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Safe conduct

Document granted by a country's authorities to a foreign national, enabling him/her to reside in this country or to travel.


Schengen (area)

This is an area where citizens are free to move between the European territories of States that signed the Schengen Agreement (named after the town in Luxembourg where it was signed on 14 June 1985). The principle of free movement of persons implies that any individual (whether a national of the European Union or a third country), having entered the territory of one of the member countries, may cross the borders of the other countries without being subjected to border checks. A passport is no longer necessary in the context of free movement. Flights between towns in the Schengen Area are considered internal flights.
List of countries concerned: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland.


Social group

This notion of "social group" applies to individuals who claim to be different from the norm prevailing in their society in some way and, as such, are vulnerable to persecution. According to the European "Qualification" Directive, "a group shall be considered to form a particular social group where in particular: members of that group share an innate characteristic, or a common background that cannot be changed, or share a characteristic or belief that is so fundamental to identity or conscience that a person should not be forced to renounce it, and that group has a distinct identity in the relevant country, because it is perceived as being different by the surrounding society". In this context, such grounds may only be cited in a given country at a given moment. In this regard, acts or fears of persecution may come from third parties, traditional or religious authorities (e.g. female circumcision in Mali), where they are tolerated, in full awareness, by the public authorities of the country in question

Stateless person

According to the New York Convention of 28 September 1954, the term stateless person shall apply to "a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law". Ofpra is tasked with granting stateless person status to those who request it in France and with providing them with legal and administrative protection.


Subsidiary protection

Introduced by the Asylum Act of 10 December 2003, this protection is granted by Ofpra to any person who does not qualify as a refugee but who is exposed in his/her country to one of the following serious threats:

a) the death penalty
b) torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
c) serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict.

Persons who benefit from subsidiary protection receive a one year, renewable, "private and family life" residence permit.