Refugee status, subsidiary or temporary protection: what differences?

Verified 04 April 2022 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Temporary protection for refugees fleeing war in Ukraine

Published on 5 April 2022

Since March 3, 2022, European Union countries have granted “temporary protection” status to Ukrainians fleeing their country at war.

The European Commission proposal discussed on 3 March 2022 and approved on the occasion of the Council of Ministers of the Interior of the EU Member States.

Ukrainian nationals receive the provisional residence permit which enables them to pursue a professional activity.

Asylum is the protection afforded by a State to a foreigner who is or is at risk of persecution in its country. There are two forms of asylum protection: refugee status and subsidiary protection. The French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Ofpra) has sole jurisdiction to grant such status in France. Temporary protection is a special measure decided at European level in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons.

The refugee status shall be granted to:

  • A foreigner persecuted in his own country and who cannot or will not claim protection in that country. They must be persecuted on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group (including on grounds of gender and sexual orientation, the risk of female circumcision) or political opinion. We're talking aboutconventional asylum with reference to the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951.
  • Foreigner persecuted in his country because of his work for freedom. These may include, for example, political or trade union activists, journalists, artists or intellectuals threatened for their commitment to democracy in their country. We're talking aboutconstitutional asylum.
  • A foreigner who has been granted protection by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees but can no longer remain there.

The subsidiary protection is the other protection.

It is granted to an alien who does not meet the conditions for refugee status and who proves that he is exposed in his country to one of the following risks:

  • Death penalty or execution
  • Torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  • Serious and individual threat to life or person due to violence which may extend to persons regardless of their personal situation and resulting from a situation of internal or international armed conflict

Those affected are non-European foreigners who are fleeing their country or region of origin en masse and cannot return. In particular because of armed conflict or violence or because they are victims of serious and repeated violations of human rights.

This exceptional and temporary arrangement is authorized by a decision of the Council of the European Union (EU). The decision shall define the beneficiaries and the date of entry into force of the decision.

The scheme is decided for a period of one year and may be extended by up to two years.

The Council of the EU may at any time put an end to this if the situation in the country of origin allows for the safe and sustainable return of displaced persons.

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