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Applying for international protection

If there is reason to believe that a person's life is in danger upon returning to their home country, Estonia treats them as an applicant for international protection based on international law. An applicant for international protection is a foreigner who has submitted an application for international protection, i.e., a statement of wish to be recognized as a refugee or recipient of additional protection and to receive international protection.

For every foreigner who applies for international protection from Estonia, the Police and Border Guard Board carries out initial procedural steps to determine their identity and citizenship, their legal status, and assess the risk of flight. Based on this, it is decided whether it is justified to detain a person in a detention center managed by the PBGB for the duration of the procedure or whether they will be sent to an accommodation center where the provision of the necessary services is guaranteed by the Social Insurance Board. They would stay in the accommodation center until the final decision on their application for international protection is made.

People who settle in the accommodation center for applicants for international protection have applied for international protection (which is processed by the PBGB), and immigrants do not pose a threat to the Estonian public because they are people who need help and support for various reasons.

There are three types of international protection:

  • Refugee status is granted to a person who has reasonable grounds to fear persecution in the country of origin because of race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or membership in a social group.
  • The recipient of additional protection is a person who does not qualify as a refugee but whose deportation to the country of origin may result in serious danger, including the application of the death penalty or torture.
  • Temporary protection may be granted to a person who has been forced to leave their country of origin due to hostilities or who is at serious risk of becoming a victim of human rights violations and who is unable to safely and permanently return to their home country.

Last updated: 05.09.2023

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