Information about Slovenia

General information

Slovenia is a relatively small European country (and part of EU), located in the heart of Europe, neighbouring Italy (hyperlink to Italian page) in the West, Austria (hyperlink to Austrian page) in the North, Hungary in the Northeast and Croatia (hyperlink to Croatian page) in the East and South-East. In the South, Slovenia has a little piece of sea.

The capital is Ljubljana, which is also an economic, cultural and political centre. The Slovenian territory covers 20,273 km². The state border is 1,382 km long, of which 921 km are on land, 413 km on rivers and 48 km on the sea border.

Geographically, Slovenia lies in Central and South-Eastern Europe, at the junction of the Alps, the Dinaric mountains, the Pannonian Plain and the Mediterranean.

It has a very diverse terrain with high mountains (in the north-western part of the country the Alps dominate with the highest peak Triglav (2864 m)), a distinctive flat landscape in Prekmurje in the North-East, valleys and basins in the central part, diverse Karst landscape in the South-East and a narrow strip of the sea.

Half of its surface is covered by forests. The region is intertwined with numerous rivers and karstic caves, among which there are beauties such as Postojna Cave and the Škocjan Caves, which are listed as Slovenian national heritage.

What is the climate like in Slovenia?

Slovenia is a continental country with four seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn, which have their own characteristics. In winter, temperatures can drop to 20 degrees Celsius below zero, and in summer they can reach + 35 degrees or more. The autumn is the season with the most rain.

There are several climate zones in Slovenia: mountain, continental to the Mediterranean climate, which, due to the diversity of the landscape, are rather atypical.

In the northwest of the Alps, the mountain climate prevails, which means that it is relatively cold throughout the year; the larger part of precipitations fall in this part of the country, especially in the form of snow.

The mountain climate can be unpredictable, meaning that it can also snow in the summer, and that the temperatures can drop to around zero, while the rest of the country is pleasantly warm.

By the sea, the Mediterranean climate prevails with mild winters, when the temperatures rarely drop below zero and most days are warm and sunny.

In the rest of Slovenia, a moderate continental climate dominates, characterized by cold winters and hot summers, which may vary depending on the location.

Slovenia is also known for its diversity in plant and animal species, including the world-famous human fish.

Who lives in Slovenia?

Regarding its population, Slovenia is a homogeneous country. Of the 2,066,880 inhabitants (January 2018), the majority are Slovenes (94.10%). The number of foreign nationals has been increasing in recent years, but still remains quite low at 5.9% (January 2018).

Slovenia is home to two indigenous minorities – Italian (coastal towns and their hinterlands) and Hungarian (Prekmurje); there are also the Roma ethnic communities (Prekmurje, Dolenjska and Bela krajina).

The average population is 101.9 inhabitants per km². About half of the population lives in urban areas, while others live in rural areas. The average age is 43.1 years. Life expectancy is 78 years for men and 84 for women (2016).

The majority of foreigners are immigrants from the territory of the former Yugoslav republics – mainly Serbs and Croats (2%), followed by Bosnians and Albanians.

In last 3 years (2016—May 2018) 362 refugees were granted asylum in Slovenia (756 altogether). They came mainly from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Eritrea and they live in Ljubljana or Maribor (second biggest city in Slovenia).

Catholicism is the main religion in Slovenia as most (more than 50%) of the population declare themselves as Catholics. However, other religions are also present; Evangelism is more frequent in the South-East part of the country.

For more info about religion, see chapter Religion.

What is the language in Slovenia?

The official language in Slovenia is Slovene. In the areas of municipalities where Italian or Hungarian national communities live (along the border with Italy and Hungary), the official language is also Italian or Hungarian. Since 2004, Slovene is also one of the official languages ​​of the European Union. Slovene has almost 50 dialects, which can differ a lot; people who speak certain dialects can be difficult to understand evet to people who know the official Slovene language.

Slovene language is part of the Slavic group of languages such as Czech, Slovak, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Bulgarian, Macedonian, etc. It is most similar to Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian. It contains 25 letters (a b c č d e f g h i j k l m n o p r s š t u v z ž) and 29 sounds. Letters č, š, ž are the writing sign for the sounds tʃ, ʃ and ʒ.

Most Slovenes speak at least one foreigner language, mainly English and German. Often they also speak Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian due to common past and large ex-Yugoslavian community. Italian and Hungarian are also spoken in the areas near the border. In communities with a large percentage of Albanian migrants, Albanian is also frequently spoken.

Approximately 2,500,000 people speak Slovene; most of them live in Slovenia, but Slovene is also spoken in Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia. There are also large ethnic minorities of Slovenian descent in Argentina, USA and Australia.

What political system does Slovenia have?

Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy. For information about political system, see: ‘Political system and society’ chapter.

Learning opportunities:

 

Political system and society

What political system does Slovenia have?

Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy. It has been a part of EU (European Union) since 2004. For more information about EU, see: (https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/eu-in-brief_en).

The head of the state is the President of the Republic, who has a representative role and is elected every five years. The holder of the executive power in Slovenia is the Government, which is led by the Prime Minister.

The Government is composed of Prime Minister and ministers. The Prime Minister is nominated by the President of the Republic of Slovenia and confirmed by the National Assembly, which is chaired by the President of the National Assembly.

The parliament of Slovenia consists of the National Assembly and the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia. The National Assembly (»decision maker«) has 90 seats, occupied by 88 directly elected representatives and two proportionally elected representatives (one from the Italian and Hungarian minorities).

Members of National Assembly are usually members of political parties, so voters vote for the party, not for individuals. There are many political parties in Slovenia, generally divided in the Left (more liberal) and Right (more conservative) Wing.

The National Council has 40 seats, represented by social, economic, professional and locally important groups. The National Council does not function as the second (upper) Chamber of the House, since the Constitution does not provide any jurisdiction to the National Council.

The President of the Republic and Members of the Parliament are elected in the elections, where every adult citizen (over 18 years of age) has the right to vote and to be elected. Note that only citizens can vote and be elected. On information how to get Slovenian citizenship, see chapter International protection.

Slovenia is governed by the rule of law, which means that the laws are the means for regulating social relations and for preventing and resolving legal disputes. The Constitution is the highest general act by which the state defines the general principles and forms of its political and social order.

The constitution also provides the fundamental human rights and freedoms for every citizen. Thus, everyone living in Slovenia is guaranteed the same human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their nationality, race, sex, language, religion, political or other belief, material status, birth, education, social status, disability or any other personal circumstance.

There are 212 municipalities in Slovenia, 11 of them have urban municipality status: Celje, Koper, Kranj, Ljubljana, Maribor, Murska Sobota, Nova Gorica, Novo mesto, Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec, Velenje.

Municipalities must provide pre-school and school education and primary health care, key public services (including public transport and library services) and are in charge of spatial planning.

Slovenia is divided into 12 statistical regions: Podravska region, Carinthian region, Savinjska region, Zasavska region, Posavje region, South-East Slovenia, Central Slovenia, Gorenjska region, Primorsko-notranjska region, Goriška region, Obalno-kraška region, which do not have any authority regarding management.

Links:

More information about political system in Slovenia:

Religion

Which are the religions in Slovenia?

In Slovenia, state and religion are separate. That means the law is superior to any religious regulations. Slovenes have a right to their own religious beliefs. Religion is private, so you are not obliged to state your religious or other beliefs publicly.

Questions about religious, sexual or political beliefs are considered inappropriate. It is also permitted not to be a member of any religious group. People are treated equally, irrespective of their religious belief. Religious communities enjoy equal rights, and they pursue their activities freely.

Majority of Slovenes are Christian. They make up approximately 60% of the population. There are different sub-groups of Christians: Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. A big part of the population (around 10%) does not belong to any religion – either they were never religious or they have resigned from a religion.

A small part of people belong to other religious groups – the most, approximately 2.4%, are Muslim. Many people do not state their religion. Most of the people belonging to religions other than Christianity live in bigger cities.

(2002 – http://www.hervardi.com/statisticni_podatki_slovenije.php)

There is just one mosque in Slovenia, located in Jesenice, but in Ljubljana, an Islamic centre is being built. However, there are two communities, which are dedicated to the preservation of Islamic values among Muslims of Slovenia and organize various events: Muslim Community of Slovenia (http://www.smskupnost.si/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=68&Itemid=43) and Islamic community (http://www.islamska-skupnost.si/).

Public holidays are accordant with the Christian religion and historic events, so there are no Muslim holidays. Wearing headscarf for religious reasons is allowed, but for the law it is important that women wear it voluntarily. Unfortunately, practices of discrimination are still present.

