A guide for Ukrainian citizens in Romania
Ukrainian citizens fleeing their homeland due to the ongoing crisis are welcome to Romania, where they will receive protection and necessary support. During their stay in Romania, accommodation, food and medical services are accessible for Ukrainians seeking safety from the ongoing military invasion, as a result of a combined effort of the authorities and unrivalled mobilization of private entities and the civil society.
For those who envisage a longer stay in the country, Romania has opened its legal framework to provide a customized response to matters of primary interest such as documentation, asylum, healthcare, working and residence.
In turn, the European Union has activated the temporary protection mechanism for an initial period of one year applicable to Ukrainian citizens and their family members and also to third countries nationals, under certain conditions.
The information below may be subject to further changes as the events unfold and the Romanian authorities and the European bodies are striving to address to the largest extent possible an unprecedented wide range of specific needs. Also, measures aimed at facilitating formalities are currently under development and will be included herein as updates when approved.
- Border crossing. Refugee statute
There is no quarantine requirement, being repealed as of March 8, 2022.
Under the current exceptional circumstances of humanitarian crisis affecting Ukraine, entry in Romania is possible based on documentation such as passport (biometric/simple), national identity document or, as case may be, in absence of any identification documents, based on declared identity. However, Ukrainian nationals without passports or any other identity documents can enter Romanian territory after they request one of the international protection measures (asylum, temporary protection).
Beneficiaries of temporary protection can apply for asylum at any time. It must be mentioned that temporary protection is not granted concurrently with asylum status while applications are under examination. Where, following the determination of an application for asylum, a person eligible for temporary protection is not granted refugee status or subsidiary protection, that person shall be granted or, as the case may be, continue to be granted temporary protection until the expiry of the period for which that form of protection has been granted.
Those who do not fall under temporary protection should follow the general rules for crossing the border in Romania.
All minors coming from Ukraine in the current context are accepted in Romania. Minors do not need written approval from either of their parents (accompanying him/her or not), in order to cross the Romanian border.
It is recommended that minors entering Romania or the persons that accompany them, as case may be, have at least an identity card of the minor or a birth certificate, although entry into Romania is accepted in absence thereof.
A Task Force for Unaccompanied Minors, without legal personality is set up at the level of each county and, where appropriate, at the level of each sector of the municipality of Bucharest, with the role of quickly identifying the most appropriate measure for the protection of the unaccompanied minor.
Persons with disabilities and elderly persons with reduced mobility or in a situation of dependency
Adults with disabilities and elderly persons with reduced mobility or in a situation of dependency, who come from the area of armed conflict in Ukraine entering Romania and do not have valid identity documents, are referred to the General Inspectorate for Immigration in order to establish their legal status, while being taken in charge, upon request, by the public social assistance service at county or local level.
Temporary protection and corresponding rights
Temporary protection represents a mechanism to deal with mass arrivals in the EU of foreign nationals who are unable to return to their countries - particularly because of war, violence or human rights violations.
The European Union has activated the temporary protection mechanism for an initial period of one year, granting immediate temporary protection to Ukrainian citizens and their families if they were residing in Ukraine before or on 24 February 2022 and to other third country nationals, under certain conditions.
Throughout the duration of temporary protection, beneficiaries of this form of protection enjoy a wide variety of rights, including the following:
- to be issued with a document granting them permission to remain on the territory of Romania;
- to be informed in writing, in a language they are presumed to understand, of the provisions relating to temporary protection;
- to be employed by natural or legal persons, to engage in self-employed activities, subject to the rules applicable to the profession, or in activities such as educational opportunities for adults, vocational training and practical work experience, in accordance with the law;
- to receive, on request, maintenance support, if they lack the financial means;
- to receive medical assistance, under the conditions provided by law.
A Government Decision on establishing certain conditions for ensuring temporary protection, providing the concrete conditions for ensuring protection is currently pending publication.
It must also be mentioned that minors in special situations who come from the area of armed conflict in Ukraine and entered the territory of Romania, whether or not they apply for international protection, as well as those under the temporary protection regime benefit from the following rights in the field of education:
- the right to education in educational establishments in Romania under the same conditions and with funding from the same budgets as for Romanian pre-primary, pre-school and school-level children;
- the right to free accommodation in boarding schools, food allowance, the right to bedding, school supplies, clothing, shoes, textbooks.
Asylum application procedure and corresponding rights
Under Romanian law, foreign nationals or stateless persons are granted access to the asylum procedure from the moment they express their will in writing or orally.
Ukrainian citizens who carry a valid passport accompanied by a visa, under the conditions of the law / by the small border traffic permit may apply for asylum either immediately or at any later point during their stay. The Ukrainians who request asylum at the Romanian border may enter the country in absence of identification documents.
Applicants who are either on Romanian territory or at the borders thereof submit the specific application form, comprising personal identification data and being subject to a collecting fingerprints and photography procedure. Fingerprinting procedure necessary for asylum application is not performed in case of foreigners who are younger than 14 years old.
Under the asylum procedure, unaccompanied minors will be received on Romanian territory and a legal representative will be appointed to support him/her in the process. Application of an asylum-seeking minor is analyzed and solved with priority.
The asylum seeker is obliged to submit all the documents available to him/her and relevant to his/her personal situation, including the passport, if any. In furtherance of the asylum application procedure, they will receive a temporary identity document for asylum seekers issued by the General Inspectorate for Immigration.
Other obligations of asylum seekers include: (i) the obligation to present real and accurate information to the competent authorities; (ii) obligation not to leave the local area of residence in absence of an authorization in this regard from the immigration structure, issued in furtherance of an individual, objective and impartial analysis thereof; (iii) obligation to comply with Romanian legislation, as well as with the specific measures imposed by the Romanian authorities competent on asylum matters.
