Temporary protection or refugee status. Facts for Ukrainians in the EU to know

Temporary protection or refugee status. Facts for Ukrainians in the EU to know 1536 768 Опанас Карлін

The migration of Ukrainians (mostly women and children) to EU countries helps to ensure the сalm of the defenders of the homeland for their relatives. Due to numerous questions of clients it is considered appropriate to cover the following questions. 


Most of the available advice and manuals for migrants are based on the well-established practice of granting refugee status (1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees) or other types of “legalization”. Due to these explanations, we can conclude that the migration processes in the EU countries are too complicated, lengthy, sometimes unpredictable and expensive (if you use the services of lawyers). Fortunately, all these procedures are not relevant to the needs of Ukrainians in these turbulent times, so we advise you not to use the recommendations posted online before 04.03.2022.

Unchanged positions 

As before, Ukrainians do not need visas to enter and stay in the Schengen area for 90 days in any 180-day period. 

Implemented changes 

Back in 2001, Regulation No. 2001/55 / EC of 20.07.2001 on temporary protection was approved (on the minimum standards for granting temporary protection in the event of a massive influx of displaced populations, measures contributing to balancing the efforts of Member States to accept such persons and further consequences), which has never been applied before. 

The decision of the EU Council No. 2022/382 as of 03/04/2022 recognized the presence of a massive influx of displaced population from Ukraine and introduced their temporary protection. 

Temporary protection 

Temporary protection is a type of international protection that must be distinguished from refugee status.

The institute of temporary protection is new. Its disadvantage is its temporary nature: it was introduced for a year with the possibility of extension twice for 6 months and by a separate decision for one more year (up to 3 years on average), and can also be terminated ahead of schedule. The obvious benefits are:

  • Simplicity of acquisition: simplified and accelerated procedure, minimum of documents. 
  • Choice of the EU country of at your own disctration (it is not necessary to stay in the first safe country and/or explain the choice of the country).
  • range of powers that are granted immediately.

Basicaly, leaving the territory of Ukraine, for example through Poland, you can change the EU countries of your choice within 90 days and stay in the one where, in your opinion, it will be more convenient and safer. It is in this country that you should register to receive temporary protection.

Temporary protection includes: 

  • residence permit with the right to work as a contract employee or a natural person-entrepreneur;
  • the right to education, vocational training;
  • social assistance and adequate housing;
  • medical care.

Assistance Procedures 

A number of EU countries provide free rail travel for Ukrainians. 

At first, volunteers and public organizations can help provide travel, temporary housing, food and clothing (look for relevant groups in instant messengers and social networks). Also on this account, you can refer to the mission of the Red Cross.

As a rule, different organizations are responsible for registration of legalization and assiatance. As an example in Spain the legalization of Ukrainians (the delay in the application and the issuance of a document with an identification number (NIE) is carried out by the police, and financial assistance is provided by the municipalities. Medical insurance (SIP) is granted by healthcentre.

How to choose a country 

It should be noted that temporary protection must be provided by every EU member state (except of Denmark). However, the EU Regulation does not apply in other Schengen countries (Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland). These countries decide independently on the order and number of refugees from Ukraine, which they are ready to accept. However, each EU member state adopts its own regulations on the basis of the EU Regulation, and the scope, duration and procedure for granting temporary protection may differ. For example, countries such as Poland and Germany have adopted relevant regulations from the first days and are actively providing assistance to temporarily displaced populations. They were later joined by Slovakia and Portugal. Spain published its rules only on March 10, 2022, and so far no one knows how they will be implemented. 

The amount of assistance may also differ depending on the capabilities of the country.

The current employment prospects, as well as the education and socialization of children, should also be taken into account (free public / municipal schools usually provide education in the official language of the country concerned). 

Perhaps one should acquire the refugee status? 

Individuals may still claim for specific refugee status in individual cases, but currently it is not appropriate. Obtaining temporary protection does not prevent from the submission of a subsequent application for refugee status. At the same time, it should be taken into account that the complex and lengthy process of obtaining refugee status will be complicated by the number of displaced persons from Ukraine and the involvement of specialized experts in the direction of providing temporary protection. 

In general, the differences between refugee status and temporary protection are as follows: 

Type of international protection  Refugee  Temporary protection 
Legal grounds  UN Convention (Geneva Convention) of 1951 year and Protocol of 1967 year, Dublin Convention of 1990 year  EU Directive №2001 / 55 / EC as of 20.07.2001 and Council Decision №2022 / 382 as of 04.03.2022 
Actual grounds  Reasonable fears of being persecuted on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion in the country of nationality or former residence  Mass influx of displaced population 

recorded by the EU Council 

Evidence of grounds for protection  It is necessary to describe in detail the circumstances that will be assessed in each case  The fact is established, no proof is required 
Persons applying for protection  Citizens of any country, stateless persons  Citizens of Ukraine, persons who legally resided in Ukraine until February 24, 2022 
Country of protection  The first safe country the person crossed the border from, or the country of residence of a family member  Any EU country (except Denmark). The EU Regulation is not applied in other countries of the Schengen area (Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland) 
Protection period  As a rule, this is a lengthy process, ending with the acquisition of citizenship.  A year with the possibility of automatic renewal twice in 6 months, and after that an extension may be offered for onemore year (may be terminated ahead of schedule) 
Restrictions on movement  


Prior to registration (about 6 months) binding to the country in which the application was submitted. In some countries it is not allowed to change the place of residence.   Possibility to travel to EU countries and travel to other countries before and after granting temporary protection by one of the EU countries 
Access work  After registration (about 6 months)  Immediately 

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