Hate speech and verbal assaults are the main forms of racism. For more information, see chapter Protection against discrimination (link). However, there are people and associations fighting against discrimination and encouraging diversity and multiculturalism.

Rights and responsibilities

What rights do residents have?

As resident of the Slovene territory, you are guaranteed fundamental rights (UN Declaration of Human rights http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/), which cannot be violated:

Human rights and fundamental freedoms in Slovenia are also defined by the Constitution (http://www.us-rs.si/en/about-the-court/legal-basis/constitution/), which states equality before the Law. In Slovenia, everyone shall be guaranteed equal human rights and fundamental freedoms irrespective of their national origin, race, sex, language, religion, political or other conviction, material standing, birth, education, social status, disability, or any other personal circumstance.

Human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Constitution can be divided into 4 groups:

1. Personal

  • Inviolability of human life
  • Protection of human personality and dignity
  • Freedom of conscience
  • Freedom of movement
  • Right to judicial protection
  • Right to marriage and having family, freedom of choice in childbearing, rights of children – for more information, see chapter Family & children
  • Education and schooling – for more information, see chapter Education
  • Expression of national affiliation, the right to use one’s own language and script

There is no death penalty in Slovenia and torture is prohibited.

2. Political

  • Right to vote (only for citizens above the age of 18) – for more information, see chapter Political system
  • Right of assembly and association
  • Asylum (within the limits of the law, the right of asylum shall be recognised to foreign nationals and stateless persons who are subject to persecution because of their commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms) – for more information, see chapter International protection

3. Social and economic

  • Freedom of work – for more information, see chapter Employment
  • Right to social security – for more information, see chapter Welfare benefits and social security
  • Right to health care – for more information, see chapter Health
  • Rights of disabled persons – for more information, see chapter Information for different groups

4. Rights of national communities – the autochthonous Italian and Hungarian national communities in Slovenia have special rights.

If you think your human rights and fundamental freedoms have been violated, you can contact the Ombudsperson. For more information, see chapter Protection against discrimination.

Which are the rights and duties of Asylum seekers?

Rights and duties of asylum seekers are defined in International protection act (http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/47f1fdfc2.pdf).

If you are an asylum seeker in Slovenia, you have the right to:

  • live (reside) in Slovenia;
  • follow the procedure in a language you understand;
  • obtain information;
  • free legal aid in procedures before the Administrative and the Supreme Court before the decision becomes final;
  • basic care in case of accommodation in the asylum centre (accommodation, food, clothing and footwear, hygienic accessories – for more information, see chapter Housing;
  • financial assistance in case of private accommodation – for more information, see chapter Housing;
  • emergency medical treatment – for more information, see chapter Health;
  • education – for more information, see chapter Education;
  • access to the labour market: as an asylum seeker, you are allowed to work if 9 months have passed since submitting the application, if you have not yet received any decision. For more information, see chapter Work;
  • Humanitarian aid;
  • pocket money (18 Euros/month).

Vulnerable persons with special needs have the right to special treatment – for more information, see chapter Information for different groups.

Asylum seekers have the duty to obey the Slovene law and house rules in the asylum centre and to cooperate in the asylum procedure. However, you do not have the right to family reunification before you get a reply concerning your application.

What are the rights and duties of persons granted international protection?

Rights and duties of persons granted international protection are defined in the International protection act (http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/47f1fdfc2.pdf).

If you have been granted international protection in Slovenia, you have the right to:

  • information on the status, rights and obligations of persons with international protection,
  • permanent residence in the Republic of Slovenia – for more information, see chapter International protection,
  • accommodation in the accommodation capacities of the Ministry (integration house) – for more information, see chapter Housing,
  • financial assistance for private accommodation – for more information, see chapter Housing,
  • health care – same as Slovene citizens (for more information, see chapter Health),
  • social care – same as Slovene citizens (for more information, see chapter Health),
  • schooling and education – for more information, see chapter Education,
  • employment and work – for more information, see chapter Work,
  • assistance during the integration process.

Vulnerable persons with special needs have the right to special treatment – for more information, see chapter Information for different groups.

Persons under international protection have the duty to obey the Slovene law. They also have the right to family reunification under certain conditions (for more information, see chapter Information for different groups.

How to get Slovene citizenship?

If you are a person that has been granted international protection, you have the right to acquire Slovene citizenship under certain conditions:

  • you have been living in Slovenia for 5 successive years (that means actually living in the country – not leaving it for longer periods of time)
  • you are at least 18 years of age;
  • you have a guaranteed permanent source of income at least equal to the amount that ensures material and social security (in practice, you have to be employed or have regular income for 2 years continuously (if you have a permanent job) or 6 months (if you have a temporary contract));
  • you passed a basic level exam in Slovene language;
  • you were not sentenced to an unconditional prison sentence longer than three months, nor conditionally sentenced to prison sentence with probation longer than one year;
  • your residence permit in the Republic of Slovenia has not been annulled;
  • you do not represent a threat to the public order, security or defence of the State;
  • you settled all your tax obligations;
  • you submit a declaration that, by obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Slovenia, you agree to respect the legal system of the Republic of Slovenia.

The application for citizenship is submitted at the administrative unit. There is a lot of paperwork to fill out and the procedure can last a long time.

What are my duties if I live in Slovenia?

As an equal member of the Slovene society, you have to respect the law. If you want to be a part of community, you should also actively participate and work together with the local population. This can be done through socially useful work such as volunteering (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteering) or community activities. This is a way to show your willingness to integrate in the new society and to contribute to its development and at the same time a precious opportunity for cultural and social exchange and personal growth of both you and the locals.

What are the duties of the Slovene state?

The state has the corresponding duties to provide you with the equality and all the rights stated in the Constitution (more info at the top of the page).

Slovenia commits to supporting the process of integration of foreign citizens. This can be realized through the collaboration with different organizations and institutions, depending on your status. For more information, see chapter International protection.

Further information & links

– Information for foreigners: http://www.mnz.gov.si/fileadmin/mnz.gov.si/pageuploads/DUNZMN_2013/DUNZMN_2014/Informacije_za_tujce_-_ANGLESKA.pdf

– How to get Slovene citizenship: http://www.mnz.gov.si/en/services/slovenia_your_new_country/citizenship/

Protection against discrimination

What is discrimination?

Discrimination refers to unfair or unequal treatment of an individual (or group) based on certain characteristics. Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and respectfully. When someone is discriminated against, it means they are being treated badly or unfairly based on their personal characteristics.

Protection Against Discrimination Act is the most important law in this domain in Slovenia. It is prohibited to discriminate a person because of his/hers race, ethnicity, skin colour, gender, language, religion, political or other beliefs, national or social origin, property, trade union membership, education, social status, marital or family status, age, health condition, disability, genetic heritage, gender identity and expression and sexual orientation.

Discrimination is not limited to persons with some of the above-mentioned characteristics or belonging to a certain group. The discrimination can also occur if you are perceived as a person or as someone connected to a person or group of persons with certain characteristic.

When individuals or organisations treat you differently from everyone else because of your age, nationality, disability etc. they are discriminating you. Discrimination can be a horrible and hurtful experience and, in many instances, it is against the law and regarded as a form of violence. Nevertheless, you should be aware that not every difference in treatment is a form of discrimination.

Some examples of discrimination:

  • someone saying hurtful, offensive things or attacking you or making fun of you (making jokes about you)
  • being excluded or left out
  • having a group of people gang up on you
  • being made to do hurtful or inappropriate things
  • being threatened
  • finding yourself having to defend who you are and what you believe against stereotypes and untrue claims.

It is against the law to be discriminated in these areas of public life:

  • workplace, labour market, employment
  • education, science and sports
  • accommodation
  • social welfare, pension system, social and health insurance
  • health
  • government services – access to justice and administration
  • accessing goods, services and facilities
  • public information and media
  • membership in trade unions, NGOs, political parties and other organizations
  • participation in culture and arts.

How can I be protected against discrimination and where can I seek help?

If you think you have been discriminated, you can contact Ombudsperson’s Office, which is the central body for human rights. They can give advice to victims, investigate the facts of a case, and investigate proceedings. They can also refer you to other institutions that can help you and protect you.

In addition, Ombudsperson can:

–  provide necessary information to natural and legal persons with regard to their rights and obligations and to the possibilities of court and other protection,

– warn the public about the occurrence of discrimination,

– conduct surveys concerning discrimination, giving opinions and recommendations, and suggesting appropriate legal and strategic solutions.

If you want to file a complaint to the Ombudsperson, you can do that in writing (mail, fax or e-mail), by phone or in person. Ombudsperson should give you an answer to your complaint.

If you think your child has been discriminated, you can turn to the specialized Ombudsperson – the Ombudsperson for children.

You can also contact civil society organisations that work with victims of discrimination and/or provide legal aid.

Living in the community & neighbourhood

How is the community organized in Slovenia?

In Slovenia, living in the city is much different from living in rural areas. In cities, the atmosphere is more private, neighbours barely know each other, while in the countryside, people are much more connected. It is quite common that a neighbour has the keys of other neighbours` houses to water their flowers while they are away. J

In rural areas, communities are strongly connected. It is common that people get together and help each other. On one hand, that is very nice and convenient, but on the other, you may miss the privacy – your neighbour always knows where you are.

In Slovene society, it is expected to respect others, their rights and their privacy. You will also need to respect some societal rules such as not to disturb the public order.

It is not permitted to smoke in restaurants and public places. In Slovene society, contact that is more “energetic” can be quickly regarded as aggressive and violent and people can feel offended. You should pay attention to your voice (intonation, height) as the screaming and yelling (even if not in anger) are not tolerated.

Communities in Slovenia are officially divided into city quarters or local/village communities, which carry out administrative matters at the lowest level. They are engaged in meeting public needs of the community. Through local communities, the inhabitants of a certain area can influence the events in their community.

Communities are arranged in such a way that each community provides main public services like kindergarten, school, health centre or doctor, grocery store, ATM, public transport and cultural and leisure activities. Community is also connected through different associations, NGOs and interest groups, which organize different events on the local level.

What are the societal norms of living in the neighbourhood?

Slovenes are a very hospitable but rather closed nation, so the norms in the society are quite strict. If living in a multi-flat building, you should obey the house rules strictly. You should take care of common goods, as they are your own.

There should be no loud noises between 10pm and 6am (time to sleep/rest) and if somebody disobeys the rules, people may call the police. In addition, people expect you to respect their privacy. You should announce your visit before ringing the door. However, Slovenes will probably be more welcoming if you invite them to a cup of coffee.

Usually, multi-flat buildings have a building manager who is responsible for taking care of common areas and goods. In addition, inhabitants pay extra for maintenance and costs of common areas (cleaning, electricity in the hallways etc.). Most big buildings have a council of tenants, which meets regularly and adjudicates on common matters (renovations, adaptations etc.). For more information, see the chapter on Housing.

Garbage and recycling

Recycling is mandatory in Slovenia. We divide trash into 5 categories and we have separate bins for each of them: paper and card, recyclable plastic and metal, glass, biological waste and mixed waste. In addition, you must use a recyclable or paper bag for biological waste (or no bag, but then your bin is dirty and smelly all the time). Usually every house or block of apartments has their own bins, with appropriate containers to put your waste in. The waste disposal service comes to pick up the trash according to their timetable (they pick up one category of trash each day of the week). In some cases, you have to put your bin on the street so they pick it up easily. You can be fined if you do not recycle or if you throw your garbage in the street.

Garden and courtyards

If you live in a house and have a garden, make sure you cut your grass regularly (if you will not use if for planting). If you live in a building, often there are common courtyards. Courtyard is a meeting point for everyone in the area and often a play area for children. Everyone has to be careful about plants, shrubs, and other common facilities and use the garbage bins provided in the courtyard.

Pets

Pets are very common in Slovenia. They are treated as part of the family and there are regulation for protection and safety of animals, meaning that no animal should be maltreated, beaten or stoned. If you have a pet, you have to take care of it.

Dogs have to be kept on a leash at all times while outside your apartment. If you use public transport, dogs also have to wear a muzzle. It is also your responsibility to clean after your pets (to pick up dog poop etc.).

If you have a pet, it can be more difficult to find apartment as not every landlord allows pets. For more information about pets and the accommodation, see chapter Housing.

Further information and links

 

 

 

Family & children

How to be a parent in a new country?

Coming to a new country, especially for those who are forced to move, can be difficult for both parents and children. As a parent, you might be faced with cultural norms, customs and legal obligations regarding parenting that are different from what you are used to and the ways you were brought up as children.

Sometimes, children find it easier to integrate into the new community than their parents do. Children naturally learn the language quicker, especially if they go to school and spend time with their peers.

This can lead to changing roles in the family and putting too many responsibilities on the child. It is important for parents to stay supportive to the development of the child and realization of their potentials. This includes allowing the child to pursue his/her own interests.

What should I know about family, marriage & partnerships?

Traditionally, family in Slovenia constitutes of man, woman and their children.  Many couples live together and have children before they get married, some also choose not to marry at all. If they live together as a couple for a long time, they have the same rights as married couples.

It is also very common that a man and a woman are in a relationship for a while, even years, before they decide to marry. Moreover, it is not very common that a man ask a woman to marry him right away.

Two women or two men can get married or form a partnership, which means their relationship is legally recognized and in rights equals to marriage between men and women. However, same sex couples in Slovenia cannot adopt children.

The wedding ceremony can be civil and religious. For a wedding to be valid, it must be performed by a registered and approved officiant. A civil marriage is a ceremony unconnected to any religion.

If the wedding is a religious ceremony performed by a celebrant who does not have the right to solemnise marriages, the marriage is not official in the eyes of the law. For it to become official, a civil marriage is also required.

In Slovenia, you can only be married to one person at a time. To marry, both woman and man have to be over 18 years of age. Marriage between blood relatives (e.g. parents, siblings, cousins etc.) is not possible.

Slovenian law also forbids forced marriage. This means that no one can force anyone else to marry. Everyone has the right to decide whom he or she wants to marry. You always have the right to say no to getting married.

Both man and woman have equal rights and responsibilities. They are both allowed to work if they want to and choose what kind of work they do. They decide where they want to live together, if they want to have children or not and how many children they would like to have.

They have to participate in taking care of their children and household equally. All family members have to respect one another, should help each other and support each other.

Every person above the age of 18 has to financially support their parents if they are unable to work and do not have enough money to sustain themselves.

What are my duties as a parent?

In Slovenia, children have special rights and as parents we all need to respect them. The main document pertaining to the children’s rights is the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Every person under 18 years of age is considered a child. Every child is equal and has equal rights. Children you adopt are equal to your biological children. Male children and female children are equal and should be treated equally.

You should never leave your child under the age of seven without supervision of a person that is at least 16 years old. This includes leaving your child alone at home.

Children also have other rights:

  • to go to school; parents’ duty is to take them to school and pick them up;
  • to relax and play and to join cultural, artistic and other recreational activities;
  • to think and believe what they want and to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights;
  • a right to privacy;
  • to meet and to join groups and organisations according to their interests and appropriately for their age.

Children have the right to quality healthcare; if they are poor or do not have anybody to take care of them, they are entitled to get help from the state. Children who have any kind of disability have the right to special care and support.

Children have the right to be protected from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. They have the right to live with their parent(s), unless living with the parents is dangerous for the child. Children whose parents do not live together have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might hurt the child.

If you are a person with international protection and you are separated from your family (from your parents and brothers/sisters (child) or your children (adult)), you have the right to family reunification – your family members have the right to come and live with you.

Children have the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally. It is forbidden for parents to hurt or mistreat the child in any way. The law forbids any form of discipline involving violence. Beating, hurting or mistreating child in other way can be punished by financial fine or with imprisonment.

If parents do not meet the children’s existential, emotional and social needs, the Centre for Social Work will warn them about their parental mistakes. If they decide that parents need help with the upbringing of their child, they will provide professional assistance. In that case, a professional might come to your house according to the agreement and give you advice and support.

If the child’s life or health are seriously in danger, the social services might temporarily place him/her outside the family. The child will then be provided with care in special and safe accommodation or a foster family until the risk or problem is resolved.

If children are severely or continuously mistreated and/or neglected, the court can decide to restrict parental rights or take away parental rights completely.

The Office of the Ombudsperson for Children and Centre for Social Work are in charge of protecting the rights of the child.

What if I get divorced?

A man or a woman can ask for a divorce if they do not want, for whatever reason, to stay married any longer. Divorce can happen if one or both partners want to end the marriage.

For spouses who want to get divorced and have underage children together, counselling in Centre for Social Work is obligatory. One of the purposes of the counselling is for spouses to agree on where children will live after the divorce, the time they will spend with each parent, how important decision in the interest of the child will be made etc.

Usually, after the divorce man and woman do not live together anymore. However, even if they do not live together, both parents have to continue taking care of the children they have together. Each parent has the right and obligation to spend time and create emotional relationships with their children.

Child custody means that the legal guardians, usually the parents, have legal responsibility for the child.

If a child does not have parents or parents lose their parental rights, the state appoints another adult person as legal guardian. Parents or other persons who are legal guardians have the right and obligation to care for the child, make decisions and act in the best interest of the child.

The law states that children must have legal guardians until they are 18 years old. If your child continues studying after the age of 18, you have to support him until he or she finishes school (but until the age of 26 maximum). If parents are divorced, this is usually the obligation of both parents.

The best option is that parents that divorce agree on custody of the children. If they cannot agree, the court will decide on the custody and which parent the child will live with. A parent, who does not live with the child any longer, will have to provide financially for the child. If parents cannot agree about financing the livelihood of the child, on where the child will live, it will be determined by the court during divorce proceedings.

Where to get help and support regarding family and parenting issues?

It is good to seek professional help if you have doubts and difficulties regarding family and parenting. Social workers, psychologists, school counsellors and other professions provide help and support.

If your child attends kindergarten or school, the easiest way is to talk privately with counsellors or teachers there. They will connect you to other services if needed.

You can also contact the social worker in the Centre for Social Work who will give you the information and connect you to the appropriate service.

There are many other providers of help and support, such as counselling services in non-profit organizations, where you can schedule and appointment and get help and support free of charge and without referral.

Link:

Convention on the Rights of the Child: http://www.varuh-rs.si/index.php?id=105&L=6

 

Protection against violence

How am I protected against (gender based and domestic) violence and where can I seek help?

Violence is not common in Slovenia and most forms of violence are punishable. Violence is generally prohibited. Slovene Constitution states that any type of maltreatment as well as any reference to or incitement to war or use of violence, to national, racial or religious hatred or any form of intolerance shall be prohibited and is punishable by law.

Violence against women is the most common form of violence in Slovenia. There is special Law on Protection against Domestic Violence. Family violence includes any use of physical force or psychological pressure; causing feelings of fear; physical attack regardless of whether or not it results in physical injury, verbal assaults, insults, cursing, name-calling and other forms of severe disturbance; sexual harassment; illegal isolation or restriction of the freedom of movement or communication with third persons.

There are different organization that can offer you help and provide psychosocial treatment.

If you are victim of any of these behaviours, you should contact the Centre for social work or police on the common urgent number 113. If you witness violence, especially violence against children, you should call the police or Centre for social work immediately. There are also organizations that can offer you legal advice (listed below).

You can be protected against violence by:

  • eviction of the offender from home;
  • a restraining order;
  • injunctions against stalking and harassing the victim.

The court can impose fines or jail sentences on the person who is violent (perpetrator).

Other types of violence

Hate crime is a crime committed based on differences in race, skin colour, religious beliefs, national or ethnic origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or a group because of their specific characteristics (see the chapter on Protection against discrimination – hyperlink to Protection against violence). Both hate speech and crime are prohibited and punishable according to the Criminal Code.

In school, children can be victims of bullying, which is also a form of psychological violence. In digital age, we are all more exposed to cyber violence (online harassment).

For any of these forms of violence you can contact the police or human rights organisations.

Links:

Amnesty International Slovenija: www.amnesty.si

Pravno informacijski center (PIC) – Legal information centre: http://pic.si/

DNK – Association for nonviolent communication: https://www.drustvo-dnk.si/en.html

Contracts and binding agreement

Which forms of contracts exist and how are they regulated in Slovenia?

A contract is a binding agreement concerning certain rights and duties of both contract partners. Contracts can be made in a written form or orally.  Although oral contracts are abided by, it is advisable to agree on a written contract – also depending on the issue.

Oral contracts are widespread on daily issues. Written contracts are common for: mobile phone, rent of room/flat, electricity, heating, employment, service, loans (for loans see chapter Money and finances).

Before signing a contract, you should read it carefully and make sure you understand everything. It is also advisable to compare different providers, as often there is more than one company offering the same service (for example electricity), and the quality of services and the prices vary among different providers. Generally you need a residence permit (and in the most cases a bank account in Slovenia) in order to sign a contract.

Men and women have the same rights, so both are allowed to agree on contracts in equal capacity. The extent of the rights and duties depends on the age of the person agreeing to a contract. Full contractual capacity (above the age of 18) means that you are entitled to conclude any business and contracts. You yourself are responsible for your behaviour and all its consequences regarding the respect of the contact.

Between the ages of 14 and 18, you have limited legal capacity. That means that you cannot make important decisions by yourself; your parents or legal guardians must also sign the contract.

You are allowed to work as far as your wellbeing or school attendance is not at risk. Under some conditions, you can gain full contractual capacity before the age of 18 (if you get married, have a child).

Some people have limited legal capacity even after the age of 18 due to incapacity to make rational decisions (people with mental disorders, people with addictions).

What should I know about employment contracts in general?

Employment contract should be written and signed before you start working. For more information on employment and different work contracts, see chapter Employment.

Most contracts underlie the collective agreement protection. This means the contract ensures that all employees earn at least the minimum wage and ensures labour rights. The collective agreement is negotiated by the Work Union once a year.

What are consumer rights? Is there a service for protection of consumer rights?

You can choose and purchase goods and services on the market freely – beware that various providers offer different services at different conditions and prices.

Market Inspectorate of Republic of Slovenia is responsible for surveillance of execution of Slovenian legislation on areas of consumer protection, product safety, trade, catering, crafts, services, pricing, tourism, competition protection and copyright (http://www.ti.gov.si/en/).

Money and finances

How to open a bank account?

In Slovenia, you will need to open a bank account for transferring or receiving money. There are many different banks to choose from that offer similar types of services, but the price of the service may vary greatly, so it is recommended that you first check different providers and choose your bank according to your needs. Also, check what documents you need for opening an account. Some banks have stricter rules for foreigners then others (and most banks do not open bank accounts for asylum seekers).

There are different types of accounts: personal and business, depending on which type of person (natural person or legal entity) you want to open an account. There are also different bankcards: the most common is personal bankcard (Maestro, Visa), but you can also choose among credit, debit and prepaid cards. There are different conditions and modes of use. Not every bank offers the entire variety of cards.

What are the modes of payment?

In Slovenia, the currency is Euro, and the most common way of payment is in cash or by card. You cannot pay with cheques in Slovenia. For expenses and payments of invoices, payment orders are used, which the service provider will send for utilities (telephone, electricity, TV, heating etc.) monthly to the address where you live. You can pay them via the e-bank that you can arrange when opening a bank account, via a long-term payment order, at a bank or at a post office. Payment orders with a bar code can also be paid in most tobacco shops. Commissions for the payment can vary considerably (bank and post offices are the most expensive).

How can I pay my bills?

You must pay your bills regularly. The date of payment is indicated on each invoice and a service provider can charge you interests, if your payment is late. If you do not pay your bills, for example electricity, the service provider will disconnect it, and you will have to pay the due costs as well as any costs associated with disconnecting and subsequent re-connecting of the electricity.

What should I be careful about?

If you handle money badly and do not pay your invoices and expenses, you can quickly fall into debt, so it is advisable to learn how to manage your money in order to have control over spending. There are many costs associated with living in Slovenia, as well as in Europe. It would be prudent to devote some of your income to savings each month.

Also, be careful when borrowing large amounts, as you may not be able to repay them and you can only accumulate additional debts. Because of that, you may no longer benefit from certain services or benefits. If you are in debt, the creditor or the state can automatically take a certain amount of revenue from your bank account if you do not repay your debts in time.

Information and links:

Bigger banks in Slovenia:

  • NLB – Nova ljubljanska banka
  • NKMB – Nova kreditna banka Maribor
  • SKB
  • Abanka Vipa
  • Banka Koper
  • Deželna banka Slovenije
  • Gorenjska banka
  • Addiko Bank
  • Delavska hranilnica

What is typically Slovenian

What are the habits of Slovene people?

Slovenes are a small nation that lives on a small territory. Sometimes Slovenes joke we all know one another. Slovene language uses the dual grammatical number in addition to the singular and the plural, which many find very romantic. The capital, Ljubljana, translates as The Loved One. In Slovenia, everyone speaks at least one foreign language.

Slovenia is the first country nominated as the greenest country in the world – 63% of Slovenia is forested (and still inhabited by brown bears). There are also over 10,000 caves in Slovenia. The best known, Postojna cave, is about 20km long.

Slovenians are keen on outdoor sports. When warm weather begins, you will see people out cycling, running or hiking. Skiing is definitely the national sport. Every winter when either skiing or ski jumping competitions are on, Slovenes are cheering for the athletes in front of their TV sets.

Another popular way of spending time is mountaineering. If you are a true Slovene, you have to climb Mt. Triglav, the highest peak in the country, at least once in your lifetime.

Slovenes will quickly open up to good food, drink and good company. Every region in Slovenia has its own typical dish. Best known are kranjska klobasa (sausage), štruklji (made from different types of dough and with various fillings), potica (rolled-up cake with walnut filling – Slovenes can prepare more than 70 different fillings for it), prekmurska gibanica (a sweet cake made of shortcrust pastry and several layers of filo pastry laid between apple, walnut, cottage cheese and poppy seed fillings) and kremšnita (cream cake filled with custard cream). We should also mention the massive production (and consummation) of wine in Slovenia.

Slovenes have many odd habits. One of the oddest and also the most amusing to foreigners is a closet full of slippers. When you visit Slovenes at their home, don’t be surprised if they ask you to take off your shoes and offer you slippers J.

International protection

What is international protection?

International protection is recognized to persons who are forced to flee from their countries of origin because of well-founded fear of being persecuted or of undergoing serious damage.

What types of international protection are there?

There are 2 types of international protection: status of refugee and subsidiary protection. Both of them are defined International protection Act (http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/47f1fdfc2.pdf).

  • Refugee

Refugee status is granted to a third-country national who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of belonging to a certain race or ethnic group, a certain religion, nationality, special social group or political belief, is outside the country of which he or she is a citizen, and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country, or a stateless person who is outside of the country of his or her former habitual residence and is unable or, owing to well-founded fear, unwilling to return to it.

  • Subsidiary protection

Subsidiary protection status is granted to a third-country national or a stateless person who does not qualify for refugee status, but in respect of whom substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the person concerned, if returned to his or her country of origin, or in the case of a stateless person, to the country of his or her former habitual residence, would face a justified risk of suffering serious harm.

How can I apply for protection/asylum in Slovenia?

You can apply for international protection in Slovenia even if you have entered the state illegally and are without documents. As an applicant you will have to justify the circumstances of persecution or serious harm that have motivated the flight.

The procedure for international protection is the following:

  • Asylum application

When you come to Slovenia as an asylum seeker, you have to apply for asylum. Therefore you can address any police officer or any police department in the state. If you apply for international protection, you will be taken to one of the asylum centers.

Firstly, registration and medical examination will take place. In a short period of time, you will be asked about reasons for seeking protection and description of your travel to Slovenia. Before that, you have the right to be informed about your rights and options in the language you understand.

Later on, you will have the interview, where you will have to present your story and evidence in detail. You must provide documentation/evidence to justify the application (newspaper articles, photos, official documents such as complaints or medical reports). The lack of documentation or the time of application cannot be the reasons for the rejection of the application. You can be interviewed more than twice if it is necessary.

You will receive your identity card of asylum seeker. This will be your identity document. Please pay close attention to the spelling of your name when your personal data are collected in the first interview in the asylum center. The spelling will determine how your name will be written in the future: on your identity card, on your convention passport, etc., it will be written exactly as it is recorded in this interview.

  • Verification of responsibility

The authority in charge will examine whether Slovenia or another country is competent for your asylum application. You have to actively participate in this process. You must provide all of your information to the authority in charge (for example, your name and date of birth). You cannot get asylum in Slovenia if you have already been in another safe country.

If Slovenia is responsible for your asylum procedure, the authority in charge will examine your application for asylum. You will not gain asylum if you have left your country of origin for economic reasons (for example, because you did not have enough money in your country of origin). Show the authority in charge all the documents you have. The authority must be able to reach you in the course of the asylum procedure. You must come to the appointments on time. You must remain in asylum center in Slovenia during your asylum procedure.

  • Decision

The authority in charge will examine your application for asylum. The procedure should take maximum 6 months but in reality, can last up to 2 years or even more (month or two for those who are relocated or resettled). The decision has to be communicated in written form with relevant information about the rights, duties, timing and means to complete the application. The decision can be as followed:

  • recognized international protection – refugee status or subsidiary protection
  • application rejected
  • if you have already been registered in another country or you already applied for protection in another EU country, your application is also rejected – in that case, you are deported to that country

If you receive a positive decision, you gain the status of refugee or subsidiary protection – you may stay in Slovenia.

In the case of rejection, there is the possibility of re-exam, but exclusively when there are new documents previously not available to provide. Otherwise, you can present an appeal.

  • Appeal

Appeals against a negative first instance decision have to be submitted to the Administrative Court. You will be assigned a free legal adviser to help you with the appeal. If the legally binding negative decision in your asylum procedure remains, then you must leave Slovenia. You are accommodated in Center for foreigners in Postojna (50km out of Ljubljana). This is a closed type of accommodation, which means you cannot leave. From there, your deportation to home country is made.

What if I do not apply for international protection?

If you don`t apply for asylum, you are accommodated in for foreigners in Postojna (50km out of Ljubljana). This is a closed type of accommodation, which means you cannot leave. You can stay there for maximum 1 year (in practice it can take even longer). If you do not apply for international protection, you can be deported.

Where will I stay as an asylum seeker?

As an asylum seeker waiting for the decision about protection, you will be accommodated in the asylum center. There are 3 asylum centers in Slovenia, 2 in the capital city Ljubljana and one in Logatec, about 30 km from the capital city. In asylum center you will have your basic material needs satisfied: food, clothes and hygienic accessories. You will receive a small amount of pocket-money (18 euros). Basic health care services and recreational, educational (language courses) and occupational activities are also available. Psycho-social and legal help and support is provided by various organizations that are active there. For more info, see chapter Housing.

In special circumstances (for example, if you have health problems) you are allowed to live outside of asylum center as an asylum seeker. You have to apply at Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants after one month of living in the asylum center.

What rights do I have as an asylum seeker?

As an asylum seeker you are entitled to proceedings according to the respective legal standards. The principle of non-refoulement is respected. This international principle prohibits the deportation of persons to countries in which inhuman treatment or torture threatens, and forbids refugees to be sent back to countries where they risk persecution.

Rights and duties of Asylum seekers are defined in International protection act (http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/47f1fdfc2.pdf).

If you are an asylum seeker in Slovenia, you have the right to:

  • live (reside) in Slovenia
  • follow the procedure in a language you understand
  • obtain information
  • free legal aid in procedures before the Administrative and the Supreme Court until
  • a decision becomes final;
  • basic care in case of accommodation in the asylum center (accommodation, food, clothing and footwear, hygienic accessories – for more information, see chapter Housing.
  • financial assistance in the case of accommodation at a private address – for more information, see chapter Housing.
  • emergency medical treatment – for more information, see chapter Health.
  • education – for more information, see chapter Education.
  • access to the labor market – for more information, see chapter Work.
  • humanitarian aid – for more information, see chapter If you feel lost in your country.
  • pocket money (18 euros/month).

Vulnerable persons with special needs have the right to special treatment – for more information, see chapter Information for different groups.

What obligations do I have as an asylum seeker?

As an asylum seeker you must cooperate in the asylum proceedings, in other words to appear at all the meetings set down by the authorities, to tell the truth about all the reasons why you cannot return to your country of origin (or another country), and if possible to prove your reasons. Asylum seekers have the duty to obey the Slovene law and house rules in Asylum center. However, you don’t have the right to family reunification before you get the answer about your application.  All children have to go to elementary school (for more information, see chapter Education.

Which are the rights and duties of persons granted international protection?

Rights and duties of persons granted international protection are defined in International protection act (http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/47f1fdfc2.pdf).

If you are granted international protection in Slovenia, you have the right to:

  • information on the status, rights and obligations of persons with international protection
  • permanent residence in the Republic of Slovenia – for more information, see chapter International protection.
  • accommodation in the accommodation capacities of the Ministry of Interior (integration house) – for more information, see chapter Housing.
  • financial assistance for private accommodation – for more information, see chapter Housing.
  • health care – same as Slovene citizens (for more information, see chapter Health)
  • social care – same as Slovene citizens (for more information, see chapter Health)
  • schooling and education – for more information, see chapter Education.
  • employment and work – for more information, see chapter Work.
  • assistance with integration (provided by Integration counsellor)

Vulnerable persons with special needs have the right to special treatment – for more information, see chapter Information for different groups.

Persons under international protection have the duty to obey the Slovene law. All children have to go to elementary school (for more information, see chapter Education). They also have the right to family reunification under certain conditions (for more information, see chapter Information for different groups.

Further information & Links

What is relocation

What is relocation?

Relocation is an EU solidarity programme that involves relocating individuals in need of protection from a member state of the European Union to another EU member state. The programme aims to relieve the pressure on individual member states, particularly those located at the external borders of the EU. The basis for relocation programmes are joint decisions of European Union member states.

Which current relocation programmes exist in the EU?

Because of the increase in the immigration of people seeking protection within the European Union, in 2015 two new relocation programmes were agreed upon. In May 2015, the European Union confirmed a relocation programme for 40,000 individuals from Italy and Greece.

A further relocation programme followed in September 2015 for 120,000 people seeking protection. Under these resolutions, a total of 160,000 individuals from Greece, Italy, and Hungary are to be admitted to various EU countries within 2 years. Following the resolutions, Hungary refused to participate in the relocation programme so the relocations only come from Italy and Greece.

What is the legal basis of the current relocation programme?

The legal basis are the decisions of the EU Commission for the redistribution of refugees in “countries of arrival” (Italy and Greece) to other member states and the decisions of the responsible ministry of the (target) member state. Persons that enter the state via a relocation programme are treated legally as asylum seekers.

How does the relocation programme work?

The selection of protection-seeking individuals in the relocation programme is based on proposals by national offices in Italy and Greece, with the support of the staff of the EASO (European Asylum Support Office).

Afterwards, the Slovene Ministry for Internal Affairs grants approval for admission in Slovenia. Relocation involves individuals who have already applied for asylum in Greece or Italy and among whom a high protection rate of at least 75% is expected. People seeking protection who have already applied for asylum in another European country are not considered for the relocation programme by the national offices.

As a person admitted to Slovenia via relocation, you must complete the full asylum procedure upon arrival. After your registration, the process is the same as for all asylum seekers including an application for asylum and later an interview.

What steps do I have to take if I am selected for relocation?

The National asylum authorities in Greece and Italy can select you as a candidate for relocation with the support of the European Asylum Support Office https://www.easo.europa.eu/ . They then propose you to the Slovene Ministry for Internal Affairs. As soon as it grants approval for admission, IOM http://www.iomvienna.at/en gets involved. If you choose to accept the decision for relocation, IOM will have you on your list with the beneficiaries that have been selected for relocation.

IOM then starts implementing important pre-departure activities to ensure you are well informed about the process and can travel safely and with dignity. A pre-departure health assessment and a fit-to-travel check before departure ensure that your health needs are assessed.

IOM also provides pre-departure orientation sessions for you, sharing key information about Slovenia and the relocation programme. This is a valuable opportunity to obtain basic information on the country you will be relocated to, manage expectations and inform you of the initial post arrival reception and early integration assistance.

Regarding the journey itself, IOM manages the movements, conducts a pre-departure embarkation session during which you are informed about the practical details of the travel, provides medical or operational escorts for the flight if necessary, supports groups in transit where needed and welcomes and receives you upon arrival at the airport.

How long does it take to be relocated?

If it is decided that you are eligible for relocation, the transfer should be completed as quickly as possible. It will take 2 months approximately.

What will happen when I arrive in Slovenia?

After your arrival, you will be accommodated in one of the asylum centres (for more information about asylum centres, see chapter Housing (link). First, registration and medical examination will take place. In a short period of time, you will be asked about your reasons for seeking protection and to describe your travel to Slovenia. Before that, you have the right to be informed about your rights and obligations in the language you understand.

Later on, you will have the interview, where you will have to present your story and evidence in detail. You must provide documentation/evidence to justify the application (newspaper articles, photos, official documents such as complaints or medical reports). The application cannot be rejected due to the lack of documentation or to the time of submitting the application. You can be interviewed more than twice if necessary.

You will receive your identity card of asylum seeker. This will be your document of identification. Please pay close attention to the spelling of your name when your personal data is collected during the first interview in the asylum centre. The spelling will determine how your name will be written in the future: on your identity card, on your convention passport, etc., it will be written exactly as it is recorded in this interview.

The authority in charge will examine your application for asylum. Show the authority in charge all the documents you have. The authority must be able to reach you in the course of the asylum procedure. You must come to the appointments on time. You must remain in the asylum centre in Slovenia during your asylum procedure.

The procedure should take around month or two. The decision has to be communicated in written form with relevant information about the rights, duties, timing and means to complete the application. The decision can be as follows:

  • recognized international protection – refugee status or subsidiary protection (for information about statuses, see chapter International protection),
  • application rejected.

If you receive a positive decision, you gain the status of refugee or subsidiary protection – you may stay in Slovenia.

In case of rejection, there is the possibility of re-examination, but exclusively when there are new documents that were previously unavailable. Otherwise, you can lodge an appeal.

Appeals against a negative first instance decision have to be submitted to the Administrative Court. You will be assigned a legal adviser free of charge to help you with the appeal. If the legally binding negative decision for your asylum procedure remains, then you must leave Slovenia.

You will be accommodated in the Centre for foreigners in Postojna (50km out of Ljubljana). This is an accommodation of the closed type, which means you cannot leave it. From there, you will be deported to your home country.

Where will I live?

As an asylum seeker, you will be accommodated in an asylum centre. When you gain protection, you can stay in the Integration house or at a private address. For information, see chapter Housing.

What rights do I have?

The rights you have depend on your status. For information, see chapter Rights and responsibilities.

Which social welfare services are available to me?

The amount of state support you receive depends on your status. For information about social services, see chapter Welfare benefits and social security.

Can I bring my family to Slovenia?

If you are granted international protection and you have family in your country of origin or in another country, you have the right to family reunification. Family members, who can be reunited with you according to the Slovene law, are:

  • husband or wife (if you are married) or partner with whom you are in relationship for a longer time, but only if you were in relationship before you came to Slovenia;
  • yours and your spouse’s or partner’s underage children and adopted children; children who are adults (over 18 years of age) can be re-united with you if they are unmarried and attending school;
  • your parents or legal guardians (persons who have parental rights over you), if you are a child (under 18 years);
  • under special conditions also your other close relatives (for instance elderly parents, with whom you lived in a common household and who are dependent on your care).

The system regarding family reunification is quite complicated. There are different rules for people with different statuses:

  • Asylum seekers

As an asylum seeker, you cannot bring your family to Slovenia.

  • Persons with granted international protection during the first three months

If you were granted protection, you can bring your family to Slovenia. The whole family should apply within 3 months of the moment you receive asylum. It is much easier to bring your family to Slovenia in the first three months then later, so you should do it as soon as possible.

  • Persons with granted protection after the first three months

If you want to bring your family to Slovenia more than 3 months after the protection was granted to you, you need to meet certain requirements (sufficient income, health insurance and travel documents). These are often very difficult to meet, so it is much better to apply within the first 3 months.

Family reunification is an administrative procedure that can be complicated and prolonged. It is recommended to consult the organizations providing legal help and assistance to refugees and migrants (PIC, Slovene Philanthropy, and Red Cross) to avoid mistakes.

Further information & Links

What is resettlement?

What is resettlement?

Resettlement is a tool/way to protect particularly vulnerable refugees. They are transferred from the first host country, to which they have fled from war, conflict or persecution, to a third (host) country that offers them admission and refugee protection. UNHCR http://www.unhcr.org/, the UN Refugee Agency, has developed specific criteria for the selection of refugees considered for resettlement.

Most refugees look for protection in immediate neighbouring countries (only a small percentage ever leaves to distant countries of the European Union to seek asylum there), but reliable assistance and long-term prospects are not always guaranteed there.

What are the criteria for admission to resettlement?

UNHCR has developed eight criteria for the selection of refugees to be considered for resettlement, the so-called “UNHCR Resettlement Submission Categories”. In general, refugees must first be registered and recognized by UNHCR. According to UNHCR, individuals who meet at least one of the following criteria are considered for resettlement:

  1. Legal and physical protection needs.
  2. Survivors of violence and torture.
  3. Medical needs.
  4. Women at risk.
  5. Family reunification.
  6. Children and adolescents.
  7. Elderly refugees.
  8. Lack of local integration prospect.

UNHCR assesses individual resettlement needs with these criteria and then suggests which people should be selected. The final decision about the admission of a person is, however, the responsibility of the third host country. Many countries have additional national admission criteria that are not the same as those of the UNHCR.

How does the resettlement procedure work?

  • The selection and transfer of a refugee as part of a resettlement process is a complex process involving various international and national actors. In order to benefit from a resettlement procedure, you must be recognized as a refugee by the UNHCR. Additionally, there has to exist a special degree of vulnerability – you have to meet the criteria mentioned above.
  • If at least one of these criteria is met and there is no lasting solution for you in the country of origin or the first host country, the UNHCR proposes you to the third host country for resettlement. You as a refugee cannot apply for the program yourself.
  • This resettlement application is based on your approval.
  • The final decision about your admission is, however, the responsibility of the third host country. Many countries have additional national admission criteria that do not coincide with those of the UNHCR.
  • Application process is carried out in the first host country, where also decision about your status is made.
  • If you gain international protection, the necessary formalities and preparation are set for departure.
  • IOM https://www.iom.int/, the International Organization for Migration, conducts cultural orientation trainings before departure and organizes your trip to the host country.

What will happen when I arrive in Slovenia? Where will I live?

After your arrival, you will be accommodated in the Integration house or in a private accommodation, provided and financed by the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants.

You can stay in the Integration house free of charge for one year, and prolong it for a maximum 6 months. After that, you have to find your own accommodation, but you do get financial assistance from the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants.

After 3 years altogether, your right to financial aid ends, so you have to pay for your accommodation by yourself. It is good to prepare for this by saving some money. The association Odnos can help you search for an apartment (http://odnos.si/en/). For more information about accommodation, see chapter Housing).

What rights do I have?

For information about rights, see chapter Rights and responsibilities.

Which social welfare services are available for me?

For information about social services, see chapter Welfare benefits and social security.

Further information & Links

 

Information for different groups

What are special provisions for women and girls?

Women and girls – refugees, especially if they are alone, face more risks. That is why they have the right to have their specific needs addressed when they are asylum seekers as well as when they are granted international protection.

Women and girls are considered to be in greater risk of various forms of violence just because they are females. This includes physical and sexual violence against women, domestic violence, forced marriage, crimes of “honour”, trafficking for prostitution or forced labour and other forms of persecution and violence. These may be considered as reasons for granting international protection to women and girls.

As a woman (more than 15 years of age), you have the right to submit an individual asylum application even when accompanied by family members. This means that your request will be treated and examined separately of the request of members of your family, but you will get common decision for all family members together. You are entitled to be interviewed by female staff during the asylum request. You should also be provided with women interpreters; however, in Slovenia this is not always possible because of the lack of (qualified) women interpreters for many languages spoken by refugees.

In the asylum centre, women and girls should be accommodated separately from men and boys, except when they want to be accommodated with their family. In practice, departments are not strictly divided and private bathing and sanitation facilities for women and girls are not always provided.

Girls and women’s rights and protection:

  • Girls have the right to education, according to their wishes and circumstances. Elementary education is obligatory and girls are enrolled in schools regardless of their status. They can also choose to go to secondary school both as asylum seekers and as refugees. Women refugees can also enrol to universities according to the chosen university’s criteria. For more information, see chapter Education.
  • Women and girls have health care rights depending on their status. Usually they can all use health care services regarding their reproductive health (women’s health). Pregnant women and women who gave birth have the right to the same maternal health care services as Slovene nationals, free of charge, whether they are asylum seekers or have been granted international protection. This includes regular health exams, medications if needed and counselling during pregnancy, hospital care and assistance during and after childbirth. For more information, see chapter Health.
  • If a woman or a girl is a victim of domestic violence (violence committed by the member of her family) she can ask for special protection. She has the right to be separated from the perpetrator and protected by the police if necessary. If she wishes, she can go to a special shelter for women and children – victims of violence. The location is safe and is kept a secret from those who may hurt her. She is entitled to medical and psychological help. For more information, see chapter Protection against discrimination.
  • If a woman or a girl – victim of domestic violence is asylum seeker, her application will be examined separately if she wants to. If she has already been granted asylum or she has temporary residence, she can obtain renewal of the residency independently of her family member (husband or partner). This applies also to women and girls who got their temporary residence as a result of family unification.
  • If a woman or a girl is a victim of human trafficking, which means she is exploited, by tricking or forcing, for prostitution, forced labour or other activities she does not want to be involved in, she can ask for special protection. Whether she is asylum seeker, refugee or has residence, as soon as she is recognized as victim of trafficking she must be protected, provided with safe accommodation, medical, psychological and legal help. She will also be informed and counselled on her rights regarding temporary residence, legal prosecution of perpetrators and other rights; this is part of the assistance and protection programme for victims of trafficking.

In Slovenia, specially trained police officers, staff of Centre for social work and civil society organizations are in charge of protecting and helping victims of trafficking. Društvo Ključ and Slovenska Karitas (in cases the violence occurred in Slovenia) also offer safe accommodation for the victims. If you are a victim of trafficking you are not considered responsible for the things you were forced to do.

Standard operative procedure (SOP’S) system is provided for all who are victim of any kind of violence.

For more information, see chapter Protection against violence.

What are special provision for men & boys?

Men and boys can also be victims of violence. The procedure in these cases is the same as the procedure in cases of violence against women.  Men and especially boys can also be victims of forced labour and are in greater risk of falling victims to trafficking (see related chapter).

What are special conditions, rights, services & support for children?

According to the Slovene law, every person under the age of 18 is considered a child. Children are recognized as a vulnerable group and have the right to be especially protected, even when accompanied by adult relatives.

The legal guardian files the application for international protection in the name of the child. This is usually a parent or other person who has legal responsibility for the child. The asylum application of the child is included in the application of child’s parent(s) or legal guardian.

Children who are asylum seekers should not be separated from accompanying parents or relatives. The exception is when there are reasons to suspect that staying with parents or relatives may harm or endanger the child.

In such cases, officials in the asylum centre should inform the specialised child protection services, which will take actions to place the child in safe accommodation. Children who are staying with family members have the right to be accommodated separately from other adult asylum seekers.

All children under 18, including asylum seekers, those granted international protection and temporary residence, have the right to health care under the same conditions as Slovene citizens. For more information, see chapter Health.

Children under international protection or with temporary residence permit can attend kindergartens near their place of residence. Preschool children who are placed in asylum centre (asylum seekers) cannot attend kindergarten. Usually, basic childcare is organised by NGOs (non-governmental organizations) who work in the asylum centre.

All children have the right to education. Children – asylum seekers – should be enrolled in school as soon as possible. If the child does not speak Slovene, he or she is entitled to preparatory language classes as well as extra support in language and other school subjects. During the first year of school, the child has the right not to be evaluated (he/she goes to classes but does not get grades).

Elementary school is obligatory. The child who already started schooling in another country will be tested before continuing school in Slovenia. This means that sometimes the child will be enrolled in grade bellow his/her age if the school finds it is necessary.

Secondary school is not obligatory but every child has the right to go to secondary school. Children have the right to choose what kind of secondary school they want to go to, but some schools have entry limit, so acceptance depends on achievements in elementary school. If you started secondary school, you have the right to complete it, even after reaching the age of majority (after turning 18). For more information, see chapter Education.

What are special conditions, rights, services & support for unaccompanied children?

If you are under 18 and there are no adults with you who are your family, relatives or are legally responsible for you, you are considered an unaccompanied child. Unaccompanied children are considered a vulnerable group and have the right to be special protection.

If you are an unaccompanied child, you will be accommodated separately from other adult asylum seekers – usually in a student house or in the asylum centre. You will get a guardian who will take responsibility for you and will have the mandate to make important decisions in your best interest.

However, you should be informed and the guardian should talk to you about every decision about you. Your guardian has to give you information on your rights, services that are available to you and the opportunities you have.

You have the right to be reunited with your family, whether your family is in your country of origin or in some other country, but there are some conditions you have to meet. The procedure is quite complicated and it can last for a long time, but some organisations can help you (PIC, Slovene Philanthropy). Also, you have the right to be in contact with your family.

If you decide to apply for asylum, your application has priority in the decision-making process. Your legal representative and your guardian have the obligation to prepare you for the interviews regarding your asylum application.

As an unaccompanied child (person under 18), you have the right to health care under the same conditions as Slovene nationals. For more information, see chapter Health.

You also have the right to go to school, in accordance with your age and interests. Your previous education will be assessed in order to decide which school grade you will start with. The additional classes and support in learning Slovene will be provided. For more information, see chapter Education.

As long as you are in Slovenia, you are entitled to psychological help, support and guidance if you need it. Your guardian has the obligation to connect you with professionals and organizations who are helping young refugees.

Children and youth who are separated from their families or travel without adult family members are considered particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking. That means smuggling and exploiting children and youth, by force or by blackmail, for forced labour, prostitution, begging or other criminal activities. The police officers you get in contact with, social workers, your guardian and some organizations (Društvo Ključ, Slovene Philanthropy) can help you by providing protection and support if this has happened to you. You can be accommodated at a secret location so other people don’t know where you are and cannot find you.

What are special conditions, rights, services & support for families?

Families have the right to be united and to stay together. Asylum seeking families are accommodated together in the asylum centre. The family applies together and their application will be processed together but all adult family members (over 18) must apply for asylum separately; application of children until the age of 15 is included in the application of the parent(s), while children of 15 years or more have to fill out their own application.

Single parents with underage children are considered vulnerable and should be especially protected. If you are an asylum seeker, you should be accommodated separately from other adult residents.

If your family is granted international protection you have (same as everybody) the right to live in the integration house (depending on availability) and financial aid for accommodation.

If you are granted international protection and you have family in your country of origin or other country, you have the right to family reunification. According to the Slovene law, the following family members who can be reunited with you:

  • husband or wife (if you are married) or partner with whom you are in relationship for a longer time, but only if you were in relationship before you came to Slovenia
  • yours and your spouse’s or partner’s underage children and adopted children; children who are adults (over 18) can be reunited with you if they are unmarried and enrolled in school;
  • your parents or legal guardians (persons who have parental rights over you), if you are a child (under 18)
  • under special conditions also other close relatives (like elderly parents, with whom you lived in a common household and who are dependent on your care).

Family reunification is an administrative procedure that can be complicated and last long. It is recommended to consult the organizations providing legal help and assistance to refugees and migrants (PIC, Slovene Philanthropy, Red Cross) to avoid mistakes.

What are special conditions, rights, services & support for persons with disabilities?

Persons with disabilities are those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments. This includes wheelchair users and people with other mobility impairments, blind and deaf people, people with mental health issues – or ‘psychosocial disabilities’ – and people with intellectual disabilities.

Persons with disability are considered particularly vulnerable and have the right to special protection and treatment. This means that they have the right to be accommodated, as asylum seekers, separately from other adult asylum seekers in the asylum centre.

In some cases, disability – usually problems with psychological health and intellectual disabilities can prevent the person to make decisions, which are in her/his own best interest. In such cases, the law permits for the person’s legal capacity to be restricted.

This means that the person is not completely independent to make legally binding decisions. Such a person must have a legal guardian who supports and assists them in decision making in the best interest of such person. This includes decisions regarding applying for asylum.

The legal guardian should participate in every stage of the asylum decision process but he/she cannot act in the name of the asylum seeker with disability.

Restricting legal capacity is a very delicate issue, so you are person with disability or you know one who might need assistance in participating in legal matters, it is recommended to ask for legal help (PIC).

If you are a person with disability, you have the right to health care appropriate for your condition, whether you are asylum seeker or granted international protection. For more information, see chapter Health.

You have the right to education, depending on your status and age, same as asylum seekers or persons granted asylum who have no disability. This means that, as asylum seekers, persons with disability have the right to elementary and secondary education, if they are under 18 years of age. Persons with disability who are granted asylum have the same rights to education as Slovene nationals.

Elementary school is obligatory also for children with disabilities. Children and youth with disabilities have the right to go to secondary school and university, if they want to. Throughout the course of their education, children and youth with disability are entitled to assistance in order to attend school and learn. For more information, see chapter Education.

Persons with disability have the right to work, if they meet the conditions. If you are a person with disability granted asylum, it is recommended to ask about employment measures for persons with disability. This information can be obtained from Employment Agency or from associations for persons with disabilities.  For more information, see chapter Employment.

Discrimination of persons with disability is forbidden. If a person with disability experiences discrimination – that he or she is treated differently from persons without disability, he/she has the right to be protected.

In such case, you can ask for advice or file a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsperson, or contact association for persons with disability. Beware, however, that there are usually no interpreters for your language in institutions and organizations which are not specialized in helping foreigners. You might need to ask someone who speaks Slovene and your language to help you. For more information, see chapter Protection against discrimination.

What can I do if I am a victim of human trafficking?

Victims of human trafficking are persons who are controlled by others, in order to be exploited for things they would not choose to do on their own or to work without payment. Victims can be recruited and sometimes sold by acquaintances, relatives or criminal gangs, often with promises of well-paid jobs.

They are usually transported from one country to another or from remote rural areas to cities. Victims are manipulated, forced, blackmailed or tricked by traffickers, their documents and financial means are usually taken away so as to make them completely dependent on the traffickers.

Victims are often physically, sexually and psychologically abused; this sometimes includes keeping them under control by using drugs. Traffickers exploit victims or transfer them to other countries for purposes such as forced labour, prostitution, criminal activities or other activities victims would not normally choose to do.

Women and children, particularly unaccompanied children, are most at risk to fall victims of trafficking. However, men can also become victims, usually to be exploited for forced labour.

You can become victim of trafficking in your country of origin, during the journey and even in the destination country. That is why it is necessary to be very careful when someone offers help in transportation, crossing the borders and makes promises of good jobs. Caution is necessary even if this person is someone familiar, including relatives.

Victims of trafficking are considered particularly vulnerable in asylum procedure. They have the right to special protection and assistance from the moment they are identified as victims of trafficking. They are placed in safe accommodation and provided medical, psychological, social and legal assistance, as soon as possible after being identified.

The main actor in this field is an organization called Ključ. They are trained to provide special protection programme for victims of trafficking. You can also turn for help to police officers, asylum centre staff, and international organizations such as UNHCR, Red Cross or other civil society organizations working in asylum centres or in the field.

Standard operative procedure (SOPS) system is provided for all victims of any kind of violence. A group of professionals discusses each case of violence individually and decides how to react in order to protect the victim.

Victims of trafficking who are foreigners have the right to stay in safe accommodation and can decide to accept the programme of protection offered to them. During this period, a person cannot be expelled from the country.

Participation in the protection programme is voluntary. The victim will be informed about the programme, help and assistance available and conditions he/she needs to comply with in the language he/she understands. No decisions should be made without the victim’s consent. If the victim of trafficking accepts to be included in the protection program, he/she has the right to temporary residence for one year, with the possibility of extension.

Assistance and support are not dependent on the victim’s willingness to cooperate with the police and judiciary system. Identity and personal data of the victim are protected as confidential information and are not made public. Victims of trafficking should not be prosecuted or penalised for activities they were forced to do by their traffickers.

If the victim of trafficking is a child, additional protection measures will be put in place. They will get a legal guardian, who has to make sure all decisions are made in the best interest of the child; the guardian is also obligated to inform the child and consult their wishes in all matters.

Victims of trafficking have the right to apply for international protection.

What kind of help can I get if I am a torture survivor?

Torture is prohibited and considered a major violation of human rights. Torture is intentional infliction of physical or mental pain, carried out by a state or government official for a specific purpose.

Physical torture can take the form of severe beating, electric shocks, burns, mutilation, rape and sexual assault, suffocation. The most common methods of psychological torture include humiliation, isolation, mock executions or amputations, threats and being subject to viewing the torture of others.

The perpetrators of torture, in most instances, are members of the police, prison guards, military forces or government officials. In some instances, the perpetrators of torture can be health professionals including doctors or nurses, or co-detainees, acting with approval or on the orders of a public official.

Torture survivors are considered vulnerable in the asylum process and have to be protected and their needs addressed. Having survived torture is considered a reason for granting international protection.

Torture survivors have the right of appropriate reception conditions. This means that they should be provided with medical and psychological rehabilitation services and legal aid, according to their individual needs. Usually such help to torture survivors is provided by specialized non-governmental organizations (Ključ, Slovene Philanthropy).

In some cases, if a person is identified as torture survivor, medical and psychological report can be added in support to asylum application. These reports are documents which provide evidence of the effects of torture on the physical and psychological health of the survivor. They are written by experts, usually psychologist, psychiatrists and medical doctors.

What are special conditions, rights, services & support for LGBTI?

LGBTI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. LGBTI persons may have special reception needs and/or reasons for international protection.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is forbidden by law. For more information, see chapter Protection against discrimination.

If you are LGBTI person, asylum seeker or a person who has been granted international protection, you might consider seeking support of LGBTI organizations. Some of them offer legal as well as psychological counselling.

Bear in mind that they may not have a qualified interpreter for your language.

Links:

Legal-Informational Centre for NGOs (PIC-Pravno-informacijski center): http://pic.si/about/

Društvo Ključ (Center for fight against Trafficking in Human Beings): http://www.drustvo-kljuc.si/o-pojavu-thb/

Slovene Philanthropy: http://www.filantropija.org/en

LEGIBITRA: LGBTI organization; https://legebitra.si/

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