Posts Tagged ‘Visas’

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EASO cites Ukrainian “Asylum spike”……such as it is.

October 21, 2015

In an article published by EurActiv, the EASO (European Asylum Support Office) cites a spike in asylum applications by Ukrainians.

“”Last year, the total number of asylum applicants to the EU plus Switzerland and Norway, (called the EU+) was 660,000.  Of them 220,000 came from the Mediterranean, so 440,000 must have entered via different places.  This is important to realise.” – Robert K. Visser.

What is specific to Ukraine, Visser explained, is that it was not an “asylum country” before the start of the hybrid war.

What makes Ukraine completely different from the other countries cited is that all Ukrainians arrive in the EU legally, having obtained a visa, or file their asylum application having already resided legally in the EU, often with a work permit. Visser recognized that EASO had no information, and that there was no way to measure immigration via legal entry.

Unlike any other nationality, Ukrainians who file an asylum application do it all across the EU, and not in one or two specific countries of destination.

“The Ukrainian community is the most diversified community that we know.  There are Ukrainians in all parts of Europe,” Visser said.  He added that most of them were working people with permits, residing in a legal way, some of which at some point, “seeing what happened back home” decide that they don’t want to return.”

Something of a novelty then – Ukrainian asylum seekers within the EU+ reporting nations were there legally to begin with, having been granted visas, or having existing and lawfully acquired residency.

Hordes of Ukrainians without Visas therefore did not sneak across the borders even during the worst of the fighting, significant military mobilisation, and large scale internal displacement to then claim asylum?  Seemingly not.

If what is said is accurate, then Ukrainian asylum seekers for the most part do it all legally and politely from within the EU+ nations they were already lawfully within.  (How that conjures an image of decorum amongst asylum seekers.)

“If Ukrainians represent next to 3% of the total number of asylum applicants to the EU, Russia is following closely, being the next in line with 2% of the total. 

The recognition rate of asylum application from Ukraine nationals in EU countries, which was of 21% in 2014, may appear low compared to Syrians’, which is 95%. But charts suggest that the rate of approval is growing as the conflict persists.”

So what do those percentages mean?

Not much due to a lack of statistical depth – but prima facie, based upon the figures cited by the Eurocrats within the article, if Ukrainians account for almost 3% of EU+ asylum applications then 660,000 x 3% = 19800 Ukrainians applying for asylum (with the majority already lawfully working or having residency within the EU+ nations, the Eurocrats state).

If the recognition rate of these applications is 21% as cited, then 19800 x 21% = 4158 Ukrainians that successfully were granted asylum in 2014.

4158 Ukrainians being granted asylum clearly raises no eyebrows amongst the EU+ nations – for they all continue to issue visas to Ukrainians.

Indeed, presumably most of the others that applied and were refused asylum probably still remain within the EU+ nations when considering the Eurocrats statements that the majority that applied were lawfully there anyway.

business man shrug

Perhaps the number of applications, successful or otherwise, is the wrong way to look at things?

Perhaps there are questions to be asked about why the number of applications is so low considering the circumstances Ukraine and its population find themselves in during the reporting period of 2014, despite all manner of visas continuing to be issued by every European nation?

Is it a reflection of the appeal of Europe as a permanent destination?

Is it a reflection upon how well the international agencies and Ukraine are managing to cope with the massive internal displacement within its borders?

Is it a reflection of how well events in The Donbas have been contained?

Is it a reflection upon how effective the Ukrainian (and EU) borders personnel have been?  (Only a few days ago Ukraine detained 9 Afghans attempting to enter the EU via Ukraine.)

Is it a reflection of the determination and willingness of Ukrainians to take the pain domestically, despite Kremlin efforts and an often feckless domestic political class?

Is it all of the above – and more?

Has “peak application” passed for the majority of applicants that were lawfully within the EU+ nations anyway?  If so will the 2015 figures released next year prove to have more applications than those of 2014 – or not?  Will the number of successful applications go up, regardless of whether the number of applications goes up or down?

Given all that Ukraine and its constituency went through in 2014 (and 2015), are the Ukrainian asylum figures with the EU+ nations more, or indeed less, than could have been expected?

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Asylum, Schengen and proportional representation

May 18, 2013

Now here is an interesting little story – somewhat comical to a degree – which leads nicely into Ukrainian voting systems.

Andriy Shkil, a former Batkivshchnya (BYuT) MP of the previous parliament, has been refused asylum by the Czech Republic, a nation well known for granting asylum via the historical legacy of Vaclav Havel who rarely turned an application down.

Why did the Czech Republic refuse his application for asylum?

The answer lays within the Schengen Visa system.

Although free to travel anywhere within the Schengen area once a Ukrainian has a Schengen Visa, they have to enter and egress the Schengen zone via the specific nation that granted the Visa.  If Poland granted the Visa, a Ukrainian who wanted to visit Italy for example, would have to travel there and back via Poland.

Personally I don’t know a Ukrainian who isn’t aware of the rules – although undoubtedly there will be some.

