Latest Asylum Trends

June 2022

Source: EUAA EPS, June 2020 – June 2022

© EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries. The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the European Union. The designation "Kosovo" is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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.

EU+ refers to the 27 European Union Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland.

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 at 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.

 

Key Findings

  • In June 2022, some 73 100 asylum applications were lodged in the EU+. This was the second highest level since 2016, only exceeded by the exceptional spike earlier this year immediately after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • Overall in the first half of 2022, EU+ countries received 406 000 asylum applications, up by 68 % compared to the first half of 2021, when some travel restrictions were still in place. Of these applications, 21 700 (5 %) were lodged by Ukrainians, who instead tended to register for temporary protection.
  • By 28 August, some 4.2 million persons fleeing Ukraine had registered for temporary protection in the EU+. Therefore, during the first half of 2022, more people in search of protection have arrived in the EU+ than during the entire so-called refugee crisis of 2015/2016. 
  • In June 2022, Afghans and Syrians lodged the most asylum applications, followed by Venezuelans, Colombians and Pakistanis. Georgians applied the most on record.
  • The increase in asylum applications in the first half of 2022, compared to the first half of 2021, was mainly driven by Afghans, Latin Americans, Ukrainians and citizens of other countries in the eastern and south-eastern vicinity of the EU.
  • Applications by self-claimed unaccompanied minors in June were approaching the peak levels of late 2021.
  • EU+ asylum authorities issued some 57 600 first instance decisions on asylum applications in June, the most in almost two years. So far in 2022, just over 300 000 decisions have been issued, somewhat more than in the first half of 2021 but still lagging behind applications.
  • The EU+ recognition rate remained high at 44 % in June. Positive decisions were almost evenly split between refugee status and subsidiary protection. In the first half of 2022, the EU+ recognition rate was 41 %.
  • In June, recognition rates were especially high for Syrians and Ukrainians (96 % each) as well as for Belarusians, Eritreans, Yemenis and Malians. 
  • Some 509 400 cases were pending at first instance at the end of June. Half of them had been waiting for a decision for less than six months.

Considerably more asylum applications than in 2021

In June 2022, about 73 100 asylum applications were lodged in the EU+, more or less stable from the previous month (+ 4 %).[1] Nevertheless, this was actually the second highest level since the so-called refugee crisis of 2015/2016, briefly exceeded only in March 2022 immediately after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The high level of applications in June continued a general upward trend in recent months, reflected not just by the spike of Ukrainian applicants, but also substantially more applications for a broad range of nationalities. Indeed, compared to the first half of 2021, asylum applications were up by two thirds (68 %) in the first half of 2022: while EU+ countries received some 241 000 applications from January to June 2021, they received some 406 000 over the same period in 2022, of which only 21 700 (5 %) were lodged by Ukrainians. First-time applications were even up by 85 %, i.e. nearly doubled compared to the same period in 2021. More recent preliminary data for the time after June do not indicate a trend reversal.

Unprecedented arrivals of people in search of protection 

In fact, far more persons have recently sought and obtained protection in the EU+ than asylum applications suggest – because persons fleeing Ukraine are eligible for temporary protection status[2] without having to undergo an asylum procedure. By 4 September, some 4.2 million persons had registered for temporary protection in the EU+, roughly 10 times as many as all asylum applications received in the first half of 2022.[3] With such magnitudes, it is already clear that migration to Europe by people in search of protection has reached historic levels in 2022. Even all asylum applications lodged in 2015 and 2016 (some 2.5 million in total), during the so-called refugee crisis, do not nearly approach the combined figures of temporary protection registrations and asylum applications already observed in 2022.

Ukrainians almost exclusively registering for temporary protection

Almost all registrants for temporary protection were Ukrainian nationals, and so asylum applications by Ukrainians declined to about 1 200 in June 2022, the fewest since the beginning of the Russian invasion. In June, Afghans lodged the most asylum applications (some 9 100), followed by Syrians (8 900), Venezuelans (4 800), Colombians (3 900), Pakistanis (3 700) and Turks (3 600). With about 2 600 applications, Georgians applied the most on record,[4] continuing an upward trend in their applications since mid-2020. An EUAA report on migration drivers in Georgia identified the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an important factor.[5]  Tunisians lodged nearly twice as many applications (2 200) compared to May, and a similarly large increase occurred for Indians (see country focus). In contrast, fewer applications than in May were received from Iraqis, Nigerians and Somalis, among others. 

