Immigration police officers wear grey police uniforms with an insignia in Bulgarian: “Миграция” and in English: “Migration”.
Immigration police officers exercise control over the residence of foreigners in Bulgaria. The Immigration Police, Migration Directorate, is in charge of issuing residence permits to foreigners in Bulgaria, and carries out the deportation of foreigners who do not have such a permit and regular documents.
The immigration police have the right to detain foreigners who do not have regular documents and a residence permit in the special detention centres for irregular immigrants while their deportation from Bulgaria back to their countries of origin is being organized. Bulgaria has two detention centres for irregular immigrants – Lyibimetz (near the town of Svilengrad at the Bulgarian-Turkish border), and Busmantzi (near the capital city of Sofia). Such detention can last up to 6 months, but, in individual cases, it can be extended up to a maximum of 18 months based on court permission. After the 18-month term expires, the foreigner will be released, if during his/her detention the Bulgarian authorities have not ensured the necessary arrangements for his/her deportation back to the country of origin.
The foreigners seeking protection who did not manage to declare their application for protection at the border before being transferred into the detention centre, have the right to file an application before the staff of the detention centre where they are accommodated. In this case, the application must be written in the foreigner’s mother tongue or, if the foreigner is illiterate, the application will be put down by the staff of the detention centre in Lyubimetz or Busmantzi.
The immigration police are obliged to immediately send the application for protection to the Agency for Refugees. The application is accompanied by all the documents for protection that the foreigner seeking protection possesses and had on himself/herself upon his/her detention.
The Agency for Refugees is obliged to send an answer to the immigration police indicating the day on which the foreigner is to be transferred from the detention centre into one of the refugee centres (camps) for the purpose of registering him/her as an applicant for protection in Bulgaria.
While the law does not lay down a time limit for the transfer into the refugee camp, this should be done as soon as possible. According to the practice of the Bulgarian courts, the transfer must take place within 15 days from the day on which the application for protection was lodged. In case the transfer is delayed, the foreigner has the right to lodge an appeal to the court requesting that the court obliges the Agency for Refugees to release him/her and to register him/her as an applicant for international protection. If the foreigner has been detained at Lyubimetz, the appeal is lodged before the Administrative Court of Haskovo, and, if the foreigner has been detained at Busmantzi, before the Administrative Court of the city of Sofia.
After receiving a response from the Agency for Refugees, the foreigner is transported to the refugee centre, as allocated, where the procedure for his/her registration will take place.