Asylum applicants have the right to remain on the territory of Romania until the asylum procedure is completed and are protected against expulsion, extradition and forced return from the border or from the territory of the Romanian state.
The statute of refugee is granted for an undetermined period. However, if the asylum seeker returns to Ukraine, it is considered that he/she has voluntarily returned under the protection of the authorities of the country of origin and, from this moment, the assistance provided by the Romanian State will cease.
Other rights of asylum seekers include:
- the right to be assisted by a lawyer at any stage of the asylum procedure;
- the right to be issued with a temporary identity document, under the conditions of the law, the validity of which will be extended periodically;
- the right of an asylum seeker who does not have means of subsistence to benefit, on request, throughout the asylum procedure and for a period of 15 days following the finalization thereof, of monetary support which guarantees subsistence and protect his/her physical and mental health, the corresponding amounts being determined by the Government;
- the right of access to the labour market, under certain conditions and, as case may be, the right to benefit from employment incentives and protection under the unemployment insurance system, under the terms provided by law for Romanian citizens;
- the right to accommodation in specially-designated units according to the law;
- the right to receive medical assistance, under the conditions provided by law.
Among other benefits and protections, minor asylum seekers have the right to access pre-primary, pre-school and school-level compulsory education under the same conditions as Romanian citizens.
- Medium and long-term residence in Romania
Generally, the residence conditions in Romania apply as per the legal framework regulating the foreign citizens’ rights. As such:
- Ukrainians entering in Romania based on a biometric passport have the right to remain in the country for 90 days during any 180-day period, in absence of any further immigration formalities being required.
- Ukrainians entering in Romania based on a simple passport accompanied by a visa have the right to reside in Romania depending on the type of visa but, in any case, for a maximum period of 90 days within the six months validity term of the visa sticker.
Note: In order to extend the right to stay on the Romanian territory beyond 90 days, Ukrainians would have to apply for one of the alternatives for extending their residence right, as provided by the Romanian law. However, it is to be noted that currently Ukrainian nationals are exempt from work permit and long-stay work visa requirement.
- Residence permits justify longer stays and, depending on the purpose of the permit, the statutory periods vary between 1 year (e.g. for work purposes) and even up to 5 years or 10 years, as case may be, subject to the special legal requirements in this regard.
Note: Generally, beneficiaries of temporary protection mechanism will be granted residence permits for this special purpose, for the duration of the mechanism itself.
- Working in Romania
Ukrainian citizens from the armed conflict zone of Ukraine who legally enter the territory of Romania and who do not apply for a form of protection under the asylum legislation enjoy the following benefits:
- they may be hired without the employer obtaining a work permit or the Ukrainian obtaining a long-stay visa for employment purposes (however, an application for a residency permit will be needed);
- if they do not have documents proving professional qualifications or work experience necessary for employment, they may be employed for a period of 12 months with the possibility of extension for periods of 6 months, for a maximum of one year, on the basis of a declaration on their own responsibility that they meet the conditions of professional qualification and work experience required for the job they are to be employed in and have no criminal record rendering them incompatible with the activity they perform or are to perform in Romania, based on a hiring procedure approved by the competent ministry – these provisions shall not be applicable to individuals who wish to take up or pursue in Romania, independently or as an employee, professions such as that of doctor, dentist, pharmacist, general medical assistant, veterinary surgeon and architect etc.;
- they shall have access to the unemployment insurance system, to unemployment prevention measures and to measures for the stimulation of employment, granted following registration at the county employment agencies, respectively of the Bucharest municipality, under the conditions established for Romanian citizens.
Temporary protection status also confers the right to be employed or to carry out independent activities.
In what concerns asylum, during the asylum procedure, the foreigner applying for a form of protection has the right to access to the labor market under the conditions provided by law for Romanian citizens, after the expiry of a period of 3 months from the date of submission of the asylum application, if a decision has not been taken on his/her application during the administrative phase of the procedure and the delay cannot be attributed to him/her, as well as during the asylum procedure during the judicial phase.
As a general rule, it must be noted that recognition of refugee status or the granting of subsidiary protection entitles the beneficiary to be employed, to exercise free professions and to perform self-employed economic activities, under the same conditions as Romanian citizens.
- Medical assistance
Special rules have been established in the current humanitarian context. As such, persons coming from the area of armed conflict in Ukraine and enter Romania, who do not apply for a form of protection under asylum legislation, whether or not they benefit from the temporary protection mechanism, benefit, within the temporary camps for accommodation and humanitarian assistance or in other accommodation locations established by the county/municipal committees for emergency situations, from the provision of the following essential utilities during the temporary stay:
- to receive free medical assistance and appropriate treatment through the national system of emergency medical assistance and qualified first aid, as well as
- the right to be included in the national public health programmes.
If the persons above require medical services, health materials, medicines and medical devices, other than those provided for above, they have the right to benefit from the basic package of services provided for in the framework contract on the conditions for the provision of health care, medicines and medical devices under the social health insurance system and its implementing rules, as well as medicines, medical materials, medical devices and medical services included in the national curative health programmes, as Romanian insured persons, without payment of social health insurance contribution, personal contribution for medicines provided in outpatient treatment and with exemption from co-payment. Foreign citizens or stateless persons in special situations who come from the area of armed conflict in Ukraine entering Romania and seek international protection in the country shall also enjoy this right.
- Upcoming measures and developments
There are a series of legal proposals set to advance following the legislative procedure, including measures in the field of social protection, facilitating and accelerating certain immigration formalities, granting certain means of state support for employment of Ukrainian asylum applicants etc. Further special provisions are expected to be proposed and adopted by the competent authorities, depending on the evolution of the current context.