Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in their home country will be offered “additional protection” in Iceland, a status which will last four years and afford the recipients expedited processing times for their visa paperwork, reports Morgunblaðið.
According to Kristín Völundardóttir, the Director of Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration, this decision was made at the start of the conflict in Syria, but she doesn’t expect that very many Syrians will try to come to Iceland. “People strive to join family and friends in Europe, but the Syrian community is not very large in Iceland,” she says. “Of course, there may be some people coming, but I don’t expect that it will be a large group.”
Should a group of Syrian refugees come to Iceland, however, a team of professionals would be in place to provide assistance, including individuals from the Ministry of the Interior and the Red Cross. It’s important to note, however, that Syrian refugees arriving in Iceland now would not be automatically granted asylum.
According to Kristín, additional protection status is easier and quicker to grant incoming refugees than asylum status. The status is only valid for individuals who are actually from Syria, Kristin said, and have newly arrived in Iceland from there.
Unless the government decides otherwise, only Syrian refugees who have already come to Iceland will be granted asylum. Syrians who are in Iceland can apply for immediate family members to join them on the basis of family reunification. “Immediate family” includes children under 18 years of age, spouses, and parents over the age of 67.