Broad range of nationalities applying more than in 2021

In total, asylum applications in EU+ countries increased by 165 000 in the first half of 2022, compared to the first half of 2021 (+ 68 %). Although Ukrainians lodged many more applications (+ 479 %), they were not the largest contributor to this overall increase. In fact, Afghans contributed most (+ 83 %), as their applications have remained at relatively high levels since the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan in August 2021. In addition, Venezuelans (+ 399 %) and Colombians (+ 298 %) contributed significantly to the overall increase. Together with rising applications by Peruvians, Salvadorians and Cubans, this signalled the return of high application levels for Latin Americans, after they had long remained relatively low following travel restrictions associated with the outbreak of COVID-19. 

Compared to the first half of 2021, applications were also substantially higher for some countries of origin in the eastern and south-eastern vicinity of the EU, notably Turkey (+ 132 %), Georgia (+ 173 %), Albania (+ 104 %), Russia (+ 93 %) and Moldova (+ 126 %) as well as, on a smaller scale, Belarus, Armenia and North Macedonia. Alongside Tunisians (+ 150 %), Egyptians (+ 226 %) applied far more than in the first half of 2021. An EUAA report on migration drivers in Egypt pointed to economic factors such as the search for employment.[6] Increases were moderate for most other African countries of origin and declines occurred for some Western African countries of origin (Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal). In general, applications declined for only few nationalities, but this notably included Syrians (- 7 %) who lodged more first-time but far less repeated applications so far in 2022 than in the first half of 2021.

Unaccompanied minors approaching peak levels of late 2021 

Some 3 200 applicants in June were self-claimed unaccompanied minors (UAMs), up by 11 % from May. This was the most so far in 2022 and approached the peak levels in the last quarter of 2021, when between 3 200 and 3 400 UAMs applied every month. The increase from May was mainly due to UAMs from Afghanistan (some 1 500) and Syria (600), and Afghans continued to represent by far the largest group of UAMs (see country focus). In addition, Egyptian and Tunisian UAMs applied the most on record in June (about 100 and 50, respectively, the most since at least 2014). Compared to the first half of 2021, applications by Afghan UAMs were up by 86 % and at least doubled for UAMs from Syria, Somalia, Egypt, Eritrea and Tunisia. However, UAMs overall accounted for 4 % of all applicants, both in June 2022 and June 2021.

 

Focus on selected countries of origin of applicants

  • Afghanistan – In June, Afghans lodged the most asylum applications in the EU+, more than 9 100. This was roughly stable compared to May but significantly more than in April, when Afghans lodged the fewest applications since the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan in August 2021. Since January 2022, EU+ countries have received some 8 600 applications per month on average.

    As previously, around nine in every 10 Afghan applications were lodged for the first time, suggesting that they were newly arrived in the EU+ country in question. Nearly 1 500 or more than 16 % of all applicants were unaccompanied minors (UAMs), which was the most so far this year both in absolute and relative terms. Indeed, Afghans continued to account for around half of all UAMs applying in the EU+. 

    Afghan applicants received some 8 200 decisions at first instance in June 2022, the most since December 2017. Although this was still below the number of applications lodged, the level of Afghan cases awaiting a decision at first instance decreased in June, for the second consecutive month. Nevertheless, the level of pending cases remained high, at 68 800 at the end of June. Cases pending for more than six months decreased for the first time since September 2021, but they still accounted for more than half of all pending cases in June (where information on the duration is available).

    The EU+ recognition rate for Afghans continued decreasing and reached the lowest level in a year, at 51 %. Since the Taliban take-over, the share of positive decisions that grant refugee status has evolved from 49 % in August 2021 to 89 % in June 2022.

  • Tunisia – In June, Tunisians were the eighth largest group applying for international protection in the EU+, with some 2 200 applications lodged. This was the most applications by Tunisians on record, i.e. since the beginning of the EPS data exchange in 2014, and represented a sharp increase by 80 % compared to the previous month. In fact, by June, Tunisian applications had tripled since the beginning of 2022, rising steadily every month since February. Nearly all Tunisians in June were first-time applicants, in line with the last six months. Very few Tunisian applicants (2 %) were UAMs.

    Since June 2020, Tunisian asylum applications have constantly exceeded first instance decisions on Tunisian cases. In June 2022, this difference extended threefold even though more first instance decisions were issued than the month before. In fact, the 1 100 first instance decisions issued in June represented the most monthly decisions since at least 2014. Cases pending at first instance have tripled over a year, reaching some 4 300 at the end of June. The EU+ recognition rate for Tunisians was 2 % in June, fluctuating between 2 % and 7 % since January 2022.

