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Spain introduces special COVID-19 integration measures

Nation-wide responses

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spanish government introduced a state of emergency through a Royal Decree on 14 March. Additional emergency measures were announced on 20 March to ensure the safe running of the procedures for the integration of migrants and asylum seekers, generally suspending administrative deadlines for the duration of the pandemic. As a result:

  • All residence permits expiring during the state of emergency remain valid;
  • Applications for new permits can be submitted only for exceptional reasons;
  • Permit application submitted before 14 March with positive outcomes are finalised. In case there is a need for additional documents, the procedures have been halted, and supporting documents which have expired during the state of emergency period will also be accepted.

The functioning of the National Reception System of International Protection has also been adapted to the emergency situation through special measures, including:

  • The temporary suspension of refugees and asylum-seekers' obligation to have valid documents in order to continue receiving aid covering their basic needs; the suspension comes as the renewal of those documents is not currently possible;
  • Interviews with refugees and asylum seekers who have applied for such aid are currently taking place over the phone, with simultaneous interpretation provided, in order to assess the applicants’ degree of vulnerability and prioritise access to the system for those most in need;
  • Asylum seekers who have not been able to submit their official asylum applications yet could request access to and benefit from the system during the pandemic;
  • Except in cases of extreme vulnerability, all transfers and referrals of beneficiaries of the system to temporary reception places is suspended.

The full measures are available on the website of the Ministry for Inclusion, Social Security and Migration here.

Regional responses

Regional governments have also responded to the pandemic. See here how the Catalan region reaches out to migrants.

The Catalan government has also giving recommendations on how to bury the deceased according to the Islamic rites, as due to the pandemic the usual practice of repatriation to the countries of origin is not possible. The Government has also offered advice and help to each municipality in the process of preparing the cemeteries, and reminded them that, according to the law, the Muslim community has the right to have their own cemeteries, as well as burial plots in council-run graveyards.