What is an Asylum?
The right of asylum is an ancient juridical concept, under which people persecuted by their own rulers might be protected by another sovereign authority, like a second country or another entity that in medieval times could offer sanctuary.
Asylum Offices In South Africa
ATTENTION! The Department of Home Affairs of the South African government runs the asylum process in South Africa. If you have come to South Africa to seek asylum, it is important to apply for asylum as soon as you arrive in South Africa. Asylum documentation is important for accessing certain services and protects you and your family from arrest.
How can you apply for asylum in South Africa?
You will need to go to the nearest Refugee Reception Office to apply for asylum. Follow these steps to start the process:
Choose a Refugee Reception Office where you want to apply for asylum. Your choices are:
- Cape Town Refugee Reception Office
- Durban Refugee Reception Office
- Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Office (Pretoria)
- Musina Refugee Reception Office
- Gqeberha Refugee Reception Office (formerly Port Elizabeth)
Remember you will need to travel to this office at your own cost, so choosing the one closest to where you live is important.
At the Refugee Reception Office:
- You will have to provide your biometrics (photographs and fingerprints). All family members listed in the form sent to the Department of Home Affairs will have to be present to give their biometrics.
- You will be asked to give brief reasons about why you are seeking asylum in South Africa.
- After applying for asylum, you and your dependents must be given an asylum-seeker visa. Each family member should be given an asylum-seeker visa (also known as a ‘Section 22 permit’). Make copies of these documents and always keep them very safe.
- You will have an interview with a Refugee Status Determination Officer. The interview could happen on the day you make your asylum application, or you could be asked to come on a different day for this interview.
Where can I get asylum in South Africa?
If you have fled your country of origin for fear of persecution, and you do not have legal documents such as a passport or visa, you must apply for an asylum seeker’s permit at the nearest Refugee Reception Office (RRO).
How long does the asylum process take in South Africa?
Ideally, you should receive a decision regarding your status as a refugee within three months of your application; however, because of severe backlogs, this process takes much longer.
How much does asylum cost in South Africa?
There is no fee payable for eligibility and status determination interviews as well as issuance or renewal of section 22, section 24 and refugee ID. Service to asylum seekers and refugees is free of charge.
Does an asylum allow you to work in South Africa?
With regard to employment, recognized refugees and asylum-seekers have the right to seek employment under the Refugees Act and the international conventions that South Africa has signed, as well as the Constitution. This includes the right to self-employment, and the right to enter into contracts and leases.