Temporary protection is group protection. This protection is not granted on an individual basis, but only in cases of a mass influx of foreigners who are forced to leave their country of origin as a result of an armed conflict, civil war, foreign aggression, and large-scale violations of human rights or violence.
In this context, the decision about granting temporary protection is taken in respect of foreigners from one specific state – where the citizens of that state flee on a large scale due to war.
Bulgaria cannot take on its own a decision about granting temporary protection; the reason is that the political decision as to whether there is war in a certain state or not is made by the Council of the European Union (EU), and this decision is enforced on the territory of all the member states of the EU. This decision also determines the time period during which temporary protection will be provided to the foreigners who have fled on a large scale the war in the relevant state. The time period for temporary protection can be extended if the war is still raging in that state and the situation has not become stable.
This means that if foreigners fleeing a certain state for reason of war enter the territory of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian government should request that the Council of the European Union declares temporary protection. If, however, the Council of the European Union does not do so, Bulgaria will have to examine each application on a case-by-case basis and conduct individual procedures for each foreigner from that particular state.
Foreigners who have been granted temporary protection have the right to:
- stay on the territory of Bulgaria;
- have a job without the need for a work permit;
- receive appropriate accommodation or financial means for accommodation, if needed;
- receive social assistance;
- receive free medical care but only in emergency situations;
- return voluntarily to their country of origin.
If a foreigner who has been registered as a beneficiary of temporary protection in Bulgaria attempts to enter another state of the European Union without permission or to stay on the territory of that state without permission, such a foreigner will be taken back to Bulgaria. If, however, a foreigner who is a beneficiary of temporary protection returns to his/her country of origin assuming the war is over, and the situation there disproves the assumption, this foreigner has the right to come back to Bulgaria which is obliged to admit him/her back into its territory.
However, temporary protection is withdrawn from a foreigner in respect of whom it is established that he/she is a threat to national security or the public in Bulgaria. Temporary protection is also withdrawn from a foreigner in respect of whom there are serious grounds to believe that he/she has committed a war crime, a crime against peace and humanity or acts contrary to the goals and principles of the United Nations Organisation.
During the time period of temporary protection the beneficiaries of such protection do not have the right to lodge an individual application for international protection even if they have reasons to fear personal persecution. However, when the time period of temporary protection elapses, foreigners have the right to lodge an individual application for international protection in Bulgaria, which will be examined in an individual procedure. If the beneficiaries of temporary protection do not lodge such an application after the time period has elapsed and the temporary protection granted has been terminated, they will be considered illegal immigrants, and the immigration police can apply a deportation procedure with respect to them in order to return them to their country of origin.