Latest Asylum Trends
Latest asylum trends – March 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, March 2017 – March 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 March 2019, EU+ countries recorded some 58 778 applications for international protection, slightly more than in February.1 This total was considerably higher (+ 20 %) than a year earlier in March 2018, and was the continuation of rising asylum trends which have been observed since the beginning of 2019. A vast proportion of the applications registered in March were lodged by persons exempt of visa requirements when entering the Schengen area: some 28 %, the highest concentration ever registered in the EPS data exchange. Four of these citizenships were included in the list of the ten most common countries of origin (Venezuela, Colombia, Albania and Georgia) of applicants for international protection in the EU+.
Repeated applicants – applicants who previously lodged an application in the same EU+ country – continued to account for one in 10 applicants in the EU+. As was the case in the previous months, nationals of Western Balkan countries tended to lodge repeated applications in extremely high numbers. For instance, with regard to nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia, one in four applications were repeated.
Some 3 % of all applications were lodged by self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs).2 The highest concentration of UAMs was among nationals of Vietnam: one in ten applicants.3 High concentrations of UAMs were also found among applicants from several African countries, such as Eritrea, Guinea and Sudan.
The most common countries of origin of applicants in March were Syria, Venezuela and Afghanistan, jointly accounting for a quarter of all applications lodged in the EU+. The largest month-on-month increase was registered with regard to Afghan applications, which were also considerably more numerous (+ 48 %) than in March 2018. Venezuelans, on the other hand registered a new record level for a second month in a row; compared to a year ago, applications by Venezuelan nationals almost tripled. The number of Syrian applications, instead, remained stable.
Iraq, Colombia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Albania and Georgia also featured among the ten most common countries of origin of applicants. Iraqi nationals, who ranked fourth, lodged much fewer applications than the preceding citizenship, Iraqis; this means that the overall caseload was slightly more unevenly distributed among the top three citizenships of origin. The number of applications lodged by Colombian nationals (+ 32 %) continued to rise sharply; compared to twelve months earlier, they lodged more than five times as many applications. The number of Colombian applications recorded in March was also the highest since the start of the EPS data exchange; the same was true for several other Latin American countries, including El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Peru. In March, nearly two in ten applications in the EU+ were lodged by nationals of countries located in Central or South America, mostly exempt of visa requirements when entering the Schengen area. The remaining citizenships lodged roughly as many applications as February, with the exception of Turkish (- 17 %) nationals who applied in lower numbers.
Focus on relevant countries of origin of applicants
Syria – Syria remained the main country of origin in terms of applications lodged, a position they held uninterruptedly since (at least) January 2014. In March, they lodged some 5 336 applications for international protection, broadly as many as in February. Two-thirds of all Syrian applications were lodged in just two EU+ countries.
Syrian applicants received some 7 684 first-instance decisions, about 700 more than in February; two-thirds of such decisions were issued in a single EU+ country. Overall in the EU+, there were more case closures (either because a decision was issued or the application was closed after a withdrawal or discontinued for other reasons) than applications lodged by Syrian applicants. Some 44 655 Syrian applications were pending at first instance at the end of March, of which nearly four-fifths in just five EU+ countries.
The EU+ recognition rate for first-instance decisions issued in the past six months (October 2018 – March 2019) was 89 %, whereas it was 87 % in the previous semester.
Afghanistan – Afghan nationals lodged 4 280 applications for international protection in March, considerably more than in February (+ 19 %). Three quarters of such applications were lodged in just three countries. Nearly one in ten applications were repeated, and about 7 % were lodged by UAMs: this was one of the highest concentrations among all countries of origin.
Afghan applicants received some 3 054 first-instance decisions in March, on par with those received in February. However, applications lodged outnumbered case closures; as a result, Afghan applications pending at first instance increased to a much larger extent, by some 700. Overall, some 32 735 cases were pending at first-instance for Afghan applicants at the end of March, four-fifths of which in just five EU+ countries.
The first-instance EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past six months to Afghans was 48 %, up by 2 percentage points from the previous semester.
Venezuela – Venezuelan nationals lodged some 4 304 applications for international protection in March, the highest number ever registered in the EPS data exchange, after a record level was already registered a month earlier in February. Compared to March 2018, there was a nearly-threefold increase. Almost all their applications were lodged for the first time, but Venezuelans continued to apply in a very limited number of EU+ countries. In some of these, the number of repeated applications has begun to increase.
Some 555 first-instance decisions were issued to Venezuelan applicants in March, more than twice as many as in February; this is also the largest output ever registered for this citizenship. However, the number of case closures was still much lower than applications were lodged, resulting in a further expansion in the stock of cases pending at first instance, which reached 35 570 at the end of the month.
The first-instance EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past six months to Venezuelans was 43 %, up from just 23 % in the previous semester.
