When you first come into contact with the Border Police or the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs. You can ask for asylum right away. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, applying for asylum is a multi-step process. At all stages of the asylum process, you have the right to interpretation and free legal help.
Step 1: Expression of intent to seek asylum
Registration of your intent to seek asylum and issuance of an Attestation on Expressed Intent to Seek Asylum
You can ask for asylum right away. If you tell the Border Police you want to seek asylum. They will refer you to the appropriate unit of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs. An ‘Attestation of Expressed Intent to Seek Asylum’ (also known as a ‘white paper’) will issue to you. This white paper will be valid for up to 14 days.
This is a document that you should always have with you. If you are currently in Sarajevo, you can only express your intent to seek asylum and obtain the necessary attestation from the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs at the Uivak Temporary Reception centre in Hadii, near Sarajevo, between 10:00 and 14:00 on weekdays – this is subject to change at any time.
In the event that you require accommodation, the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs will refer you to one of the reception facilities in BiH, based on space availability.
Asylum seekers private accommodation
Please do not go to one of these facilities on your own, with the exception of the Uivak Temporary Reception Centre. To be accommodated, you must have a referral from the SFA.
Asylum seekers have the option of living in private housing. If you choose to live in private housing, you must find a place to live within the validity period of your Attestation of Expressed Intent to Seek Asylum and then register your address with the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs within three days. The owner of the property must accompany you to the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs in order to register a private address.
You must then submit the ‘white card’ of your registered address to the Ministry of Security’s Sector for Asylum as the contact address for the first asylum registration interview in order to formally submit your asylum application (covered in point 2, below). Asylum lawyers from Vaa Prava (UNHCR’s free legal aid partner) can assist you with this process, either at the nearest Vaa Prava office or at the UNHCR’s Information Centre.
You must then wait for the Ministry of Security’s Sector for Asylum to contact you to schedule your asylum registration interview, either at one of the aforementioned reception facilities or at your registered private address.
Step 2: First interview
Registration of your asylum application with the Ministry of Security’s Asylum Sector and issuance of an Asylum-Card Seeker’s (also referred to as the “yellow card”)
Following your declaration of intent to seek asylum, a registration officer from the Ministry of Security’s Sector for Asylum will contact you for an appointment for the registration interview, either at one of the aforementioned reception facilities or at your registered private address. The Ministry of Security’s Asylum Sector will ask you a few questions about your asylum claim and fill out your asylum application form for formal submission.
You have the right to have a legal representative present during the interview, such as a lawyer from Vaa Prava (UNHCR’s free legal aid partner). If you have a travel document with you when you register, it will be temporarily confiscated by the Ministry of Security’s Sector for Asylum pending a final decision on your application.
Following the registration interview, the Ministry of Security’s Sector for Asylum will issue an Asylum-Card Seeker’s (the ‘yellow card’), which is valid for three months and is normally issued within three days of the registration interview date. This document should be kept with you at all times.
Step 3: Second interview
Refugee status determination
The Ministry of Security’s Sector for Asylum will invite you to a second interview, this time with a refugee status determination officer, who will review your case and make a decision within six months. This period can be extended up to 18 months in exceptional circumstances. In some cases, the Ministry of Security’s Sector for Asylum may reject the application in an expedited procedure (within 30 days). You have the right to remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina while a decision is made, as well as the right to request an interpreter and free legal assistance from the start of the asylum procedure.
If you meet the requirements set out in the Asylum Law, you may be granted refugee or subsidiary protection status. You have the right to appeal if your asylum application is denied. In an accelerated procedure, the deadline for filing this appeal is eight days; in a regular procedure, the deadline is fifteen days.
The Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees is responsible for protecting the rights and concerns of refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina once your status as a refugee has been determined or you have been granted subsidiary protection status.