What can you do when the extension of your residence permit is not recognized

In the last four months, given the background of the precautionary measures against the spread of the coronavirus (covid-19), residence permits and international protection applicant cards were extended,with relevant decisions of the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum. Specifically, all residence permits and blue certificates that expired or were about to expire until June 30, 2020 were extended until 31 December 2020 and all residence permits and blue certificates that expired or expire from 20 July 2020 to 31 December 2020 were extended for 8 additional months from their expiration date. Respectively, depending on the number of asylum cases, an extension of validity of the international protection applicant cards was decided. These extensions have resulted in a number of issues in the services during the interaction of third country nationals. 

According to the Ministerial Decisions during the extensions, “the third country citizen who holds the relevant residence permit, resides legally in the Greek territory and enjoys the rights deriving from the residence permit he holds”. This means that those whose residence permits have been extended, continue to have the right to access the labor market, the right to insurance and health care, the right to social benefits and generally retain all transaction rights with public services, banks etc.

However, despite the supposed universal validity of these extensions, it seems that there are still gaps in full information and interaction between the different ministries involved. In particular, there have been many cases where public services, banks and employers refuse to interact with third-country nationals because they are unaware of the Ministerial Decisions. Problems have been identified in branches of the national health and insurance services (ΕΦΚΑ), the tax office (ΔΟΥ), the manpower employment organization (ΟΑΕΔ), in transactions with banks or bank accounts as well as during the process of hiring or renewing the employment contract with the employer.

In order to avoid that third country nationals lose their access to services and benefits, we propose the following:

Those who have issues, you can print and show to the services the Government Gazette which provides for the extension of your residence permit, as an official document. Although this is not a formal procedure, our experience has shown that in many cases it has facilitated the transactions of third country nationals.

Below, you will find the relevant Government Gazettes of extensions, that you can bring with you in your transactions with services and agencies:

  • Government Gazette regarding the extension of residence permits with expiration date from 20/7/2020 to 31/12/2020
  • Government Gazette regarding the extension of residence permits with expiration date from 01/12/2019 to 30/06/2020
  • Government Gazette regarding the extension of International Protection Applicant Cards

Support was provided by HumanRights360 / Foundation Open Society Institute / Open Society Foundations