Under the new administrative practice of the Directorate of Immigration, individuals who are refused international protection may not return to Iceland for a certain amount of time if they do not leave the country voluntarily within a given time limit. This change is based primarily on the increase of applications for protection during the recent months. The Directorate of Immigration will assist as much as possible with the passage home for those who receive a time limit to leave.
When the Directorate of Immigration comes to the conclusion that an individual should be refused international protection the main policy so far has been to implement the so-called dismissal, based on Article 18 Act on Foreigners No. 96/2002. This means that the person must leave the country or be escorted out of the country by the police. No other consequences have been for the relevant individual with the exception that if travel expenses have not been reimbursed on his behalf he may be expelled from Iceland if he returns to the country.
The new procedures of the Directorate of Immigration are in accordance with Art. 33 and Art. 20 Act on Foreigners which stipulate that in cases where the person concerned should leave the country he should be given a grace period to leave the country voluntarily. Would he not comply he should be expelled and prohibited to return. That encompasses that the person is not allowed to return to Iceland during the time the return prohibition is active but may also include a return prohibition that covers all Schengen states. The return prohibition is active for a minimum of two years after the person is escorted from the country.
In the case of manifestly unfounded asylum claims from applicants that come from countries on the list of safe countries it is authorized to cancel deadlines to go home voluntarily. If the deadline has been canceled, the relevant person is expelled and granted a prohibition of return immediately with the announcement of the decision of refusal.
In regards to assistance for voluntary return travel, the Directorate of Immigration, to the fullest extent will assist those given a time limit to voluntary return home. However, the Directorate has to assume that aid will be granted within the time frame provided in the case of applicants from countries listed as a safe countries. Otherwise, it must refer the case of the individual into the hands of the police.
Authorities are generally authorized to change its administrative practices in a particular area within the laws and regulations based upon ensuring the principle of equality. Referring to the provisions that apply, it is understood that the changes in the implementation of the Directorate are well compatible with them and in many ways better than the previous practice.
The principle of equality stipulates that administrative change must be based upon objective criteria, they must be general, legitimate expectations of the public and the prohibition of retrospective law must be taken into consideration and the proposed changes need to be introduced.
The changes here are based primarily on the great increase in the number of asylum claims in Iceland in recent months. In particular, the increase of claims from citizens from countries on the list of safe countries and of claims considered manifestly unfounded. However the changes will apply equally for all matters that may fall under the provisions in question. The new procedures will be implemented in stages in accordance with the guidelines the applicants have received during the earlier stages of their case thus preventing the new administrative procedures being applied retrospectively.