I hold refugee status in the EU and I have a refugee travel document under the 1951 convention. I want to visit a specific country but this country doesn't accept refugee travel documents.

If I used the passport of my country of nationality, I wouldn't need a visa to travel to this country, but my passport is expired. If I renew my passport at the embassy and use it for traveling, would it affect my refugee status in EU?

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    Generally, that is one of the certain ways to lose refugee status. – Michael Hampton Apr 28 '16 at 5:18
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    Are you really acknowledged as a refugee under the provision of the UN Refugee Convention (which is actually quite uncommon in the EU) or are you acknowledged for subsidiary protection under directive 2011/95/EU? In both situations, you are colloquially called a 'refugee' but the difference is very relevant for your question. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Apr 28 '16 at 11:54
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo At least for Germany your statement that protection based on the UN Refugee Convention is quite uncommon is false. According to the BAMF (the German supreme authority for migration and refugees) in 2015 only 0,6% of the application were rules as subsidiary protection, whereas 48,5% where ruled based on the UN Refugee Convention and the German constitution (see bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/DE/Downloads/Infothek/Statistik/Asyl/… for the stats) – dirkk Apr 28 '16 at 13:32
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    the veery general answer here is "of course not". But moreover it's one of those questions where the answer is, for goodness sake, seek professional advice. – Fattie Apr 28 '16 at 18:00
  • I indicated that in my answer, but dear OP, if you would include your country of origin and the country you wish to travel to we could give you even better, more specific advice. – dirkk Apr 29 '16 at 11:45
up vote 13 down vote accepted

It depends, but most likely it is a very bad idea. First of all you have to realize that there is no "refugee status in the EU". Instead, you have been given the refugee status by some specific country (which itself is a member of the European Union). Many laws regarding refugees are defined by national laws and on top of that are some EU laws (especially the Dublin Regulation), so whether what you are doing is a bad idea depends on the country which issued your refugee travel documents.

However, it is most likely a very bad idea, because internationally it is well established that a refugee status can be revoked when you return to the protection of the country you were seeking refugee from. But again, this has to be established in the individual laws of the country, so to say for sure we would have to know which country you currently live in.

I can explain the example for Germany, the most populous country within the EU. I would suspect most (if not all) other European countries having similar laws. In §72 AsylG Absatz 1 Satz 1 it says:

Die Anerkennung als Asylberechtigter und die Zuerkennung der Flüchtlingseigenschaft erlöschen, wenn der Ausländer sich freiwillig durch Annahme oder Erneuerung eines Nationalpasses oder durch sonstige Handlungen erneut dem Schutz des Staates, dessen Staatsangehörigkeit er besitzt, unterstellt

which roughly translates to

The refugee status is void, if the foreigner voluntarily accepts or renews their passport or in any other way seeks the protection of the country of origin.

So to be clear: If you received your refugee status in Germany the action you proposed would definitely result in losing your refugee status. To be absolutely clear, this will certainly happen as the law explicitly does not define any special circumstances or "may" clauses - It is the only possible legal outcome.

I would also like to address your initial statement that you can't travel to this particular country because it does not recognize your travel document. However, all countries which ratified the 1951 or 1967 Convention should in fact recognize your documents. Wikipedia has a nice map showing these countries, with only the gray states not having joined the Conventions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_relating_to_the_Status_of_Refugees#/media/File:Refugeeconvention.PNG And even these states could still recognize your documents. The refugee travel documents are internationally widely accepted. Hence, I am a bit unconvinced that this country really does not recognize the document at all. However, it might be a lot more cumbersome (e.g. with your other passport you could travel visa free).

If you really want to travel to this country you should consult a lawyer how you could achieve that. But the way you proposed is not a good idea, given its possible drastic consequences.

