asylum seekers & refugee assistance

PEI provide assistance to asylum seekers and refugees through the following:

  • Emergency Shelter: Due to the limited access to shelter program for asylum seekers, we provide shelter and food in our two bedroom apartment in Barcelona for African LGBTQI asylum seekers who are in dire need of accommodation, and also talk with our African friends who have houses to host African LGBTQI asylum seekers until they are able to get accommodation from the government program or other organizations. The emergency shelter provides temporary support for a limited period of time because we do not have more resources to host more people.
  • Welcoming Program: We help asylum seekers to document their stories, educate them about their rights and responsibilities with services provided by the government and other organizations. We also assist to pay for language classes for African LGBTQI asylum seekers as a start up for their integration process. We ensure that asylum seekers receive detailed information about eligibility and the process of seeking asylum, and that trained legal counsel is secured for them at no expense.
  • Legal Assistance and Guidance – PEI assists African LGBTQI asylum seekers with attestation, independent reports and in some cases gather signatures to support their claims to asylum courts and refugee commissions in Spain, Belgium and France. We help refugees navigate UNHCR Refugee Status Determination procedures and obtain assistance from local health and social service providers. PEI has pro bono lawyers who provide professional legal support to African LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees. We also partner with other organizations providing legal aid to asylum seekers and refugees.

FAQ's for asylum Seekers

Who is eligible for seeking international protection in Spain?

Spain’s  Regulatory Act 12/2009 on the Right to Asylum and Subsidiary Protection in Spain accords refugee status to anyone with a justified fear of persecution in their own country for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political views or belonging to a specific social group, gender or sexual orientation. It also recognizes as stateless any person who has no nationality, is outside their country of normal residence and either does not wish or is unable to return to that country for any of the above reasons.

Where can I submit my application for asylum?

At any border checkpoint in Spanish territory, at ports and airports; at any asylum and refuge office (OAR); and any immigrant detention centre (CIE).

The Barcelona Asylum and Refuge Office (OAR) is at Passeig de Sant Joan, nº 189. Metro L4 Joanic (yellow line).

Can I claim asylum from abroad?

Spain’s Asylum Act provides for the possibility of Spanish ambassadors abroad being able to arrange the transfer of an applicant for international protection who has turned to diplomatic representation and claimed danger to life and limb, providing they are not a national of the country they are currently in.

What are the procedural steps for claiming asylum?

The first step is to book an appointment for a personal interview at Barcelona’s Asylum and Refuge Office (OAR). During your interview you will basically be asked about your identity, how you managed to get to Spain and the reasons for your persecution. Staff there have to know what you have been through if they are to help you. You can produce supporting documents during your interview or throughout the entire process.

The OAR will decide within a period of one month whether or not to process your claim. If you have made your claim at a border checkpoint, the authorities have four days to make their decision.

Note that, under the Dublin Convention, it is the first European Union member state which an asylum seeker gets to that is responsible for processing their asylum application. So, if you are registered in Spain, you will not be able to claim asylum in another country.

Is the process confidential?

The entire process is confidential and anyone who speaks to you (civil servants, police, interpreters, lawyers) is under a legal obligation to keep everything you say in strict confidence.

Only the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) is informed of your claim. The government of your country of origin or provenance will never be informed of your application for international protection in Spain. Nor can you be returned to your country of origin or provenance until a decision has been taken regarding your case.

Yes. Asylum seekers are entitled to free legal aid and an interpreter.

The Care Service for Immigrants, Emigrants and Refugees (SAIER), part of Barcelona City Council, will advise you on how to present your case, help you to prepare your supporting documents and prepare you for your interview.

Both SAIER and the Free Justice Procedure Service (SERTRA) offered by the Barcelona Lawyers’ Association can provide you with assistance during your interview at the Asylum and Refuge Office (OAR). So can other associations, such as ACCEM and the Spanish Refugee Aid Commission.

What does my claim for asylum entitle me to?

Claiming asylum entitles you to remain in Spain while your application is being processed, halt any removal or expulsion procedure that may concern you, receive legal aid and health care, receive specific social benefits and be documented as an applicant for international protection.

What documents will I receive

The first document you will receive is the interview diligencia, which certifies that you already have an appointment with the OAR to start the asylum claim process.

Once you have completed your interview at the OAR, you will receive a white document containing your personal details and photograph and certifying that you are entitled to remain in Spain until a decision is made over the need for your asylum application to be examined here. As soon as your application has been accepted, you will receive a red document, which will be valid and renewable for 3 to 6 months. Once this 6-month period is over, you will receive a permit to work in Spain.

Applicants for stateless status will receive a green document bearing their photo and foreign resident ID number (NIE), but they will not receive a work permit.

What social benefits will I receive?

The Spanish government has a social welfare programme for asylum seekers without financial resources which covers their basic needs – accommodation, upkeep, counselling and social care – for a period of six months from the submission of their claim for asylum.

Barcelona’s social care programme is run by three social organisations:   ACCEM,   CEAR and the Red Cross.

You must bear in mind, however, that you cannot choose your place of residence. This is a decision taken by the Spanish government according to the availability of places in its network of reception centres.

