About Asylum Service

The Asylum Service was established under Law no 3907/2011. It is the first autonomous institution in Greece that is in charge of the examination of international protection claims.

The purpose of the Asylum Service is to apply national legislation and to abide by the country’s international obligations regarding the recognition of refugee status and, more generally, the granting of international protection to aliens who have fled their country due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and who are unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country.

To this purpose, the law provides that the Asylum Service receives, examines and decides on all applications for international protection lodged in Greece. The Asylum Service also contributes to the formulation of Greek policy on international protection and cooperates with international organisations and the European Union institutions in the areas of its remit.

The Asylum Service is composed of the Headquarters, the Regional Asylum Offices and the Asylum Units. The Headquarters plan, direct, monitor and control the actions of the Regional Asylum Offices and Αsylum Units throughout the country and ensures the necessary conditions for the pursuance of their activities.

The Asylum Service also provides administrative support to the Appeals Authority (which was also established by the law 3907/2011) and examines appeals against negative decisions on applications for international protection.

Fifty percent of the annual funding needs of the Asylum Service and the Appeals Authority is covered by state funds, while for its remaining needs the Asylum Service applies for funding to the European Commission and the European Economic Area.

From April 2018 until today, Markos Karavias is the Director of the Hellenic Asylum Service. Maria Stavropoulou was the Director from 2012 until February 2018.


Markos Karavias - Director

Markos Karavias is the Director of the Asylum Service of the Hellenic Republic. Prior to this Service, Dr Karavias worked as an Assistant Professor in International Law at the Universities of Utrecht and Amsterdam. Between 2014 and 2016, he conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Amsterdam on a project funded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. He has in the past acted as a Special Adviser to the Minister for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change of the Hellenic Republic, as well as a Member of the Asylum Appeals Committees of the Hellenic Republic under Presidential Decree 114/2010.

Dr Karavias holds a law degree and a Master’s in International Studies from the Law School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, as well as a Magister Juris (Distinction), a Master of Philosophy in Law, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Law from the Law Faculty of the University of Oxford. His research on international law, refugee and human rights law has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals.

He is a member of the Athens Bar Association and has served as a counselor on human rights and refugee law cases.

He speaks English, German and French.

Ioannis Sfirakis - Deputy Director

Ioannis Sfirakis is the Deputy Director of the Hellenic Asylum Service from February 2020. He is a specialist in International Affairs and holds a Masters’ degree in Political and Economic studies of the Mediterranean region. He graduated from the Department of Mediterranean Studies of the Aegean University in 2007. He was a consultant of the Minister of Labor and Social Insurance from October 2008 to June 2009. Prior to this role, he served in the Organization of Insurance for the Self-Employed and was responsible for programs pertaining to pensions’ liquidations. From 2013 to 2019 he was a Human Resources consultant. In October 2019, he acted as an advisor on social insurance issues for the Undersecretary of Labor and Social Affairs. He is fluent in English and Turkish.

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