Law introducing tougher foreigner residence conditions takes effect

Ljubljana – Amendments to the foreigners act that tighten residence conditions for foreign citizens in Slovenia and introduce the concept of a complex migration emergency took effect on Tuesday. Declaring the latter would require an absolute majority in parliament.

If a complex emergency is declared under deteriorating migration-related conditions, implementation of the international protection act could be suspended, and access to asylum in Slovenia would be restricted.

Police officers would be able to reject the intention from a foreigner to submit an application for international protection, except if they detect during the procedure certain systemic shortcomings that could put the foreigner under risk of torture, inhumane and degrading treatment in the country where they are being returned to.

Under the new legislation, the health condition of foreigners would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The passage of the legislation in parliament was marked by warnings from the opposition that the criteria for declaring a complex crisis had not been clearly defined.

Criticism was also levelled at the provisions under which the police will assess if a migrant is indeed an unaccompanied minor, with MPs arguing that the police are not appropriately trained for that.

The government argued that the amendments were needed to prevent mass abuses, as organised criminal groups make money by smuggling migrants.

And Interior Minister Aleš Hojs noted that the concept of a complex emergency had already been introduced earlier and that the amendments strictly followed the request of the Constitutional Court that each person be treated individually.

The changes also transpose an EU directive that regulates the situation of foreign students and researchers in Slovenia, and extend the deadline for reuniting families up to two years.

Moreover, Slovenian language skills have been made the new requirement for asylum seekers – a foreigner who is entering the country for the first time should have a basic knowledge of the language.

The A2 level is meanwhile a threshold set for a foreigner who has been residing in Slovenia several years.

While the law formally takes effect today, its application has been deferred until the end of May.