Latest Asylum Trends

October 2020

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. Note that data until the end of 2019 include the United Kingdom (30 EU+ countries), whereas data as of January 2020 exclude the United Kingdom (29 EU+ countries).

Reference month:   Citizenship:   


© EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries. The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the European Union.1
Source: EASO EPS, October 2018 – October 2020.

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. 

EU+ refers to the 27 European Union Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland. However, until the end of 2019 data for the EU+ include also the United Kingdom.

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 at 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

  • Partial lockdowns, travel bans, and other preventative health measures continue to reduce the mobility of asylum seekers in general and the extent to which they are able to reach the EU+ and lodge asylum applications.
  • Since September 2020 a new round of restrictive measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, often local and regional, began to be implemented in EU+ countries. However, a certain level of asylum and reception services could be retained because of developed health protocols, logistical arrangements, and technical solutions for online activities (link).
  • Almost 43 200 applications for international protection were lodged in October, stable compared to September but overall, monthly applications remained at approximately two thirds of pre-COVID-19 levels (January and February 2020).
  • Syrians, Afghans, Pakistanis, Colombians, and Venezuelans lodged the most applications (slightly more than two fifths of all applications in the EU+).
  • During October, among the top 30 citizenships, only Brazilian citizens sought asylum more often than in October 2019.
  • Asylum applications remained considerably more numerous than detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU external border, following a decrease in the latter. 
  • The share of repeated applicants (11 %) was still higher than before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Slightly over 41 300 first-instance decisions were issued in October in the EU+, a decrease of 14 % compared to September 2020. Syrians, Colombians, Venezuelans, Afghans, and Pakistanis received the most decisions.
  • An estimated 882 500 cases were pending at all instances in the EU+ at the end of September, 14 % fewer than in March 2020. 
  • At the end of October, some 419 571 cases were pending at first instance only, up by 4 385 cases from September. 
  • The EU+ recognition rate for EU-regulated types of protection at first instance was 33 %, up by five percentage points from September.


EU+ picture: In October, roughly the same amount of people sought asylum in the EU+ as in the previous month. The number of applications remained approximately two thirds of that received before the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe. EU+ countries issued fewer first-instance decisions compared to September and the number of pending cases increased slightly.

Asylum applications in October stable at moderate levels, still fewer than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19-related measures continue to influence asylum applications and the way that they are processed. In October, roughly the same number of asylum applications were lodged as in September. After a modest increase at the end of the summer, just 43 200 applications were lodged in the EU+ in October which is considerably lower than in the pre-COVID-19 months of January (65 692) and February (61 421). Most asylum applications continued to be concentrated in the most populous EU+ countries, with over two thirds of all applications being lodged in just four receiving countries. Furthermore, even though applications in most countries were below the levels before the pandemic, there were some countries where applications reached or even exceeded the numbers at the beginning of the year. 

So far in 2020, approximately 381 015 applications were lodged in the EU+, fewer (- 31 %) than in the same period in 2019. At the same time, there were just 87 500 detections of illegal border-crossing at the EU+ external borders, down by 21 % from the same period last year.2 For every detection in October 2020 approximately four asylum applications were lodged. 

In October, 11 % of all applications continued to be repeated applications in the same reporting country. This was an equivalent share to that in September but still higher than in the first three months of 2020, when repeats accounted for 8 - 9 % of all applications.

The share of applications lodged by (self-claimed) unaccompanied minors (UAMs) was 5 %, up by one percentage point from September and higher than in previous periods. 

In October, EU+ countries issued more than 41 300 decisions at first instance, which is a 14 % decrease from September and the lowest number so far this year, notwithstanding the ‘lockdown’ months of April, May, and June when decision-making was unusually high.

EASO estimates that, at the end of September 2020, there were some 882 500 cases pending at all instances (asylum authorities plus appeal bodies) in the EU+,4 some 14 % fewer than half a year earlier (at the end of March). At the end of October there were some 419 571 cases pending with asylum authorities (first instance), up by some 4 385 from September. Although still significantly lower than before the start of the pandemic in February, October was the second month in a row with an increase in pending cases. At the end of October, two thirds of all cases awaiting first-instance decisions were pending for more than six months, which is a minor decrease from September, but still much higher than in February. 

The first instance recognition rate for EU-regulated types of protection5 was 33 % in October, up by five percentage points from September. Recognition rates have varied wildly since the start of the pandemic but this has been linked to the type and number of cases which are being processed rather than the protection needs of applicants arriving in the EU+. 

