Long waiting times for first asylum interview

Is it politically motivated when the waiting time suddenly rises from 2 to 9 months?

REFUGEES.DK has found three examples for Danish newspaper Berlingske where newly arrived asylum seekers (two are from Syria) have received notice that the date of their first interview will be in April and June next year.

Read the article in Berlingske here (in Danish).

There has been a rise in the amount of asylum seekers in Denmark in the last two months – these days 150-300 arrive daily to Sandholm reception centre. But on a yearly basis the number has not risen, compared to last year. Seen in context with the large numbers arriving to our neighbouring countries, the numbers are surprisingly low.

On this background it seems peculiar that Immigration Service explains the new, long waiting times with an "extraordinary strain". Red Cross also has a hard time finding beds right now, and once again, it is the responsibility of Immigration Service to open up new camps and find accommodation.

The first asylum interview – Information- and Motivation Interview – establishes whether the case belongs in Denmark or another country should handle it (a Dublin case), and whether it falls under one of the two fast track procedures. This makes no sense if it takes 7-9 months before the interview takes place.

The present procedure was introduced a few years ago to bring down waiting times in the asylum camps, and it worked. Until September the average waiting time for interview was 63 days, according to Immigration Service. The majority of asylum seekers (Syrians and Eritreans) were granted asylum after few months in the camps. This is an advantage to all, partly because integration can start faster and the mental strain on the waiting period diminishes, and also because accommodation in the asylum system is much more expensive than the integration process in the municipalities. Long waiting times in the asylum phase also means that family reunification will be postponed, putting family members at risk while staying in dangerous home countries or under difficult circumstances half way.

When the waiting times suddenly rise so significantly, it gives reason for suspicion that it might be a deliberate delay, considering the statements from the Danish government to make Denmark appear as unattractive as possible to asylum seekers. Immigration Service assures, however, that they are recruiting more staff members, which no doubt seems to be necessary in the future.