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    Germany is the biggest country of the eu by what means? I wasn't aware of that. ^^ – Zaibis Apr 29 '16 at 10:48
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    @Zaibis sorry, I meant the most populous country. I just included this to stress the fact even the OP might not be in Germany, Germany still has some relevance in the EU - Not saying small countries are worse in any aspect, but given the political nature of the EU I guess German legislature is more important than that of many small countries. – dirkk Apr 29 '16 at 11:44
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    @Relaxed Well, I think your statement that I don't know the law on the subject is quite a harsh judgement and I wonder from what you think you know what I do or don't know. Of course there are more EU laws than Dublin regarding refugees, but there is also a lot defined by the individual countries. And the european standarization process is simply very minimal regarding refugees, their status and their rights. It is not really relevant what is on top of what, they are simply intertwined. – dirkk Apr 29 '16 at 22:46
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    @Relaxed Thanks for teaching me. However, you are reading things into my statements which are simply not there - I never said EU laws in this area are minimal and I simply said many things are defined in national law. Although you seem to think the refugee process is standardized within Europe, the reality, especially comparing the living conditions from refugees in different countries such as Sweden or Greece or Germany and Italy prove you wrong. – dirkk May 1 '16 at 18:50
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    I guess we have to agree to disagree. If you think my answer is incorrect you are free to downvote and/or to write a better answer. I honestly see no reason to continue this discussion. – dirkk May 1 '16 at 20:38

I'd be very careful and seek legal advice before doing this, perhaps from a local organization that assists refugees. In Canada, seeking protection, even just a new passport, from the country a refugee has fled can be cause to lose refugee protection. I haven't been able to find a definitive source that indicates the same applies in Europe (and it may depend on who is processing your application), but the underlying international law poses a concern for what you propose to do.

This is because the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 "shall cease to apply to any person if...He has voluntarily re-availed himself of the protection of the country of his nationality." Going to the embassy and renewing your passport could well be considered to be seeking protection from the country of your nationality, which could be grounds to lose your status as a refugee.

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    Well, "in Europe" does not really apply here as the refugee laws are heavily defined by the individual countries. However, I would assume in this aspect most of them are quite similar. At least in Germany I can confirm it is basically the same as Canada. §72 AsylG Absatz 1 Satz 1 (see gesetze-im-internet.de/asylvfg_1992/__72.html) says you lose the refugee status if you voluntarily accept or renew the passport of your country of origin. – dirkk Apr 28 '16 at 13:36
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    @dirkk Your comment is the best answer here. If you can post it as an answer, I will upvote it. – Dawood ibn Kareem Apr 28 '16 at 21:33
  • Agreed. If you don't post it as an answer, I'll incorporate it into mine. – Zach Lipton Apr 28 '16 at 21:37
  • I would think even if renewing a passport didn't invalidate the refugee status, travelling under that passport to a third country (different from both the passport issuer and refugee issuer) would almost certainly do so. – jskrwyk Apr 28 '16 at 23:39
  • @DavidWallace Well, I was to lazy to do so. But by your request I overcame my laziness and wrote an answer. – dirkk Apr 29 '16 at 9:44

The definition of a convention refugee:

owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country or return there because there is a fear of persecution

If you think you are OK with just walking into the embassy of your country then where is the "well-founded fear of persecution"?

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    There are a lot of refugees right now, who fled not because of persecution by their government, but rather because of war and the atrocities being committed by combatants. They may well still support their government but are unable to return due to war and the invading forces. – user13044 Apr 28 '16 at 10:25
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    @Tom - some might even suspect that most refugees are of that category. But evidently those are not necessarily convention refugees – CMaster Apr 28 '16 at 10:41
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    Well, what other refugees are there if not convention refugees? Here's the German gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_asylvfg/… law: "A foreigner is a refugee as defined in the Convention of 28 July 1951 on the legal status of refugees". I understand the plight of of those fleeing from Libya or Syria but where's the legal ground? – chx Apr 28 '16 at 11:17
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    @chx Most EU countries (I think except UK, Ireland and Denmark) have ratified directive 2011/95/EU, which grants subsidiary protection to persons who are not covered by the UN Refugee Convention, but who fear 'the death penalty or execution; or torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of an applicant in the country of origin; or serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict' if returned to his home country. These are usually also called 'refugees' in colloquial language. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Apr 28 '16 at 11:58
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    @chx There are many different types of refugee status in Germany. "convention refugees" (usually called GFK-Flüchtling, GFK standing for Geneva refugee confention). However, there is one even better status (refugee as based on the German constitution §16a) or other refugee status such as the mentioned subsidiary protection or even national deportation ban. They all have different results for the person, especially in the context of being allowed to work, for taking integration/language courses or reuniting with your family. – dirkk Apr 28 '16 at 13:43

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