nationals granted either refugee status or subsidiary protection. The recognition rate for decisions issued on Syrian nationals in the first 11 months of 2019 was 85%, almost on par with the same period a year ago (87%). Syrians continued to have the highest recognition rate among all citizenships applying for international protection in the EU+. More than 60% of such positive decisions granted refugee status.

Afghanistan - In October 2019 Afghans had lodged a three year record number of applications; this decreased only very slightly in November to 7 067 asylum applications. So far in 2019, some 53 406 applications were lodged by Afghan nationals, a significant increase (+ 28%) compared to the same period in 2018.

Furthermore, Afghans continued to account for the most UAM applications: during the first 11 months of 2019, a quarter of all UAM applications was lodged by Afghans, accounting for 9% of all Afghan applications.

During the first 11 months of 2019, some 32 986 first-instance decisions were issued to Afghan applicants, down by 42% compared to the same period in 2018 and accounting for just 6% of all decisions issued in the EU+.

In November 2019, the first-instance recognition rate for Afghan applicants was 50%, similar to that for decisions issued between January and November in 2019 (48%).

At the end of November, some 46 200 Afghan applications were pending at first instance, the most since the beginning of 2018. More than half of such cases were pending for less than six months.

Venezuela – In November, Venezuelans lodged 5 405 applications, up by 25% from October, reaching a record level since the EPS data exchange was established in 2014. As previously, nearly all Venezuelan applications (92%) were lodged in a single EU+ country.

In November, Venezuelan applicants received more first-instance decisions than any other citizenship (6 658 or 13% of the overall decisions); Venezuelans have been receiving many more decisions in the second part of 2019. As a result, Venezuelans now are the third top citizenship with regard the number of first-instance decisions issued so far in 2019 (31 934 or 6% of the total decisions in the EU+), and almost on par with Afghan applicants.

The recognition rate for Venezuelan applicants continued to be extremely low, and stood at 3% in November; it was only slightly higher for the period January-November 2019 (6%). It must be noted, however, that such recognition rate does not include permits to stay for humanitarian reasons under national law concerning international protection (i.e. humanitarian protection), which are granted automatically to Venezuelan nationals in some EU+ countries.

At the end of November, some 37 700 Venezuelans applications were pending at first instance, the lowest number since the beginning of summer 2019. More than half of these cases were pending for more than six months, although the proportion of such cases has been shrinking so far in 2019 (from 77% in January 2019). This implies that most of the first-instance decisions were issued to Venezuelans with older applications.

 


More than half a million first-instance decisions issued in the EU+ in the first 11 months of 2019

In November 2019, almost 52 000 first-instance decisions were issued in the EU+ countries3, the second highest monthly output so far in 2019. Altogether, in the first 11 months of 2019 more than half a million first-instance decisions were issued. Nonetheless, this overall EU+ output is somewhat lower in comparison to 2018 when during the period January-November national authorities issued on average above 50 000 decisions per month (in total, almost 551 500 decisions in the first 11 months of 2018). This might contribute to explain a growing backlog at the EU+ level. Furthermore, almost three quarters of first-instance decisions in the first 11 months of 2019 were issued in only four EU+ countries.


Stable EU+ recognition rates

The EU+ recognition rate for EU-regulated types of protection in November 2019 was 30%, the same as in October 2019.4 This is some percentage points below the level in the first nine months of 2019. Of all positive decisions issued during January-November 2019, more than two thirds granted refugee status, which was an upward trend compared to the same period in 2018.

Among the top citizenships, Syrians continued to have the highest recognition rate in November 2019 (83%), followed at a far distance by Turks (55%), Afghans (50%), Iranians (42%), and Iraqi (40%). Of these five nationalities, Turks and Iranians had the highest share of positive decisions granting refugee status (99% and 94% respectively). Still there was a wide variation across the EU+ with regard to the recognition rate for some citizenships.


Pressure remains considerable on national asylum authorities in terms of pending cases

At the end of October 2019, there were some 868 715 cases pending at all instances – deeper analysis suggests that this figure is an underestimation, with slightly more than half of all cases pending with asylum authorities at first instance and the remainder pending with judiciaries at second and higher instances.

At the end of November 2019, some 529 989 applications were awaiting a decision at first instance.5 Syrian applicants had the most pending cases (49 019 or 9% of the total pending cases in the EU+), followed by Afghans (46 211) and Venezuelans (37 715). The list of top 10 countries was completed by Colombia, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Eritrea, and Nigeria. As in previous quarter, 81% of all applications were pending in just six EU+ countries, testifying to unequal pressure on national asylum systems across the EU+.

Compared to the beginning of 2019, the number of pending cases increased sharply for Colombians (+ 168%), followed at a distance by Afghans, Eritreans, Turks, Iranians, and Venezuelans. The number of pending cases were reduced only for Nigerians and Iraqi, and remained largely stable for Syrians. Among citizenships with fewer cases pending, just a few had reduced backlog compared to the beginning of 2019, such as Gambians, Ghanaians, Kosovars, Malians, Senegalese and Libyans.

As in previous months, just over half of all cases at first-instance were pending for longer than six months. Nonetheless, considerable variation persisted both across EU+ countries and citizenships of origin. Among the top 10 citizenships of origin, applicants from Eritrea (75%), Nigeria (61%), Colombia (60%), Iraq (56%), and Pakistan (54%) had the highest shares of cases pending for longer than six months. The majority of cases was pending for more than six months also for Venezuelan applicants, however such proportion has been shrinking since the beginning of 2019 (from 77% in January down to 55% in November).

 
 

This page is produced by EASO’s Situational Awareness Unit (SAU) on the basis of monthly data exchanged under the Early Warning and Preparedness System (EPS). The data shared with EASO by the EU+ countries are provisional and unvalidated, and therefore may differ from validated data submitted to Eurostat (according to Regulation (EC) No 862/2007). In line with the dissemination guide on EPS data, EASO cannot publish data disaggregated per EU+ country.

Date of release: 17 January 2020



Notes
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[1] The EU+ is composed of 28 EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland. Monthly data for November were available for 29 EU+ countries.
[2] Claimed UAMs represent the asylum applicants claiming to be below the age of 18 years rather than those assessed to be such after an age assessment has been carried out. Some EU+ countries have difficulties reporting on claimed UAMs in the framework of the EPS data exchange. These figures should therefore be considered as underestimations of the actual proportion of claimed UAMs.
[3] First-instance decisions include all persons covered by decisions issued on granting EU-regulated international protection status (refugee or subsidiary protection) following a first time or repeated application for international protection in the first-instance determination process. Data on first-instance decisions were available for 29 EU+ countries.
[4] The EU+ recognition rate includes EU-regulated forms of protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and excludes national protection forms (humanitarian reasons). It is calculated by dividing the number of positive first-instance decisions (granting refugee status or subsidiary protection) by the total number of decisions issued.
[5] An indication of the cases pending at second and higher instances (i.e. in appeal or review) may be drawn by comparing the number of cases awaiting a decision at first instance (EPS data), with those pending at all instances of the administrative and/or judicial procedure 
(Eurostat migr_asypenctzm).