Colombia – Similarly to Venezuelans, Colombian nationals – also exempt of visa requirements in the Schengen area – lodged the most applications (2 551) since 2014, after a record level was already registered a month ago. Compared to March 2018, they lodged five times as many claims.
Some 346 first-instance decisions were issued to Colombian applicants in March, about 80 more than in February. The backlog of cases pending at first instance continued to grow, reaching 12 732 applications at the end of March.
The first-instance EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued in the past six months was 10 %, lower by four percentage points compared to the previous semester.
Output of first-instance authorities
In March, some 51 169 first-instance decisions were issued in the EU+, 11 % more than in February.4 This overall output was higher than that registered in all the 10 preceding months, except for October 2018. The output of first-instance authorities rose quite sharply particularly in some EU+ countries; overall, four fifths of all first-instance decisions in March were issued in just five EU+ countries.
Syrian applicants continued to receive more than twice as many first-instance decisions as any other citizenship, followed by Iraqis, Afghans, Nigerians and Pakistanis. These five citizenships jointly received more than a third of all decisions issued in the EU+. These were the citizenships receiving the most decisions also for the past year and a half, testifying to an effort on the EU+ countries’ asylum systems to clear the backlog associated with these citizenships.
Most citizenships received more decisions than a month earlier, in particular Syrians, Nigerians, Bangladeshi and Guineans.5 Applicants from Serbia and North Macedonia, in contrast, received somewhat fewer decisions than in February.
EU+ recognition rates
In March, the EU+ recognition rate at first instance was 36 %.6 The rate was almost the same for the period of the past six months (October 2018 – March 2019) standing at 37%, and more or less stable with the previous semester.7 More than two thirds of the positive decisions granted refugee status, and the remainder subsidiary protection.
Among the citizenships receiving at least 1 000 decisions issued between October and March, Yemeni (91 %) and Syrians (89 %) continued to have the highest recognition rate, followed at a distance by Eritreans (79 %). In contrast, nationals of Moldova (less than 1 percent), North Macedonia (1 %) and Georgia (3 %) had the lowest.
The recognition rate for first-instance decisions issued in the period October 2018 - March 2019 increased considerably for several citizenships of origin, compared to the preceding six months.8 The largest variations pertained to applicants from Venezuela (43 %, + 20 percentage points) and El Salvador (54 % + 18 p.p.), for whom some EU+ countries began to issue increasingly more decisions. Also considerable was the increase in the number of positive decisions issued to applicants from Turkey (54 %, + 12 p.p.). In contrast, over the last six months fewer positive decisions were issued to applicants from Libya (60 %, - 4 p.p.) and Palestine (71 %, - 5 p.p.) compared to the previous semester.
Cases pending at first instance
Pending cases are an important measure of the workload that national asylum authorities face, as well as of the pressure on the national reception systems. At the end of March 2019 there were some 447 860 applications awaiting a decision at first instance in the EU+, about 2 500 fewer than in February. More than two-thirds of the decision-making backlog at first instance was pending in just five EU+ countries. It must also be noted that, at the end of last year, there were always about twice as many applications awaiting a decision in appeal or review, implying that a considerable part of the backlog has partially been transferred from asylum authorities to judicial bodies.9
With regard to the citizenships of origin, Syrian applicants continued to account for one in ten applications pending at first instance, followed by Venezuelans and Afghans, accounting for 8 and 7 % of the total. As it was the case throughout the past months, the number of applicants awaiting a decision at first instance grew considerably among nationals of Latin American countries, due to a large influx in a limited number of countries. These included Venezuelans (+ 5 %), Colombians (+ 9 %), Salvadorians (+ 5 %) and Nicaraguans (+ 14 %). Compared to February, a large increase in the number of cases pending at first instance was also observed among nationals of Afghanistan and Congo DR. Conversely, large decreases took place for Gambian (- 10 %), Ghanaian (- 7 %) and Eritrean applicants (- 6 %), amongst others.
Slightly more than half of all applications were pending for longer than six months (53 %). For some citizenships, a larger proportion of applicants was awaiting a first-instance decision for longer periods, and most notably for Venezuelans (75 % awaiting for six months or longer), Hondurans (71 %), Ghanaians (68 %) and Salvadorians (67 %).
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 all 30 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. Some 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.
 Among citizenships lodging at least 100 applications overall.
 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. Data on first-instance decisions were available for all 30 EU+ countries.
 Among the 20 citizenships with most decisions issued.
 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.
 It is more meaningful to calculate recognition rates over longer periods of time, to limit sensitivity to low numbers, applicants’ profiles and constraints relating to internal organisation of first-instance authorities (i.e. number of working days).
 Among those with at least 1 000 decisions in the period October 2018 - March 2019.
 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).