Reception of asylum seekers
Applicants for international protection have the right to material assistance (reception) throughout the procedure for international protection.
The reception path starts at the arrival centre of Fedasil. The arrival centre occupies the “Petit-Château” in Brussels since December 2018. It brings together the Fedasil teams in charge of the first reception and the designations, as well as the 'Registration' service of the Immigration Office.
Allocation of a reception place
In the arrival centre, Fedasil makes a first social and medical screening of the applicants and controls whether they are entitled to reception. If so, they are accommodated in the arrival centre until a reception place adapted to their situation is found. The stay in the reception centre is thus short – about 1 week.
All applicants older than 5 are subject to a chest x-ray for tuberculosis (TB) on their arrival at the arrival centre. Those affected must be admitted to hospital. Applicants must undergo this examination every six months for the first two years of their stay in Belgium.
Fedasil informs the applicants for international protection of their rights and responsibilities during the reception period.
Fedasil will then allocate them a reception place (the compulsory place of registration or 'code 207'). That is where the asylum seeker will benefit from material assistance.
The reception offered is optional. If the asylum seekers decide not to be accommodated because they can be hosted by friends or family, they lose the benefits of material assistance, except medical assistance. They do not receive any financial help.
Belgium has over 34,000 reception places in total. The network comprises collective and individual reception structures. The collective structures are reception centres managed by Fedasil, the Red Cross of Belgium or other partners. The individual structures are housing managed by the Public Social Welfare Centre (‘local reception initiatives’) or by NGOs.
The reception centres are 'open', meaning the residents are free to come and go. They receive accommodation and meals, clothing and also social, medical and psychological support, a daily allowance (pocket money) as well as access to legal assistance and services such as interpreting and training.
End of the reception
The right to reception ends once the procedure for international protection has finished and all possible appeals have failed. In the event of a positive decision, refugees (or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection) receive a resident’s permit and may start to look for their own accommodation. They are entitled to remain at the reception structure for a further two months in order to allow them to find suitable accommodation. They may request assistance from a Public Social Welfare Centre.
Following a negative decision, the 'failed' applicant for international protection receives an order to leave the territory. Those whose negative decision has been confirmed by the Council for Alien Disputes are invited to go to one of the four Fedasil centres that organise 'open return places'. The priority is to convince the residents of the advantage of a voluntary return as opposed to a forced return. The 'open' nature of the reception centres is guaranteed since no residents will be removed while awaiting for the order to leave the territory (generally 30 days) and during their stay in the centre the residents are free to come and go.