Citizenships lodging the most applications

In October, Syrians (6 087 or 14 % of the total), Afghans (5 518 or 13 %), Pakistanis (2 171 or 5 %), and Colombians (2 126 or 5 %) lodged the most applications, jointly accounting for over one third of all applications in the EU+. Fewer Syrians and Colombians sought asylum than in September (- 6 % and - 15 %, respectively), whereas more Afghans and Pakistanis lodged applications for the sixth consecutive month (+ 12 % and + 13 % compared to September, respectively). Among the main citizenships, and following the drop in Syrian applications, only Pakistani nationals are now lodging applications at pre-COVID-19 levels.6

Iraqis, Bangladeshis, Nigerians, and Algerians also lodged significant numbers of applications in October, and all increasing compared to September. At lower levels,7 there were also more applicants from Brazil (+ 136 %), El Salvador (+ 62 %), Tunisia (+ 49 %), Sudan (+ 34 %), Cameroon, and The Gambia (+ 27 % each). It is worth noting that Brazilian nationals lodged some 357 applications in the EU+, the most for several years. Meanwhile, after lodging many applications in the previous month, Moldovans and Hondurans sought asylum less frequently in October (- 26 % and - 19 %, respectively).

As earlier, a high share of applicants from Western Balkan countries lodged repeated applications, including citizens of North Macedonia (44 %), Serbia (36 %), Kosovo (32 %), Bosnia and Herzegovina (30 %), and Albania (29 %). A similar trend characterised the applicants from Armenia (58 % were repeated applicants), Azerbaijan (38 %), Haiti, and Russia (37 % each), Nigeria (36 %), The Gambia (33 %), as well as Ethiopia and Sri Lanka (26 % each).

More than three fifths of all (self-claimed) UAMs were Afghans (48 %) and Syrians (13 %). The number of Afghan UAMs had been on the rise since May and in October it reached a peak in at least the past two years. On a smaller scale a similar trend appeared for Syrians. The proportion of UAMs was also high among Afghan applicants (17 %, + 4 p.p. from September). In addition, there were high shares of UAMs among Egyptians (15 %, + 10 p.p.) as well as Moroccans (10 %, - 4 p.p.).


Focus on relevant citizenships

Afghans – On a rise for the sixth consecutive month, Afghans lodged some 5 518 applications for international protection in the EU+, up by 12 % compared to September, but still below pre-COVID-19 levels. However, some countries in the EU+ received record numbers of Afghan applications in October.

Fewer first-instance decisions were issued to Afghan applicants in October (2 976 or - 20 %). In fact, the number of decisions issued to Afghans has fluctuated from month to month since the beginning of the year. The number of Afghan pending cases increased to 49 316 (+ 1 772 from September), likely due to the decreased case outflow, and Afghans continued to contribute the most to the backlog in the EU+. 

The EU+ recognition rate for Afghan applicants in October 2020 was 54 %, somewhat lower than in the previous month. Since the beginning of the year, the monthly recognition rate for Afghans has fluctuated between 36 % to 59 %, reflecting the differences in recognition rates and changing numbers of decisions issued at the national level.

Pakistanis – Pakistanis have applied for asylum in increasing numbers since April 2020, lodging some 2 171 applications in October (+ 13 % from September) and reaching pre-COVID-19 levels. In addition, in October Pakistan became the third most important country of origin in terms of applications for the first time this year. 

Some 1 685 first-instance decisions were issued to Pakistanis in October, 17 % more than in September but slightly fewer than in July. Pakistanis have been issued fewer first-instance decisions than in pre-COVID-19 months, and since August were issued fewer decisions than the number of applications lodged. At the same time Pakistanis withdrew the second-most applications (362 in October) after Afghans. Given the higher number of applications than case outflow, the number of pending cases for Pakistanis in October increased for the second month in a row (19 555 in October, + 279 from September). Still, the backlog of Pakistani cases remained lower than before the pandemic.

The EU+ recognition rate for Pakistanis in October 2020 was 12 %, the highest so far this year but similar to the recognition rate in 2019 (11 %). However, it has fluctuated since the beginning of 2020 (5-12 %).

Venezuelans – With 1 943 (- 19 % from September) applications in October 2020, Venezuelans were only the fifth most important nationality in terms of applications, after ranking third for much of 2020 and the last year. Venezuelans have been lodging progressively fewer applications since July. 

