Return of Asylum Seeker to Iceland Unlikely Skip to content

Return of Asylum Seeker to Iceland Unlikely

Kristín Völundardóttir, who heads the Directorate of Immigration, said it is unlikely that the asylum seeker who snuck onboard the research vessel Knorr in Iceland and traveled with it to the US will be sent back to Iceland.


Asylum seekers have repeatedly tried to sneak onboard ships at the Reykjavík harbor. Archive photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Stöð 2 reported on Saturday that the man had been brought to US immigration authorities when the ship arrived in Falmouth but Kristín told Morgunblaðið that the Directorate of Immigration has not received any notification to that regard.

However, on Wednesday, the directorate received request of information on the man from the US Department of Homeland Security. The directorate responded that the man was known by the name he gave the department but that his origin had yet to be confirmed.

The US is not party to the Dublin Agreement and Kristín said she is not aware of any regulations that obligate Iceland to take the asylum seeker back.

She does not recall any incident in the past ten to 15 years when US authorities requested to send an asylum seeker back to Iceland, although asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected in the US have sometimes requested to be sent to Iceland.

“Then we look into whether the individual in question has a residence permit or some connection with Iceland and if not we turn down the request,” Kristín explained.

The asylum seeker caught onboard Knorr had on several other occasions tried to leave the country as a stowaway, as have other asylum seekers in Iceland in the past months. The time it takes to process their applications has been subject to criticism. reports that the grassroots activist movement No Borders in Reykjavík are urging the managers of Icelandair to drop the damages case against two asylum seekers who recently tried to leave the country by sneaking onboard one of the airline’s planes.

Click here to read more about asylum seekers in Iceland.


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