Latest Asylum Trends
Latest asylum trends – January 2019
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.
Reference month: Citizenship:
Source: EASO EPS, January 2017 – January 2019.
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.
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 in 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.
In January 2019, EU+ countries recorded some 58 609 applications for international protection, a large 21 % increase compared to the preceding month.1 This is typically the case, however, since December is characterised by fewer applications registered due to festivities. More relevant is the fact that there were more applications (+ 9 %) than at the same time last year in January 2018, when some 54 010 applications were lodged in the EU+. Indeed, in January 2019 there were more applications for asylum lodged than at nearly any other point in 2018.
In January there was a three-year peak in the number of repeated applicants (6 095) i.e. those who previously lodged an application in the same EU+ country, accounting for 1 in 10 of all applicants in the EU+. Some citizenships tended to lodge repeated applications more frequently. This was the case, for instance, for nationals of North Macedonia and Serbia, for whom almost half of all applications were repeated; generally, the concentration of repeated applicants was higher among nationals of Western Balkan countries.
Some 3 % of all applications were lodged by self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs).2 The highest concentration of UAMs was among nationals of Vietnam and Sudan: one in ten applicants each.
Syrian, Afghans and Iraqis lodged the most applications in January 2019, such that a quarter of all applicants in the EU+ originated from one of these countries. Syrian nationals lodged about 6 099 applications, up by 25 % from December 2018. Afghans (+ 13 %) and Iraqis (+ 6 %) also lodged increasing numbers of applications. Applicants from Afghanistan lodged considerably more applications than a year earlier in January 2018, confirming an upward trend that started in the second half of 2018.
Most citizenships lodged increasing numbers of applications for asylum in January 2019, including those in the top ten, such as Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria, Turkey, Venezuela, Albania and Georgia. The largest increases took place for Venezuelans (+ 49 %), and especially Nigerians (+ 57 %) who were applying in reduced numbers in the second half of 2018 but in January 2019 lodged the most applications for the last six months. Also significant were Georgians, (2 412) and Moldovans (658) both of whom lodged the most applications for the past five years or so. Somalis (+ 36 %), Colombians (+ 42 %) and Moroccans (+ 30 %) also lodged many more applications in January.
Focus on relevant countries of origin of applicants
Syria – In January 2019, Syrians continued to lodge more applications for asylum than any other citizenship (6 099). Applications were not evenly spread throughout the EU; in fact, two-thirds of Syrian applications in January were lodged in just two EU+ countries. As well as lodging the most applications, Syrians were also issued most first-instance decisions (6 961), twice as many as any other citizenship of origin. Importantly, some 47 860 Syrian applications were pending at first instance at the end of January, about 300 more than a month earlier.
The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued over the six-month period August 2018-January 2019 was 89 %, higher than the preceding semester by 4 percentage points.
Afghanistan – Afghan nationals lodged some 4 182 applications in January, up by 13 % from December and back to the relatively higher levels of the second half of 2018. Some three quarters of such applications were lodged in just three EU+ countries, and one in ten were repeated applications. Afghanistan was the country of origin with the most applications lodged by self-claimed UAMs, accounting for 7 % of all UAM applicants. Some 3 353 first-instance decisions were issued to Afghan applicants in January, fewer than nearly every month in 2018. At the end of January, there were some 31 925 Afghan applications pending at first instance, about 400 more than in December.
The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued to Afghan applicants in the past semester was 49 %, up by eight percentage points compared to the previous six months.
Iraq – Iraqi nationals lodged some 3 435 applications for international protection in January, up slightly compared to December. Iraqis were atypical among the most common applicants in that they actually lodged fewer applications than a year earlier (- 10 %). Almost three-quarters of such applications were lodged in just three EU+ countries and about 13 % were repeated. Some 3 116 first instance decisions were issued to Iraqi applicants in January, 8 % more than in December, but fewer than most other months in 2018. At the end of January, there were 26 357 applications pending at first-instance, 200 fewer than a month earlier.
The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued over the six-month period August 2018-January 2019 was 41 %, up by four percentage points from the previous semester.
Georgia – Georgian nationals – who have visa-free access to the Schengen Area – have been steadily lodging more applications each month since the autumn of 2018, until finally in January 2019 they lodged the most applications for the last five years (2 412). Two thirds of such applications were lodged in just three countries. Among the main countries of origin, Georgians had the lowest share of unaccompanied minors (< 0.5 %). In January, Georgian applicants received some 1 446 decisions at first-instance, slightly more than in each month of 2018. However, this citizenship lodged far more applications, such that the number of applicants still awaiting a decision at first instance increased substantially – by about 700 cases - to 9 565 by the end of January. The stock of Georgian applications pending at first instance has been constantly expanding since September 2017.
The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past semester was 3 %, stable with that registered six months earlier (2 %).
Colombia – Colombian nationals – who have visa-free access to the Schengen Area – lodged some 2 412 applications in January 2019. This is one of the highest number of applications ever lodged by this citizenship in a single month in the EU+, more than three times as many compared to a year ago. Nationals of Colombia had been lodging progressively more applications since the second half of 2018.
In January 2019, just 141 decisions were issued at first-instance to Colombian applicants, on par with December. Due to the fact that many more applications were lodged than decisions issued, the stock of pending cases increased massively to 10 859, a three-fold increase compared to January 2018 (3 117).
The EU+ recognition rate for Colombian applicants was 15 % for the period August 2018-January 2019, 4 percentage points higher than the previous semester.
Output of first-instance authorities
EU+ countries issued some 46 833 decisions at first instance in January, 11 % more than in December 2018. However, this overall output is still lower than most months in 2018.
The three citizenships receiving most decisions were those that also lodged the most applications: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, jointly receiving more than a quarter of all the first instance decisions. Syrians received more than twice as many decisions as Afghans. Compared to December, EU+ countries tended to issue more decisions to all the top 30 citizenships of origin, with the exception of China (- 25 %). Notably, many more decisions were issued to Nigerian (+ 22 %), Iranian (+ 32 %), Albanian (+ 33 %) Turkish (+ 22 %) and Georgian applicants (+ 19 %). It is noticeable that, with regard to several countries of origin, there were more applications lodged (inflows) than decisions issued or cases closed (outflows). The gap was particularly evident for Georgians, since they lodged some 2 412 applications, but only 1 614 decisions were issued or cases closed. Such gaps typically lead to a rise in the number of cases pending at first instance.
EU+ recognition rate
The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in January was 35 %,3 more or less in line with the recognition rate calculated over the last six months (August 2018-January) which was 36 %. Two thirds of all positive decisions granted refugee status, and a third granted subsidiary protection.
Among the 30 citizenships with most decisions issued, Syrians remained the citizenship with the highest recognition rate (89 %), followed by Eritreans (79 %). In contrast, those from the Republic of North Macedonia (2 %), Georgia (3 %), and Ghana (4 %) had the lowest.
Applications pending at first instance
Pending cases are an important measure of the workload that national asylum authorities face, as well as pressure on the national reception systems. At the end of January, some 450 675 applications were pending a decision in first instance in the EU+, about 2 500 more than a month earlier.4 This is more or less the same as a year ago in January 2018. Crucially, a nearly equal number of cases were also pending at second and higher instance. Correspondingly, Eurostat reported that, at the end of November 2018, some 889 125 applications were pending at all instances, almost twice as many as the number of cases pending at first instance reported by EASO.5
With regard to the citizenships of origin, one in 10 applications pending at first instance still pertained to a Syrian national, followed by Venezuelans and Afghans, each accounting for 7 % of the total. A year ago, the stock of Venezuelan applications accounted for a much narrower 3 % of the total. Compared to December 2018, the largest increases in the stock regarded applicants from Venezuela (+ 1 496), Georgia (+ 737), Colombia (+ 604) and Palestine (+ 593). Conversely, substantial decreases took place for Nigerians (- 768), Ivoirians (- 525) and Eritreans (- 414). In fact, the number of applications lodged by nationals of several African countries decreased massively in 2018, leading to a sharp drop in the number of applicants from such countries still awaiting a decision across the EU+.
At the end of January, slightly more than half of all cases pending at first instance were pending for longer than six months.
This page is produced by EASO’s Information and Analysis Unit (IAU) 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.
 The EU+ is composed of 28 EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland. Monthly data on applications for international protection were available for 29 EU+ countries.
 Claimed UAM represent the asylum applicants claiming to be below the age of 18 years rather than those assessed to be such after an age assessment has been carried out. Several EU+ countries have difficulties reporting on claimed UAM in the framework of the EPS data exchange. These figures should therefore be considered as underestimations of the actual proportion of claimed UAM.
 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.
 Data on pending cases for December 2018 were available for all 30 EU+ countries, whereas for 29 EU+ countries in January. Thus, the number of cases pending at the end of January was certainly higher.
 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 data).