Logic would dictate, following on from such basic rules, that if an individual is going to claim asylum somewhere within the EU, that also will necessarily need to occur in the nation that issued the Visa, rather than seeking asylum in any EU nation an individual may take a fancy to.  Ultimately, a nation issuing a Schengen Visa must have some responsibility for their decision to grant – or not – an individual entry, for it is their decision and not that of any other Schengen area state who may well have made a different decision.

And so, in a way, it is rather comical that a one-time parliamentarian – an individual supposedly bright enough to have been trusted in creating and supporting – or not – Ukrainian legislature, has tried to claim asylum in the Czech Republic on a Schengen Visa issued by France.

Naturally, had Mr Shkil been reelected to the current parliament, he would not be seeking asylum anywhere but enjoying the immunity and impunity being an MP brings – and the fact he is not in parliament today it is not because he was beaten in any constituency seat, but rather due to his very lowly place on the Batkivshchnya Party list when it comes to proportional representation.

The Ukrainian electoral system is a mixed electoral system where 50% of MPs are those who take office through what is officially called Single Member District Plurality (or First Past The Post as most would recognise it), and 50% of MP seats are in parliament due to how high they are placed on their party list vis a vis the percentage of the vote their party gets.

Naturally all the top places on party lists go to the leaders to insure their place in parliament without having to go through the rigors of actually standing against another in the first past the post system in a constituency seat – as they may lose and that would never do!

Placed at 87 on the Batkivshchyna Party list, either Mr Shkil was not willing to pay enough to those who make the party lists to be placed higher, or he was such a poor performer during his tenure that his placing was deliberately done to insure he would not return to parliament.  Given the high number of poor performers on most party lists, he was either simply out bid or truly useless beyond comprehension.

Anybody on party lists lower than position 50 are in a precarious position and are certainly not assured of representing a party in parliament.  87th on a party list is a clear signal you will not get your nose in the RADA trough.

Even if we look at the ways of manipulating the proportional representation part of the vote, 87th place would simply not have been high enough to reasonably expect a return to the RADA.

If we look at the independent form of mixed electoral systems, then the 50% of first past the post seats run completely separately and in parallel to the proportional representation 50%.  This system can lead, for example, to a party winning all the constituency seats and then half of the 50% of seats allocated by proportional representation – thus giving a party 75% of the parliamentary seats.

Alternatively there is the dependent mixed electoral system, whereby proportional representation places parameters on the system, thus is therefore somewhat dominant over first past the post.  For example if a party wins 40% of the national vote, then their party members who win their seats through the first past the post constituency elections take their seats, followed by a remainder from the party list until it reaches the 40% of the popular vote it won.

Yes there are occasions under the dependent system whereby a party may win more seats in the first past the post constituency seat elections, than it should hold under its share of the proportional vote count.  Should that be the case, these “overhanging” seats in excess of the proportional vote are honoured and the parliament extends to accommodate the additional MPs for that session – whilst everybody else is represented by their proportional share of the vote.

None of this would have helped Mr Shkil at such a lowly place on the Batkivshchnya Party list – and neither would manipulating the size of voting districts – as Ukraine, for the purposes of its proportional representation, is seen as one big district rather than allocations on a proportional basis by Oblast (county) level.

Quite simply, the smaller the district, the smaller the number of proportional seats available, and thus the higher the percentage of the vote needed to win a seat.  The larger the district, the more proportional seats available, the lower the percentage of the vote needed to win a seat – not rocket science (albeit political science summed up by the formula X  1/(X+1)).

Anyway, enough of that academic waffle – Mr Shkil is now in France duly seeking asylum there.  The question is, will France grant it given that it is not normally that accommodating compared to the Czech Republic – a nation that was obviously Mr Shkil’s first choice when submitting his asylum application.

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Slovakia – the Ukrainian tourist’s best friend?

February 5, 2013

Well I was going to write something quite heavy relating to the forthcoming visit of Stefan Fule to Ukraine on 7th February, bit it will have to wait – if it ever gets written at all now.

Instead, we will have a look at recent statements coming from the Slovakian diplomatic missions in Ukraine.

“If a person already had a visa and used it within the law, that is if he had a tourist visa and really visited the stated place and returned on time, we can give him a visa for five years.” 

If the applicant for a visa has never been to a country of the Schengen area, he will receive a visa for a period of six months to two years, and if he has already had a Schengen visa, he can get a multiple-entry visa for two to five years.

“Slovak diplomats issued 6,000 visas to Ukrainians in January, or almost two times more than in December. They can be issued in Uzhgorod or Kyiv.” – Janka Burianova Slovak Consular General Ukraine

Blimey – 5 year Schengen Visas available from your nearest Slovak diplomatic mission in Ukraine!  (As long as you travel into the Schengen area and leave it via Slovakia).

There will be queues outside their mission in Kyiv and the airports of Bratislava and Kosice may well become a transit hub (after a short stay in Slovakia as per the Schengen rules), for a lot of Ukrainians wanting to visit nations that would otherwise turn down their Visa applications – particularly such long term Visas!

It certainly won’t do Slovak tourism any harm – even if many Ukrainian visitors are only going to stay 24/48 hours in Slovakia before heading onwards into deepest darkest Schengen territory.

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