  • India – In June, Indians lodged close to 1 400 applications, increasing for the fourth month in a row and climbing to the most on record (i.e. since at least 2014). In fact, there were five times as many Indian applications as a year ago in June 2021. After moderate increases from March to May 2022, a large increase occurred in June 2022 (+ 77 % from May). Nevertheless, Indian nationals represented just 2 % of the applicants in the EU+.

    Nearly all Indian applications were lodged for the first time. Whereas the number of first-time applications has been steadily growing since the beginning of 2021, repeated applications remained at the same level (around 20) up to May 2022 but then suddenly increased to more than 100 in June. Some eight UAMs from India applied for asylum in the EU+ in June. In fact, since the beginning of the EPS data collection in 2014, UAMs accounted for only about 1 % of the Indian applications for international protection.

    For the eighth consecutive month, applications lodged exceeded first instance decisions on Indian cases. The difference between the two widened from about 60 in November 2021 to about 860 in June 2022. The number of pending Indian cases increased to 2 900 at the end of June, the most in nearly 18 months. The EU+ recognition rate for Indians was 0 % in June, in line with generally low values in recent months.

 

First instance decisions rising but lagging behind applications

EU+ asylum authorities continued to issue more first instance decisions, rising to 57 600 in June, the highest level in almost two years and up by 7 % from May. As in previous months, Syrians received the most decisions in June (about 11 900), followed by Afghans (8 200, the most since late 2017) and Venezuelans (2 600). After a peak in May, decisions on Ukrainian asylum applications (1 200) receded somewhat but remained relatively high. Compared to the first half of 2021, decisions issued to Afghans, Iraqis and Somalis were up by around half in the first half of 2022. They increased even more for Georgians (+ 79 %), Albanians (+ 100 %), Tunisians (+ 332 %), Belarusians (+ 246 %) and citizens of North Macedonia (+ 357 %). In contrast, Colombians received only about half as many decisions as in the first half of last year. 

So far in 2022, EU+ countries have issued just over 300 000 decisions at first instance, somewhat more than in the first half of 2021 (269 000). There were substantially more decisions on first-time applications but fewer decisions on repeated applications in the same EU+ country. Applications lodged so far in 2022 exceeded first instance decisions by more than 100 000, whereas decisions had in fact exceeded applications in the first half of 2021. As of June 2022, the gap between applications and decisions showed no signs of closing.

The EU+ recognition rate remains close to its highest point since 2017

The EU+ recognition rate was 44 % in June, more or less stable from May (45 %) when the EU+ recognition rate was at the highest point since early 2017 (apart from April 2020). The EU+ recognition rate for the first half of 2022 was 41 %, compared to 31 % in the same period a year earlier. For the EU+ recognition rate, only decisions that granted refugee status and subsidiary protection are considered positive, in contrast to decisions granting humanitarian protection under national law that are not considered to be part of the Common European Asylum System. The number of applicants receiving subsidiary protection (some 12 100) also remained close to the unusually high level in May. With about 13 000 applicants receiving refugee status, positive decisions were almost evenly split between subsidiary protection and refugee status.

In June, Syrians and Ukrainians continued to have very high recognition rates (96 % each). Most positive decisions issued to Syrians and nearly all issued to Ukrainians granted subsidiary protection, which led to the high share of subsidiary protection overall. Recognition rates were also especially high for Belarusians (93 %), Eritreans (85 %), Yemenis (83 %) and Malians (66 %). They were especially low for citizens of India (0 %), Moldova and North Macedonia (1 % each) as well as Tunisia (2 %). 

Stable number of pending cases at first instance 

Based on the latest available data, about 858 300 cases were pending at all instances in the EU+ at the end of May 2022.[7] This was the most in 19 months, following a steady upward trend in recent months. A year earlier, in May 2021, some 787 100 cases had been awaiting a decision. Since then, pending cases at all instances have increased by roughly a tenth. Cases pending at first instance – those that are still being processed by asylum authorities, not including those that are open in appeal or review (second and higher instances) – increased substantially more, by two fifths between May 2021 and May 2022.[8]

At the end of June 2022, EU+ countries reported some 509 400 cases pending at first instance,[9] essentially stable from May (+ 1 %) but still up by two fifths from June 2021. Cases pending for up to six months accounted for one half of all cases pending at first instance. Most cases pending at first instance concerned Afghans (14 %), followed by Syrians (12 %), Venezuelans (7 %) and Colombians (5 %). During the first half of 2022, pending cases linked to Venezuelans and Colombians roughly doubled and those linked to Ukrainians more than tripled.