Refugees status in South Africa

Refugees status in South Africa

THE Refugee Status Determination Officer HOLDS THE DISCRETION TO ACCEPT OR REJECT THE APPLICANT’S ASYLUM APPLICATION BASED ON THE INTERVIEW.

THE Refugee Status Determination Officer (RSDO) CAN MAKE ONE OF THREE DECISIONS:

  1. Claim approved.

If the application holds substantial grounds as provided by the applicant, the asylum seeker will be issued with a section 24(3)(a) permit under the Refugees Act. Depending on how the Refugee Reception Officer makes its final decision, the permit may be extended for a duration of two to four years. An approval of this application, allows the asylum seeker to apply for a refugee ID and travel document.

  1. If claim rejected as manifestly unfounded.

Within 5 days of rejection, the RSDO must provide the applicant with a rejection letter stating reasons why his / her application was rejected. The full written reasons must also inform the applicant of his right to an appeal challenging the RSDO decision to the Standing Committee on Refugees Affairs (SCRA). The applicant is given 14 days to prepare a written representation to SCRA to review his or her application.

If the SCRA decides to uphold the RSDO decision, the only possible next step to look for recourse is to appeal or review the decision to the High Court.

In case the SCRA does not uphold the RSDO decision and rules that its finding is incorrect, they must refer the case back to RSDO to re-decide the case following the instructions provided by the SCRA.

  1. If claim is rejected as unfounded

If the application is rejected as unfounded the applicant may appeal to the Refugee Appeal Board (RAB). The notice of appeal must be lodged to the RAB within 30 days of the rejection, (counting from the date the application was rejected). If the appeal is successful, the applicant will be issued with a section 24(3)(a) permit. If the RAB decides to uphold the RSDO decision the applicant may seek further assistance by making an application to the High Court.

What happens after Refugee status is granted?

One of two things can happen;

Provided that an asylum seeker has resided in the republic for five continuous years, counting from the date on which the Asylum was granted, a refugee is allowed to lodge an application to SCRA (in terms of S27(c) of the Refugees Act. If the SCRA approves the application, it officially permits the applicant to remain a refugee indefinitely. The applicant is also permitted to lodge an application for permanent residence at the VFS offices in South Africa.

Service Standard for permanent Refugee Status; Applications may take up to six months.

Cost; The service offered to asylum seekers is free of charge and there is no fee payable for eligibility and status determination interviews as well as issuance or renewal of section 22, section 24 and refugee IDs. Therefore, any person who requests an upfront fee must be reported as he or she is attempting to gain undue benefits.

For further information on how to apply for refugee status and the contact details of several NGO’s which offer assistance to asylum seekers free of charge – click on the link below; http://www.cormsa.org.za/

Please also check out our previous articles in regards of all information of asylum seeker to refugee status – Find out more here:

When applying for Refugee permit in South Africa – 3 stages

Forced Migration – the tricky, dangerous path leading an asylum seeker to refugee status

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