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18.07.22

The European Network on Statelessness, of which CF “Right to Protection” is a member, recently published BRIEFING #3: Protection gaps for stateless refugees from Ukraine.

In this briefing, ENS draws attention to some of the main challenges on the protection of stateless persons (SPs):

  • In some countries, including France, Portugal, Switzerland, and the UK, it is still unclear whether all those fleeing Ukraine may enter the territory regardless of documentation status.
  • No country has extended eligibility to all stateless people and those at risk of statelessness to include those who cannot prove prior legal residence in Ukraine.
  • Reports are continuing to emerge of antigypsyism and discrimination in access to the territory, temporary protection, services, and support faced by Romani people fleeing Ukraine including in Poland, Moldova, and the Czech Republic. 
  • There is very limited data on the nationality status of refugees from Ukraine. There are issues with identification of nationality or statelessness at border crossings and registration points and problems with how nationality data is recorded during birth registration procedures, which creates an additional risk of new cases of statelessness emerging among children whose nationality is not being accurately determined at birth.

To address these issues, ENS provides recommendations for key stakeholders in the briefing, including that EU Member States and other European States should extend temporary forms of protection to all stateless people and those with undetermined nationality who cannot meet current eligibility requirements, due to their statelessness or documentation status, and that the European Commission should revise the Operational Guidelines for implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive to better address the particular protection needs of stateless people. 

The team of the CF “Right to Protection” draws attention to the fact that the statelessness determination procedure in Ukraine is young – it has been in operation since May 2021, and not everyone is aware of existence of stateless persons recognised under the procedure. The statelessness determination procedure remains operational even during martial law in Ukraine, and the number of recognised SPs is gradually increasing (according to official data and as stated by UNHCR, as of 30 June  2022, 270 people were recognised as stateless  and at least 500 applications are under consideration). Among them are people who fled to Europe as a result of the armed invasion of the Russian Federation after February 24.

STATELESS PERSONS RECOGNISED UNDER THE UKRAINIAN STATELESSNESS DETERMINATION PROCEDURE:

1) have a temporary residence permit and due to their legal status are not considered permanent residents of Ukraine;

2) do not have another document certifying their identity (e.g. passport or identity card), because such a document is not provided for by law;

3) most likely, after recognition as stateless, they did not have time to obtain a travel document for stateless persons;

4) may only obtain statelessness status under the procedure in Ukraine after leaving Ukraine, which must be taken into account by the authorities of the host state, but which in no case should be a reason for canceling statelessness status in Ukraine;

5) do not have a country of origin as such, and were first recognised as stateless in Ukraine and documented in accordance with Ukrainian legislation. More about the peculiarities of documenting SPs from Ukraine in this link;

6) don’t have a legally established procedure to return to Ukraine if they do not possess a stateless person travel document (nor do people with undetermined nationality who fled Ukraine after 24 of February).

According to ENS, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and Spain have specified that people recognised as stateless under Ukraine’s statelessness determination procedure are eligible for temporary protection, while in other countries this is still unclear. This practice is a positive example of granting protection to SPs who were forced to leave Ukraine due to the war. CF “Right to Protection” supports ENS’ recommendations to EU member states, European states and the European Commission, and calls on the Government of Ukraine to continue informing the latter about the statelessness determination procedure in Ukraine.

26.04.22

According to UNHCR there are 35 thousands persons with undetermined nationality and stateless persons in Ukraine. These people remain invisible to the state and cannot exercise their rights to education and health care, inherit, open a bank account, register marriage, cross borders freely, and so on (more about the statelessness problem in Ukraine in the material).

In 2021 Ukraine introduced a statelessness determination procedure (hereinafter – SDP) and during 2021 55 persons were recognised as stateless persons. More than 700 other applications have remained pending in the State Migration Service as of 24 of February. 

In March and April 2022 beneficiaries of Right to Protection, who fled Ukraine to the European Union countries (Poland, Germany, Spain), contacted  our lawyers  to inquire what protection and legal status they may obtain in the EU.

1. A person having “stateless person’s travel document”, who have fled  Ukraine on or after 24 February 2022, as a result of the military invasion by Russian armed forces that began on that date, according to the Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382 of 4 March 2022 establishing the existence of a mass influx of displaced persons from Ukraine within the meaning of Article 5 of Directive 2001/55/EC, and having the effect of introducing temporary protection (hereinafter – Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382) have a right to obtain temporary protection as a person who benefited from international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine before 24 February 2022.


2. A stateless person, recognised under the Ukrainian SDP and in possession of only a temporary residence permit may have legal difficulties in obtaining temporary protection in an EU Member State. Ukrainian law stipulates that a person recognised as a stateless person must be documented by usual temporary residence permit without issuance of any other identity document (like certificate of a stateless person etc.). More details about documentation peculiarities of stateless persons in Ukraine can be found in the report.

According to the Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382 the temporary protection shall be applied to “b) stateless persons, and nationals of third countries other than Ukraine, who benefited from international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine before 24 February 2022; and,….Member States shall apply either this Decision or adequate protection under their national law, in respect of stateless persons, and nationals of third countries other than Ukraine, who can prove that they were legally residing in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 on the basis of a valid permanent residence permit issued in accordance with Ukrainian law, and who are unable to return in safe and durable conditions to their country or region of origin.”

According to Communication from the Commission on Operational guidelines for the implementation of Council implementing Decision 2022/382 establishing the existence of a mass influx of displaced persons from Ukraine within the meaning of Article 5 of Directive 2001/55/EC, and having the effect of introducing temporary protection Commission is currently gathering information from Ukrainian authorities regarding the forms of protection under Ukrainian law and the documents issued by Ukrainian authorities to beneficiaries of such forms of protection. From the preliminary information received, the documents issued by Ukraine are: a ‘travel document for persons granted complementary protection’, a ‘stateless person’s travel document’, and a ‘certificate for persons granted complementary protection’.”

Thus, a foreigner who fled Ukraine and has only a temporary residence permit must confirm benefiting from equivalent national protection in Ukraine, otherwise he/she may not be granted a temporary protection in a respective EU Member State. At the same time stateless persons from Ukraine may flee without a travel document of a stateless person, having only a temporary residence permit (they simply haven’t applied for a travel document).

The following documents may confirm the equivalent form of protection for the stateless persons in Ukraine (1) temporary residence permit issued to the stateless person in accordance with Article 6-1 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons” (as a result of SDP); 

This card looks like a usual temporary residence permit issued in Ukraine to a foreigner, except in the column “Nationality” there is an abbreviation “ОБГ” that stands for Ukrainian “особа без громадянства” – in English literary “a person without nationality” or a stateless person. 

(2) temporary residence permit for a stateless person issued on the basis of the Law of Ukraine “On Immigration”. This document may be in the form of a book, issued to some stateless persons indefinitely after 2001.

Alternatively, the document below was issued in Crimea in 2004 by a form, which does not completely comply with the legislation of Ukraine as of 2004. But it is impossible now to confirm issuance of documents in Crimea before 2014 and, subsequently,  people are de facto compelled  to live with such a document. The data was filled in Russian and Russian abbreviation “ЛБГ” is identical to Ukrainian “ОБГ” – a person without nationality (stateless person).

3. Applicants of statelessness determination procedure from Ukraine cannot be granted temporary protection according to the Council Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/382 because they have not yet received the equivalent protection in Ukraine and they don’t have a residence permit in Ukraine, they are considered as temporary legally residing in Ukraine during the procedure.

Most of these people are stateless or at risk of statelessness, who have been waiting for the SDP for many years or all their lives. Ideally, these people should be granted temporary protection as well. At least, they should receive professional legal consultation regarding legal status they may obtain  in the relevant EU Member State , including access to the SDP  and access to asylum procedure.  The list of organisations in neighbouring countries that provide advice and assistance for stateless people fleeing Ukraine is available on the website of European Network on Statelessness by link: https://www.statelessness.eu/statelessness-ukraine-crisis

Another problem is that applicants for the Ukrainian SDP who fled Ukraine are now concerned whether they could return to Ukraine after the war. They have obtained certificates on application for recognition as a stateless person. 

It may be concluded that a certain number of stateless persons and SDP applicants fled Ukraine after February 24 and need special attention to be paid by the EU and its Member States given the peculiarities of documentation in Ukraine. However, some of the Right to Protection beneficiaries, who are not applicants for the Ukrainian SDP, have left Ukraine without any identity documents. They don’t have a passport or their nationality is undefined, but they probably possess some documents, for example, a birth certificate, a UNHCR Protection letter, a USSR passport or USSR travel document, a certificate issued by the foreign consulate confirming they are or are not a citizen of the relevant State, other certificates or copies of documents. 

The mentioned group of persons should be provided with free legal assistance in order to obtain nationality or apply for a recognition as a refugee or a stateless person. There is no official data on the amount of persons with undefined nationality living in Ukraine and how many of them fled Ukraine after February 24. But these people were allowed to cross the Ukrainian border, some of them crossed other EU Member States’ borders afterwards. 

For additional information on Ukrainian legislation relating to nationality, statelessness determination procedure and legal status of stateless persons in Ukraine, European lawyers and NGOs are encouraged to apply to “Right to Protection” by email sta@r2p.org.ua.


07.02.22

In Autumn 2020 Armen contacted the Kharkiv office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P). His hope faded a long time ago since he had tried to get a passport or at least some document proving his identity and status for many years already.

Life without a passport and/or documents

The man signed agreements with several lawyers, yet all their attempts were unsuccessful.  When he was in total despair, the State Migration Service of Ukraine advised him to turn to the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P).

Armen’s life story is full of troubles. Armenian by nationality, he was born in 1958 in Azerbaijan (back then – a soviet republic, – ed. note).

He grew up there, graduated from school, received a passport of a citizen of the USSR, and served in the Soviet Army. He was stationed in the Zhytomyr region and has since fallen in love with Ukraine, where he then moved into later in his life. After the Army, he worked in Azerbaijan, then graduated from the Kharkiv Fire and Technical School in 1985. Three years later he married and became a father of his daughter. But in 1990, due to ethnopolitical conflict, the family was forced to flee their home and, after a series of relocations, in January 1991 settled in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

A long time Armen lived with a passport of a citizen of the USSR. His wife and daughter received Ukrainian citizenship and passports, and a son was born… But Armen did not have time to obtain the passport of Ukraine, the country of which he always considered himself a citizen: in the early 2000s, all his documents were stolen. For about 20 years Armen has been living without documents.

Lawyers get to work

Analyzing the actual life circumstances described by Armen, the lawyer of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), Oksana Zhelanova, came to the conclusion that it is not technically possible to establish Armen’s Ukraine’s citizenship. Therefore, the man is a stateless person and can acquire Ukrainian citizenship by territorial origin on the basis of permanent residence in Ukraine until August 24, 1991.

Since the procedure of documenting stateless persons in Ukraine had not been working at the time of Armen’s application to the R2P, it was decided to use the waiting time and prepare for acquiring Ukrainian citizenship by territorial origin. After making a number of lawyer’s inquiries and gathering the necessary evidence, the lawyer prepared a statement to the court to establish the fact of Armen’s residence on the territory of Ukraine until August 24, 1991. In May 2021, the decision of the Zhovtnevyi District Court of Kharkiv established this fact.

Stateless Determination Procedure: A New Hope

When the procedure of documenting stateless persons was finally approved by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 317 and started working in full force, specialists of the Novobavarskyi branch of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region successfully accepted an application from Armen to recognize him as a stateless person.

There is still a long way to go: for the SMS it’s lots of hard work, for Armen – waiting. But Armen, who holds the first official document received in Ukraine, is already seeing the light ahead and hopes to hold the coveted passport of a country that sheltered his family, which he has considered home for many years, by the end of the year.

We will accompany him on this difficult path to the realization of a dream, and express our sincere gratitude to the employees of the State Migration Service of Ukraine – Iryna Kalyna, Tetyana Korobkova, and Natalia Kushnir for their high competence and human-centered approach in addressing the issue of statelessness.

20 років без документів. Історія Армена

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10.01.22

One may not call the situation “easy” when a person is not recognized as a citizen of any country in the world, has no documents and even legal right to stay on the territory of Ukraine, despite the fact of living here for a long time. However, lawyers of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) are not afraid of any “difficult cases” and never refuse to help beneficiaries.

For the past year, the specialists of the R2P Team have helped 94 undocumented persons to apply to the State Migration Service of Ukraine for the stateless determination procedure (SDP). We still continue to work with all of them, as this is only the first step in a complex and lengthy procedure. Nevertheless, these people now can stay on the territory of Ukraine legally and at least have some documents.

Statelessness: Ukraine became the 21st country in the world and the 15th in Europe to establish a separate Stateless Determination Procedure (SDP) Без громадянства: Україна cтала 21-ю країною в світі і 15-ю — в Європі, яка має окрему процедуру визнання ОБГ

“The goal of our Project is to prevent and eliminate statelessness. In other words, applying to the SMS of Ukraine is just the beginning of a long journey that a person begins with our help. Seven of our beneficiaries have already been granted stateless status and documented by temporary residence permits in Ukraine. The next steps are to obtain a permanent residence permit and in the future – acquire Ukrainian citizenship. So we continue to work with them, “

– says Sofiia Kordonets, Manager of the R2P Project “Legal assistance to stateless persons in Ukraine”.

Consideration of an application for stateless status lasts 6 months and can be extended up to 12 months. The result should be the granting or denial of a status.

In Ukraine, the procedure is relatively new (the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers came into force only in April 2021), so as of now there were no precedents of refusals, as well as cases of fines for illegal stay in Ukraine.

status Як звернутися з заявою про визнання особою без громадянства?

In total, by the end of 2021, 728 applications for recognition as stateless persons were received by the State Migration Service within Ukraine.

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06.01.22

Winter Holidays Season is full of miracles! And sometimes, the specialists of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) become the ones who make it happen. One of such miracles is the story we will tell you today. It is the story of Borys, who received his first passport as a citizen of Ukraine at the age of 25.

Without family and documents

Borys was born and raised in Crimea, Ukraine. When the boy was 16 years old, his parents decided to live apart. As a result, the father and son (Borys) moved to the Poltava region to work and live. The father planned to document his son with a Ukrainian passport for the first time.

However, it happened so that at the end of April 2013, the father suddenly died, leaving the boy without documents and the opportunity to return to his mother, sister, and brother in Crimea.

Now Borys was on his own with all the life problems. He repeatedly applied to the State Migration Service to obtain a passport of a citizen of Ukraine, but he was denied admission, citing the fact that it is extremely difficult to establish his identity because he spent all his life in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the temporarily occupied territory. The State Migration Service of Ukraine demanded the presence of the mother, who flatly refused to come. And there were also some questions about his citizenship…

The New Life

During this time, the boy grew up, moved to Kharkiv, where he found a job, fell in love, and began to live as a married person with his beloved girl (ed. note – unofficially, civil marriage, since he had no documents). Borys decided to apply to the State Migration Service again. The Kholodnohirsky branch of the State Migration Service in Kharkiv recommended Borys to apply to the Charitable Fund “Right to Protection” (R2P).

After a long conversation with a beneficiary, the lawyer of the Fund made several inquiries, prepared all the necessary documents. Together with Borys our colleague found and prepared witnesses for the identification procedure, identified the possibility, and jointly with Maria Kovalenko, the Acting Head of the Kholodnohirsky Department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU) in Kharkiv, confirmed that Borys belonged to Ukraine.

Now we just have to wait for the approval of the Head Departments of the SMSU in the Kharkiv region.

Passport: the best New Year gift

Meanwhile, Borys became a father of a son! But he dreamed of being a father not just biologically, but officially, according to the law.

And then – a miracle happened: a few days after the birth of the baby Borys received his first passport! His dream became real.

Новорічне диво для Бориса: отримати паспорт та офіційно стати батьком

Congratulating the young man on such a significant and pleasant change in his life, Oksana Zhelanova, a lawyer at the R2P, explained where and how young parents can register their son’s birth and how Borys can be registered as a child’s father since he is now a citizen of Ukraine.

The next day, Borys happily told that the couple successfully registered the birth of a son and received a birth certificate.

The CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) wishes the young family health, wealth, and happiness. And to all of us we wish to believe in miracles – they actually happen!

At the same time, we express our sincere gratitude to the staff of the Kholodnohirsky Department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region for indifference and constant readiness to help people. We also thank the leadership of the SMSU in the Kharkiv region for their high competence and wise personnel policy.

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21.12.21

A tired elderly woman was crying near the Hoptivka Border Checkpoint. When our colleague, monitor Valeria Samarska, finally managed to calm her down, she told a sad story…

Ms. Lyubov Volodymyrivna is 70 years old and lives in the territory temporarily out of Ukraine’s control. Due to a mistake of the Pension Fund, she was forced to urgently come to Kyiv, and from there – to Kharkiv. Having spent almost her entire monthly pension on the trip, the woman hurried home. She decided to go through the Goptivka checkpoint, where, as her acquaintances told, there were smaller queues.

In the hustle and bustle, Ms. Lyubov lost her passport to travel abroad. Therefore, when the monitor of our Fund saw her, the woman was in complete despair. Ms. Lyubov had no idea where to turn, what to do and how to get home. Our colleague calmed the woman down and started to be active.

Thanks to the coordinated cooperation of the monitor Valeriia Samarska with the lawyer of the project “Legal assistance to stateless persons in Ukraine” Oksana Zhelanova and representative of the management of the Kholodnohirsk Department of the State Migration Service Of Ukraine Maria Kovalenko, woman applied for loss of passport of a citizen of Ukraine for travel abroad. As a result, the woman’s citizenship was confirmed and all necessary procedures were urgently carried out.

Passport Втратила паспорт намагаючись відновити пенсійні виплати. Історія Любові Володимирівни

Soon, Mrs. Lyubov will be able to get a new passport. We hope that there will be no more reasons for the woman to cry again. Good luck!

CF “Right to Protection” (R2P), in turn, expresses our sincere gratitude to the leadership of the Kholodnohirsky department of the State Migration Service of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region for conscientious fulfillment of the requirements of the current legislation and their official duties. We also thank the leadership of the Migration Service of the Kharkiv region for effective cooperation in providing assistance to the people.

Project “Legal assistance to stateless persons in Ukraine” is implemented by the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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16.12.21

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has just adopted the Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine“ On Citizenship of Ukraine “on Simplified Acquisition of Citizenship of Ukraine by Certain Categories of Persons” (Bill №5630).

The draft introduces a number of important amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship of Ukraine”, in particular to Article 9 on the citizenship of Ukraine.

When the Law enters into force (after it will be signed by the President of Ukraine), stateless persons will have the opportunity to be granted Ukrainian citizenship three years after being officially recognized as a stateless person through the Stateless Determination Procedure.

The current Law of Ukraine “On Citizenship of Ukraine” does not provide for a separate procedure for naturalization of the officially recognized stateless persons, and the general approach to citizenship of Ukraine is possible only if the person continuously resided in Ukraine for the last 5 years. In addition, due to the peculiarities of the legal status of the stateless persons, which are recognized in Ukraine under the new procedure, there are no rules that would clearly define what exactly should be included in these five years.

The new law clearly states that for stateless persons, the period of continuous legal residence on the territory of Ukraine must be three years from the date of recognition.

R2P LOGO ENGLISH

The CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) will soon provide more information on key changes to the legislation on Ukrainian citizenship and its possible positive impact on documentation procedures.

  • Watch the video about the first person, who was officially recognized as stateless in Ukraine and received her first identity document (in Ukrainian).
  • More details on the Stateless Determination Procedure (SDP) in Ukraine.
  • On the recent changes in the procedure for obtaining a passport of a citizen of Ukraine: will the procedure for identifying a person become easier? (in Ukrainian)
14.12.21

This year, 83 applicants, accompanied by lawyers and attorneys of the R2P team, submitted their documents for the Stateless Determination Procedure (SDP). This has been made possible thanks to the effective cooperation with the State Migration Service of Ukraine (SMSU).

On December 2, during an online meeting with the representatives of the State Migration Service of the Kyiv Region, specialists of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) spoke about the legal assistance to the stateless persons and about the ways to solve problems in non-standard cases.

The event was joined by the employees of the SMS, including Olga Valetenko, Deputy Director of the Department, Head of the Temporary and Permanent Residence of Foreigners, and Stateless Persons of the State Migration Service of Ukraine.

Lawyers and advocates of the R2P Sofiia Kordonets, Victoria Volynska, Alexandra Aivazian, Konstiantyn Funzhyi, and Kseniia Karahiaur shared their own experience in this area and spoke about:

  • The main categories of persons applying for the Stateless Determination Procedure (SDP);
  • Challenges when submitting applications for an SDP;
  • Ways to facilitate the application for recognition of stateless persons in non-standard cases.

Since April 2021, every person who can’t get a passport due to not being considered a citizen of any country, has the right to apply to the State Migration Service of Ukraine to become recognized as a stateless person.

Due to the implementation of an SDP, the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) is holding its third event at the regional level with the representatives of the SMS of Ukraine.

The Team of the Fund plans to continue to meet with the government officials and other agencies to establish effective cooperation in this area, as well as to raise awareness and share the information about the new Stateless Determination Procedure.

Спільними зусиллями долаємо безгромадянство

Our team is sincerely grateful to the participants for their interest in the topic and for their active participation in the event! We look forward to continuing our cooperation.


USEFUL THEMATIC MATERIALS:


Project “Legal assistance to stateless persons in Ukraine” is implemented by the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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01.12.21

In the 1990s, the company where Oleh worked experienced an economic downturn, wages were paid only partially, and there was barely enough money to buy food. The man began working informally at various private enterprises. While looking for a new job, he lost his passport, birth certificate, and employment record. Later, the man decided to return to Kreminna.

Oleh repeatedly applied to the local Department of the Migration Service for a new passport but was always denied due to lack of documents and inability to prove Ukrainian citizenship. He tried to get a birth certificate again, but could not do so without a passport. Each unsuccessful attempt disappointed him more and more.

One day, Oleh’s best friend offered him to turn to the specialists of the Kreminna Free Legal Aid Bureau. There, the man told his story to the specialists, who then redirected him to the office of the CF “Right to Protection” (R2P) in Severodonetsk.

Serhii Mikhailov, the lawyer of the R2P, took up the job. It was not easy to prove that the man lived in Ukraine as of August 24, 1991, as well as to collect all the required documents to support this fact. All because the enterprises where Oleh worked changed their names many times, created private cooperatives, and information about the periods of work was not passed to the labor archives. And the house where the man lived at that time became a property of the private enterprise, so the information from the archives of registered residents was lost forever.

Yet the perseverance and a desire to help can move mountains. Documents about the place of residence were found, our lawyer immediately applied to the Kreminna district court of the Luhansk region. The witness also further confirmed the fact that Oleh lived in Ukraine as of August 24, 1991. As a result, the court sided with our beneficiary.

Finally, after so many years of suffering and exile, Oleh received a passport of a citizen of Ukraine. Now the man is discovering new horizons of life. He has already received a tax identification number, opened a bank account, and plans to become officially employed. This is what he says about his new official legal status:

“A passport is when you exist and when everyone sees you!”

Паспорт

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