The Greek government leads the second generation to exclusion once again
By publishing the new Migration Code the government is taking back what the latter established in 2014,
depriving once more the second generation -and not only- of their essential rights.
The new Migration Code was subject to public consultation from the afternoon of Tuesday 07/03/2023 until the morning of Tuesday 14/03. This Code is replacing the first Migration and Social Integration Code adopted in 2014, also known as L. 4251/2014. The Ministry of Migration and Asylum published a bill of approximately 200 pages, containing 180 articles,, with a deadline of 4 working days for organisations and citizens to study it and submit comments. Nevertheless, this short period of time was more than enough for us to understand the spirit and intentions of the legislator. There are two sides to this new Migration Code:
A friendly Code for third country nationals who intend to change the category of their residence permit
The new Code aims to find solutions to certain practical issues, such as the procedure concerning the issuance of VISA and particularly to simplify the changing of the purpose of the residence permit to a much easier procedure, that has been significantly tight until now. Apart from these points, there are no major changes regarding the conditions and the procedure for issuing a residence permit, since most of the articles remain the same as the articles in the previous Code. Only in the order and structure of the chapters are there some legislative and technical improvements.
A Code hostile to the second generation, unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers
Firstly, the new Code plans to abolish the second generation residence permit, as we knew it. ONLY if they already have another residence permit, those who were born in Greece or/and completed 6 grades of greek school, will be able to obtain a ten-year residence permit. This automatically excludes a significant number of second-generation children, whose parents have problems with their documents, while their children are minors. Under the current legal framework, these children have the right to obtain legal status once they reach adulthood, regardless of the legal status of their family members.
At the same time, the Ministry has been promising a regulation to solve the legal gap for unaccompanied minors who attend Greek schools and by the time they turn 18 years-old they no longer have a residence permit. In fact, Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, met Saidu Kamara at Maximos Mansion, an excellent student who was at risk of being left without legal status. However, as it turns out, the government’s promises were not aimed at remedying the injustice caused by a loophole in the law and were rather a communicative exploitation by the government. The provision proposed in the Code for the unaccompanied minors, who have completed 3 grades of Greek school and enrolled in post-secondary or higher education, also requires that they already hold another residence permit in order to obtain a ten-year residence permit. This condition is completely contradictory, given that unaccompanied minors who reach adulthood have trouble with their residency in the country, as their asylum application has already been rejected or it is at risk of being rejected. So, how exactly could they already have any permanent residence permit to apply for the 10-year permit? Thus, this is either a legislative error or an absolute mockery.
Τo add insult to injury, the application fee for these categories costs 900 euros… Therefore, the legislator is undermining the lives of the second generation and unaccompanied minors, by putting one obstacle after another . For the few 18-year-olds, who will already have a residence permit, it will be possible to apply for a residence permit, because they will have to spend a little less than 1000 euros for it. It should be noted that, even the fee of 300 euros that now applies to second-generation permits, is an exorbitant amount for most children who have just finished school and reached adulthood. They are objectively not in a position to raise such high sums of money.
In other words the new Code deprives children born and raised in the country, children who have attended Greek schools and universities, of lawful residence and therefore of dignity. And this takes us a decade back, prior to 2014, when the legal residence of the second generation had not been yet institutionalised.
Additionally, this bill can be compared to a minefield for those who had applied for asylum (international protection), as it abolishes their access to certain categories of residence permits. The most crucial amendments are those proposed in the residence permit for exceptional reasons, which is the main way of regularisation for people already residing for 7 years in Greece.
- Firstly, those who have received a final rejection of their asylum application, will no longer have the right to apply for this residence permit.
- Secondly, the time period during which the asylum application is being examined will no longer count as time proof of the seven-year residency.
Given that the vast majority of those who apply for this permit had already been through the asylum process (obviously most of them have received a rejection decision), it is clear that the residence permit for exceptional reasons will become an “exceptional” procedure and only a few people will be eligible for it.
Finally, there is absolutely no provision regarding the residence status of migrant land workers, who already reside and work in Greek crops for years. Despite the significant lack of labour force in many rural areas and the continuous requests of local authorities and producers to the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, there is no solution because the problem is completely ignored. . The need for seasonal labour is to be met only by inviting workers from third countries. So, how are the land workers, who already work here, supposed to become visible and how will they obtain social insurance?
The above are just one example of the flaws of the new Migration Code which attempts to limit or abolish some of the essential migration rights.. Once again, the preparatory process was carried out without the people directly affected, i.e. migrant communities, and without any prior consultation with civil society organisations. The current Migration Code, which came into force in 2014, is a comprehensive legislative text and has regulated the majority of migration issues. It only needed some targeted improvements and amendments. However, some of the provisions of the new Code actually achieve the exact opposite: A BACKSLIDING. In conclusion, the government contradicts itself, asthe previous Code was also enacted under the a government of ND (the same political party).
The provisions of this bill, like every other bill in recent years, seek to send a clear message of deterrence to third country nationals who wish to be documented and continue to reside in this country.
Generation 2.0 RED submitted detailed comments to the public consultation. As an organization with experience and knowledge of the legal framework of migration policy, we call upon the Ministry of Migration and Asylum to take into account the comments and proposals of Civil Society in order to finally present a fair Migration Code that ensures the lawful residence and the dignified life of people residing, studying and working permanently in Greece.