Some 1 886 first instance decisions were issued to Venezuelans in October, down by more than half compared to September, and the fewest since May. Some 18 345 cases were pending at first instance for Venezuelans in the EU+. 

The EU+ recognition rate for Venezuelans was 7 % in October, a considerable increase from September and also higher than the recognition rate for the year so far (2 %). The majority of Venezuelans are granted humanitarian protection under national law, which is not included in the EU+ recognition rate.


First instance decisions for top citizenships

Over 41 000 first-instance decisions were issued in October 2020, almost a third of which were issued to Syrians, Colombians, and Venezuelans. More decisions were issued to nationals from Syria (6 174, + 9 % compared to September), Pakistan (1 685, + 17 %), and Turkey (1 610, + 21 %). However, most of the top citizenships received fewer decisions in October compared to September. Most notably, there were fewer decisions issued to Afghans (2 960, - 21 %), Colombians (2 686, - 61 %), Venezuelans (1 886, - 62 %), and Iraqis (1 699, - 21 %). These drops contributed to the 14 % decrease in the total number of decisions issued in the EU+.

For the nationalities receiving fewer first-instance decisions, monthly decreases took place for citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (439, - 23 %), Peruvians (418, - 34 %), and Palestinians (385, - 31 %). In contrast, increases were particularly noteworthy for Ukrainians (649, + 35 %), Kosovars (341, + 64 %), and Tunisians (229, + 45 %). 

EU+ recognition rates for top citizenships

Among the citizenships receiving most decisions at first instance,8 Syrians (85 %) had the highest recognition rate for EU-regulated types of protection in October 2020, followed by Eritreans (82 %). Somalis (58 %), Afghans (54 %), and Turks (52 %) were the other three citizenships with recognition rates above 50 %. Nevertheless, for some of the mentioned citizenships, recognition rates in October were slightly higher than during the first 10 months of this year. For example, the overall recognition rates for Afghans and Turks so far this year were 51 % and 46 % respectively.

For Latin American countries, EU-regulated types of protection were generally granted at low rates in October, including for Colombians (3 %), Venezuelans (7 %), and Hondurans (9 %). From such positive decisions, Colombians and Hondurans received mostly refugee status, while Venezuelans were mostly granted subsidiary protection (most Venezuelans receive humanitarian protection, which is not included in EU-regulated types of protection). Nationals of El Salvador and Nicaragua had slightly higher recognition rates (17 % and 30 %, respectively).

As in the previous months, recognition rates were also low for Georgians (3 %), Algerians and Bangladeshis (4 % each), as well as Albanians (5 %).

Pending cases for top citizenships

First-instance pending cases refer to those that are still being processed with asylum authorities, and do not include those that are open in appeal or review. At the end of October, most pending cases at first instance still belonged to Afghans (49 316 or 12 % of the total in the EU+), Syrians (37 559 or 9 %), and Pakistanis (19 555 or 5 %).

The backlog remained un-reduced for most of the main nationalities with many open cases (i.e. at least 5 000), with a few exceptions such as Iraqis (14 597) and Iranians (10 258), for whom the stock of pending cases was the lowest for at least two years. In contrast, the month-to-month increase in the backlog was most notable for Venezuelans (+ 12 %) and Colombians (+ 9 %). Among the nationalities with fewer pending cases, the increase was particularly significant for Brazilians (1 495 cases pending in October, + 188 from September), Tunisians (1 194, + 118), and Belarusians (751, + 118). These developments coincided with more nationals from these three countries seeking asylum in the EU+ in recent months.

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 December 2020


[1] The designation "Kosovo" is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence".
[2] Frontex, Situation at EU external borders – Arrivals down in Western and Eastern Mediterranean, 17 November 2020.
[3] Repeated application refers to an application for international protection lodged after a final decision has been made on a previous application by the same person in the same reporting country.
[4] Eurostat, migr_asypenctzm, last update on 15 December 2020, accessed on 15 December 2020. 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). In some cases, EPS data on pending cases in appeal/review might be used instead.
[5] This recognition rate does not include national forms of protection, which Venezuelans and other nationals are granted in some EU+ countries.
[6] Average number of applications between January and February 2020.
[7] Among citizenships lodging less than 500 applications in October.
[8] Only citizenships receiving at least 500 decisions (accounting for 80 % of the EU+ output) in October are considered.