Article 31 — Examination procedure
- Member States shall process applications for international protection in an examination procedure in accordance with the basic principles and guarantees of Chapter II.
- Member States shall ensure that the examination procedure is concluded as soon as possible, without prejudice to an adequate and complete examination.
- Member States shall ensure that the examination procedure is concluded within six months of the lodging of the application.
Where an application is subject to the procedure laid down in Regulation (EU) No 604/2013, the time limit of six months shall start to run from the moment the Member State responsible for its examination is determined in accordance with that Regulation, the applicant is on the territory of that Member State and has been taken in charge by the competent authority.
Member States may extend the time limit of six months set out in this paragraph for a period not exceeding a further nine months, where:
- complex issues of fact and/or law are involved;
- a large number of third-country nationals or stateless persons simultaneously apply for international protection, making it very difficult in practice to conclude the procedure within the six-month time limit;
- where the delay can clearly be attributed to the failure of the applicant to comply with his or her obligations under Article 13.
By way of exception, Member States may, in duly justified circumstances, exceed the time limits laid down in this paragraph by a maximum of three months where necessary in order to ensure an adequate and complete examination of the application for international protection.
- Without prejudice to Articles 13 and 18 of Directive 2011/95/EU, Member States may postpone concluding the examination procedure where the determining authority cannot reasonably be expected to decide within the time-limits laid down in paragraph 3 due to an uncertain situation in the country of origin which is expected to be temporary. In such a case, Member States shall:
- conduct reviews of the situation in that country of origin at least every six months;
- inform the applicants concerned within a reasonable time of the reasons for the postponement;
- inform the Commission within a reasonable time of the postponement of procedures for that country of origin.
- In any event, Member States shall conclude the examination procedure within a maximum time limit of 21 months from the lodging of the application.
- Member States shall ensure that, where a decision cannot be taken within six months, the applicant concerned shall:
- be informed of the delay; and
- receive, upon his or her request, information on the reasons for the delay and the time-frame within which the decision on his or her application is to be expected.
- Member States may prioritise an examination of an application for international protection in accordance with the basic principles and guarantees of Chapter II in particular:
- Member States may provide that an examination procedure in accordance with the basic principles and guarantees of Chapter II be accelerated and/or conducted at the border or in transit zones in accordance with Article 43 if:
- the applicant, in submitting his or her application and presenting the facts, has only raised issues that are not relevant to the examination of whether he or she qualifies as a beneficiary of international protection by virtue of Directive 2011/95/EU; or
- the applicant is from a safe country of origin within the meaning of this Directive; or
- the applicant has misled the authorities by presenting false information or documents or by withholding relevant information or documents with respect to his or her identity and/or nationality that could have had a negative impact on the decision; or
- it is likely that, in bad faith, the applicant has destroyed or disposed of an identity or travel document that would have helped establish his or her identity or nationality; or
- the applicant has made clearly inconsistent and contradictory, clearly false or obviously improbable representations which contradict sufficiently verified country-of-origin information, thus making his or her claim clearly unconvincing in relation to whether he or she qualifies as a beneficiary of international protection by virtue of Directive 2011/95/EU; or
- the applicant has introduced a subsequent application for international protection that is not inadmissible in accordance with Article 40(5); or
- the applicant is making an application merely in order to delay or frustrate the enforcement of an earlier or imminent decision which would result in his or her removal; or
- the applicant entered the territory of the Member State unlawfully or prolonged his or her stay unlawfully and, without good reason, has either not presented himself or herself to the authorities or not made an application for international protection as soon as possible, given the circumstances of his or her entry; or
- the applicant refuses to comply with an obligation to have his or her fingerprints taken in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 603/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on the establishment of Eurodac for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person and on requests for the comparison with Eurodac data by Member States’ law enforcement authorities and Europol for law enforcement purposes(1); or
- the applicant may, for serious reasons, be considered a danger to the national security or public order of the Member State, or the applicant has been forcibly expelled for serious reasons of public security or public order under national law.
- Member States shall lay down time limits for the adoption of a decision in the procedure at first instance pursuant to paragraph 8. Those time limits shall be reasonable.
Without prejudice to paragraphs 3 to 5, Member States may exceed those time limits where necessary in order to ensure an adequate and complete examination of the application for international protection.