Who takes the decision on my case and when?

The Spanish government is the sole authority with jurisdiction over asylum and refuge. Your case will be decided by Spain’s Ministry of the Interior, on the initiative of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Asylum and Refuge (CIAR).

Once your application has been accepted for processing, a decision on it ought to be reached within a maximum period of six months. However, the process usually lasts longer. If there is a delay, the authorities must inform you of the reason. Remember that you are entitled to consult your file.

What is Subsidiary Protection?

Subsidiary Protection is granted to individuals who are unable to return to their country of origin as they would face a real risk of suffering serious harm, such as the death penalty or execution, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or serious threats to life and limb, owing to a situation of indiscriminate violence caused by circumstances of internal or international conflict. This protection can be granted to a foreign national who does not meet the conditions to be recognized as a refugee.

Am I entitled to family reunification?

Under Spanish law right to asylum or subsidiary protection covers the spouse or partner of any beneficiary of international protection, children under majority age and parents, providing the latter have proof of dependency and the same nationality. It may also be granted to other families where there is proof of dependency and previous co-habitation in their country of origin.

If I obtain international protection, does that include nationality too?

No, but if you gain refugee status the access time lines are shortened and you can apply for it within five years.

What happens if my application for asylum is rejected?

In that case you will have to leave Spain, unless you have some form of residence permit. You may also appeal against the rejection of your application before a court.

Am I entitled to see a doctor and do I have access to health-care services?

Everyone who applies for international protection has access to the public health system’s  general health-care cover. They will receive this cover once they have obtained their individual health-care card (TSI), which they can apply for from the  primary health-care centre (CAP) in their neighborhood of residence.

What is Dublin Regulation?

The Dublin Regulation (Regulation No. 604/2013; sometimes the Dublin III Regulation; previously the Dublin II Regulation and Dublin Convention) is a   European Union (EU) law that determines the   EU Member State responsible to examine an application for  asylum seekers seeking  international protection under the  HYPERLINK “” \o “Convention relating to the Status of Refugees” Geneva Convention and the EU Qualification Directive, within the  European Union. It is the cornerstone of the Dublin System, which consists of the Dublin Regulation and the EURODAC Regulation, which establishes a Europe-wide fingerprinting database for unauthorised entrants to the EU. The Dublin Regulation aims to “determine rapidly the Member State responsible for an asylum claim and provides for the transfer of an asylum seeker or refugee to that Member State. Usually, the responsible Member State will be the state through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU.

What is a Refugee Travel Document / Geneva Passport?

A Refugee Travel Document (also called a 1951 Convention travel document or Geneva passport) is a  travel document issued to a  refugee by the state in which she or he normally resides allowing him or her to travel outside that state and to return there. Refugees are unlikely to be able to obtain   passports from their state of nationality (from which they have sought asylum) and therefore need travel document so that they might engage in international travel. The 145 states which are parties to the 1951  Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees are obliged to issue travel documents to refugees lawfully resident in their territory. Refugee travel documents are blue passport-like booklets. Their cover bears the words “Travel Document” in  English, Spanish and   French (and often in the language of the issuing state), as well as the date of the convention: 28 July 1951. The documents were originally grey, though some countries now issue them in other colors with two diagonal lines in the upper left corner of the front cover.


Asylum seeker

An asylum seeker is someone who left their country of origin and is requesting protection by filing an application for international protection. No final decision has yet been taken by the potential host country, i.e. it has not been established yet whether the asylum seeker meets the condition required for obtaining refugee status or subsidiary protection status. Consequently, not every asylum seeker is recognized as a refugee at the end of the procedure, but every refugee was initially an asylum seeker.


A refugee is an asylum seeker who has been granted refugee status and thus granted protection by a state. The refugee meets the conditions stipulated in the Geneva Convention, i.e. a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Family Reunification

Family Reunification is a procedure that enables a foreign nation, for example a recognized refugee or a beneficiary of subsidiary protection to bring certain members of her/his family to Spain under certain conditions. Under Spanish law right to asylum or subsidiary protection covers the spouse or partner of any beneficiary of international protection, children under majority age and parents, providing the latter have proof of dependency and the same nationality. It may also be granted to other families where there is proof of dependency and previous co-habitation in their country of origin. Family unification applications are processed by the Immigration Department.


Regularization is a procedure for applying for a residence permit of more than 3 months. Regularization falls within the remit of the Immigration Department

Undocumented Immigrant/Migrant

Undocumented Immigrant/Migrant is a person without a valid residence permit in the country in which she/he is, or who is staying there without authorization, either because the person entered the country without authorization or because the person entered legally and became irregular subsequently.

EU Member States

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union, consisting of 28 member states that are subject to the obligations and the privileges of the membership. Every member state is part of the founding treaties of the union and is subjected to binding laws within the common legislative and judicial institutions. In order for the EU to adopt policies that concern defence and foreign affairs, all member states must agree unanimously. The following countries are EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

The 1951 Refugee Convention / Geneva Convention

The 1951 Refugee Convention / Geneva Convention:  is the key legal document that forms the basis of our work. Ratified​ by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law. UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with us in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected.