Receiving a negative decision
If the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) rejects your asylum application, they will send you a letter inviting you to pick up a copy of your negative decision. It is important to get this copy: You need it to appeal your decision.
The decision will explain the reasons your application was rejected. Since the decision is in Bulgarian, you have a right to an interpreter at the time you receive the document.
The interpreter will help you understand the reasons your application was rejected. Often, the reason is that SAR did not find your application credible. Try to stay calm while you learn the reasons for your rejection.
Before you leave, you and your interpreter will sign the rejection document. Make sure the date on the document is correct, and don't forget to take a copy.
Right to appeal
You are entitled to appeal your rejection before a court. You will have either 7 or 14 days to appeal. Your deadline to appeal will appear on the last page of your rejection document.
If you miss that deadline, there is nothing that you can do about it – your rejection becomes final.
If you submit an appeal on time, you keep all your rights as an asylum-seeker until the court reaches a final decision on your appeal. This includes the right to accommodation and the right to renew your registration card.
Getting a lawyer
Your first step to appealing is to seek legal help.
Your lawyer will further explain the reasons for your rejection. Together you should address these reasons in the appeal. Make sure that you understand what is written in the appeal before you submit it, and take an active role in preparing it.
You should write your address on the appeal. The court will use this address to communicate with you, so make sure it is correct.
Submitting an appeal
You and your lawyer should submit your appeal through SAR.
You should bring 3 original copies of the appeal: One copy is for the court, another copy is for SAR, and the third copy is for you.
On your copy, SAR should put a stamp with the date that you submitted the appeal. Make sure that the date is correct and keep this copy, as this is your only proof that you appealed on time.
SAR should send the appeal to the Regional Administrative Court within 3 days of receiving it. If there is a delay, you should present your stamped copy of the appeal to the court and ask it to require SAR to send your file.
A special official from the court will come to give you a notice with the date of your court hearing.
Regional Administrative Court judgement
You are entitled to a language interpreter during the court hearing. Language interpretation is free of charge for you.
After the hearing, it usually takes about a month for the court to issue a judgment. The court judgment will either repeal or confirm SAR's decision.
Either you or SAR can appeal the judgment before the Supreme Administrative Court.
Supreme Administrative Court judgement
If you or SAR appeal the Regional Administrative Court's decision to the Supreme Administrative Court, you will receive another notification for a court hearing. The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court usually issues its judgment within 1 month from the court hearing.
The judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court is final.
If the court’s decision is in SAR’s favor, you will no longer have the rights of an asylum-seeker. For example, your registration card will no longer be renewed.
You will also be treated as an illegally staying migrant in Bulgaria. This means that the authorities may issue an order for your forced return, and there may be a real risk that you will be detained for the purpose of removal.
If this happens, you can apply to return voluntarily to your country of origin through the International Organization for Migration (IOM)'s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration program.
If the court’s judgment is in your favor, SAR will issue a new decision on your case. Usually, SAR calls you to another interview before making the new decision.
Filing a new application
After a final decision on your first asylum application, you have the right to submit a new application for protection, but only if you can include new circumstances about your personal situation, or the situation in your country of origin, that weren't in your first application. Prepare this application with a lawyer.
SAR should make a decision within 14 days, based only on your written application.
If you wait more than 14 days for a decision, that means SAR has agreed to review your application. You should expect to get a new registration card within 3 working days.
While you wait for a new decision, you will have asylum-seekers rights, however — you won't have the right to accommodation, food and social assistance — unless you are a member of a vulnerable group.
Your last chance
You have a right to appeal SAR's decision either not to review your new application or to reject it. If SAR decides not to review your new application, or reviews it and rejects it, you have a right to appeal. You and your lawyer have 7 days to do it.
Upon appealing SAR’s decision, the court will also decide (ex officio) whether you have the right to remain on the territory of the country until a final decision on your asylum application is ruled. If the court does not do that you can request it by yourself or through your lawyer too.
This is important because you may have been issued a forced return order after your first application was rejected. If the court decides that you can remain in the country, then you will not face the risk of being returned before a decision is made on your asylum application.
The court's judgment in this case is final and you cannot appeal it.