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Irregular Immigrants | Albania |

Albania Background Information Historical Developments Key Stages Characteristics of Current Migration Flows Irregular Emigration Refugees and Asylum Seekers Immigration since 1990 Irregular Immigrants Refugees and Asylum Seekers Development of Migration-Related Policies Citizenship Current Developments Future Challenges References and Further Reading

Irregular Immigrants

Julie Vullnetari

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A very small number of migrants enter Albania clandestinely – often via Greece – aiming to transit to Italy. Others overstay their visa or – as in the case of Turkish citizens – their 90-days period of free-visa stay. In 2001 the 'pre-screening procedure' was introduced, according to which a team of representatives from UNHCR, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), the IOM (International Organization for Migration), and MoI's Directorate for Asylum and Refugees would provide an indication as to whether an individual apprehended by the Albanian authorities might be a refugee, economic migrant, or victim of trafficking. They were then referred to relevant authorities so that they could apply for asylum, receive assistance as victims of trafficking or return voluntarily with IOM's support as might be the case. There were no specific provisions for those who fell outside of these categories.

In 2008 two pieces of legislation were passed to this effect: first, the MoI's Instruction 'On the Procedure to Be Implemented by the State Police for Selection of Irregular Foreigners at the Border' and second, the law 'On Foreigners'. As a result, irregular migrants apprehended in Albania who fall outside of the aforementioned categories are issued with an order of expulsion, implying their voluntary departure, followed by an expulsion order through coercion if they fail to leave within the set time limit. In such cases, irregular migrants are detained in a closed centre until the expulsion order is enforced, which can last up to six months, extended for another six on justified grounds. A Centre for Administrative Detention of Illegal Foreigners with a maximum capacity of 200 persons was constructed in 2008 with EU financial assistance. The centre became operational in 2010 but has since received harsh criticism from the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights because of its remote and inaccessible location, inadequate legal safeguards in law and practice and the treatment of migrants in prison-like facilities. By the end of 2008, transit reception centers were also established at ten border crossing points.

Most transit migrants are South Asians, especially Afghans, but also include some Chinese, Kurds and Africans. Some of those who manage to transit successfully may still be returned to Albania if apprehended by EU authorities under the RA that Albania has signed with the EU. The entry into force of the RA's clause for Third Country Nationals (TCNs), combined with the lack of capacity of Albanian authorities to follow-up on TCNs' removal from Albania, have raised fears that the country may become a 'revolving door' for these migrants, who will insist on trying to reach the EU. For example, in the period September 2010 – April 2011, some 207 Leaving Orders had been issued. However, the number of actual removals is very small, as Table 8 shows.

Table 8: Number of removals of irregular Third Country Nationals to their countries of origin, 2006-10

Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Number 936934229

Source: MoI data in Dedja (2012b), p. 106

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Julie Vullnetari is post-doctoral researcher at the Sussex Centre for Migration Research, School of Global Studies of the University of Sussex in the UK. Email: E-Mail Link: