With the reception of a beneficiary of international protection in a given municipality, the mayor of the municipality or an authorized by him municipal official and the beneficiary conclude an integration agreement.
The integration agreement outlines the rights and obligations of the beneficiary, as well as the rights and obligations of the mayor of the municipality. The integration agreement and the individual integration plan bring along a set of interrelated rights and obligations between the mayor of the municipality and the foreigner. The mayor is assisted by the executive authorities within their powers to assist the mayor of the municipality and the beneficiary in implementing the agreement.
A coordination mechanism is established between the mayor of the municipality and the territorial units of the executive authorities in the course of the implementation and control of the integration measures under the agreement, e.g. a cooperation agreement, which defines the specific forms and ways of interaction on the basis of the statutory powers of the municipality and the territorial units of the executive authorities.
The integration agreement includes:
- the parties to the agreement;
- its duration;
- information on:
- level of education, professional experience and professional qualification;
- information on minors;
- other information concerning the foreigner while preparing his/her personal record received by the State Agency for Refugees with the Council of Ministers;
- specific integration activities;
- the rights and obligations of the beneficiary of asylum or international protection in Bulgaria;
- the rights and obligations of the mayor of the municipality;
- the terms and conditions for its amendment and termination.
Parties to the Agreement
The integration agreement is concluded between the beneficiary of asylum or international protection in Bulgaria and the mayor of a given municipality. In case the beneficiary is accompanied by adult members of his/her family, a common integration agreement is concluded.
Term of the Agreement
The integration agreement shall be concluded in writing for a period of one year. The term may be extended once for one more year at the suggestion of the mayor of the municipality and with the written consent of the beneficiary. Upon change of his/her address registration the foreigner shall have the right, on his/her own initiative, to conclude a new agreement with another municipality for a period no longer than the period of time remaining for the implementation of the first agreement. Beneficiaries, granted asylum or international protection in Bulgaria after July 1, 2014 may request the conclusion of an integration agreement, but not later than three years after receiving the decision for granting asylum or international protection.
Conclusion of the agreement
The process of integration in the respective municipality begins with the conclusion of an integration agreement, for which the mayor of the municipality and the beneficiary of asylum or international protection voluntarily state their wish before the State Agency for Refugees with the Council of Ministers.
In support of the conclusion of the agreement, the State Agency for Refugees is required to:
- draw up an integration profile of the foreigner during the procedure for granting asylum or international protection;
- provide information on the possibility of concluding an integration agreement during the procedure for granting asylum or international protection;
- provide the mayor of the receiving municipality with preliminary information on the age, gender, marital status, citizenship, level of education, availability of professional experience and professional qualification, skills and other available information about the beneficiary during the asylum and international protection procedure;
- assist the transportation of the beneficiary and his/her family members to the respective municipality;
- conduct information campaigns about the municipalities that have applied for concluding integration agreements among the beneficiaries of asylum or international protection and accommodated in its territorial units;
- provide information materials during the asylum and international protection procedure in which the rights and obligations resulting from the conclusion of the integration agreement are explained in a language, understandable to the foreigner;
- maintain a register of the municipalities that have applied for the conclusion of integration agreements, and of the already concluded agreements.
The beneficiary, wishing to conclude an integration agreement, may submit an application to the State Agency for Refugees during his/her procedure for granting international protection, as well as within 14 days after receiving the decision on asylum or international protection.
In order to conclude an integration agreement, the mayor of the municipality submits an application to the State Agency for Refugees. The application includes information on the number of beneficiaries of asylum or international protection with whom the mayor wishes to conclude such an agreement, as well as information about the municipality and the intended integration measures.
Integration measures and their practical implementation
The agreement covers the following integration measures:
- Housing of the beneficiaries of protection and their families.
- Enrollment in kindergarten and state or municipal school of children subject to compulsory pre-school and school preparation.
The enrollment in municipal kindergarten is done in compliance with the relevant Ordinance of the Municipal Council. The terms and procedure for admission and transfer to other schools of children from the 1st to the 12th grade are set by the state educational standard for the organization of school education activities. Minors and underage children seeking or granted international protection under the Law on Asylum and Refugees are entitled to free education and training in state and municipal kindergartens and schools in Bulgaria. When refugees are unable to meet certain access requirements at the beginning of their stay on the territory of the municipality, opportunities can be discussed to remove these obstacles in order to integrate children into the education system.
- Health insurance and medical services
The obligation for health insurance for foreigners seeking protection arises from the date of opening the refugee status or asylum procedure. During the procedure for granting international protection health insurance is covered by the state budget. Upon granting refugee or humanitarian status, the health insurance of the foreigner involved in integration measures under the Ordinance is paid by the municipality.
Individuals are entitled to:
- medical assistance within the basic package of health activities, guaranteed by the budget of the National Health Insurance Fund;
- the choice of a general practitioner (GP), a dental practitioner (dentist) or a medical establishment contracted with the Regional Health Insurance Fund (RHIF);
- emergency assistance where needed;
- obtain a document necessary for the exercise of their health insurance rights.
The municipality cooperates with the beneficiary when choosing a GP. Assistance to identify a suitable general practitioner may also be sought from the Regional Health Insurance Fund.
- Access to education
The agreement provides for inclusion in programs and measures for improving the professional qualification for employment purposes:
- provides vocational training
- provides mechanisms for inclusion of beneficiaries of asylum or international protection in lifelong learning policies.
- Information on job vacancies announced
The measures under items 6 and 7 include activities for informing and involving beneficiaries in projects funded by the state or implemented by the municipality for training and qualification of labour force.
The integration agreement may also cover other activities at the initiative of the host municipality.
The municipality may propose integration measures that are beneficial to its activities, such as employment in municipal structures, municipal public services, opportunities for internship in the municipality, etc.
Information on the measures under item 2 shall be submitted to the municipality by the Ministry of Education and Science, under item 4 by the relevant Regional Health Insurance Fund and under items 5, 6 and 7 by the respective territorial unit of the Employment Agency.
The integration agreement is accompanied by information materials in writing, explaining the rights and obligations ensuing from the integration agreement, as well as other rights and obligations deriving from the Bulgarian legislation in a language that is understandable to the beneficiary.
The municipality may seek the assistance of the State Agency for Refugees or NGOs regarding the content of the provided information materials.