What do I have to be prepared for after submitting the application for international protection?
If, after crossing the border, you submit an application for international protection in Poland, you are entitled to work only after 6 months of the procedure or after obtaining a positive decision in this case. When entering the territory of the Republic of Poland during the border control you must be prepared for:
1) having the photo of your face taken (obligatory),
2) having your fingerprints taken (obligatory for persons over 14 years of age),
3) medical examination and sanitary procedures,
4) detailed verification of the person (only in cases justified by the security of public order),
5) an individual conversation with a Border Guard officer regarding the circumstances of leaving the country of origin and information necessary to determine which country will be responsible for examining the application for international protection, i.e. whether you have a visa or a residence card in an EU country, or have you resided / applied for protection in any EU country, do you have family members in any EU country and so on.
ATTENTION! Be prepared for all of the above activities to take several hours, sometimes even a full day. You can express your request for protection in any language using words such as “asylum”, “international protection”, “refugee status” and – at this stage – only briefly adding that it is a threat to your safety and life in your country due to the ongoing conflict.
Accepting the application will consist in carrying out the above-mentioned activities, including filling out by the Border Guard a comprehensive, approximately 20-page form in which the Border Guard officer will note your answers to the questions asked by him.
The questions will concern your personal and family data, home address, last job, travels you have made, etc. The most important part will be questions regarding the reasons that made you apply for international protection and the fears and threats related to a possible return to Ukraine.
Questions will also be asked about whether you have been subjected to mental or physical violence, including sexual abuse. If, in addition to the general threat in Ukraine, there are individual circumstances in your situation that additionally increase your threat, eg. you are a journalist, member of a political party, etc. tell them about it! It is very important that all questions are answered truthfully and completely. If you are in a bad mental state or for any other reason you do not feel up to the details of your story at this point, tell the officer about it and only highlight the most important things, adding that you will tell about all the details during the status interview that will be conducted with you by the Head of the Office for Foreigners in a few weeks or months. Make sure it is written down. If the officer informs you that the space allocated to you in the form for describing the reasons for your fear of persecution is exhausted – you can ask for a piece of paper and a pen and write additional handwritten explanations.
Before signing the form completed by the Border Guard, make sure that the officer wrote down exactly what you wanted to say. Border guards are required to communicate with you during this activity in a language you understand or to arrange for an interpreter to be present. The protocol will be written in Polish, but it should be read to you in a language you understand, you have the right to demand it.
When entering Poland to apply for international protection, you do not need to have a previously organized address of residence. You will have the right to live in a refugee center throughout the international protection process. Currently, many places of stay are organized in Poland for people coming from Ukraine, also outside the refugee centers.
After submitting the application, you must go to the indicated reception center run by the Head of the Office for Foreigners (see below for details) to register for the social and medical assistance system. If you do not want to use (or not immediately) the social assistance of the Office for Foreigners, when applying for protection, you must provide the Border Guard with the address where you will live.
This is very important, because the Head of the Office for Foreigners must have an address to which he will send you correspondence regarding your international protection procedure.