After you submit your refugee status determination application form, photo, and any identity and supporting documents, UNHCR will issue an Asylum-Seeker Certificate for all persons included in your asylum claim (including you as the principal applicant and any dependents that you may have). The Asylum-Seeker Certificate is the official document confirming your status as an asylum-seeker in Trinidad and Tobago. The document states that as long as your claim for refugee status is in progress, you should be protected from forced return to your country of origin.
Interview with Immigration
After collecting your Asylum-Seeker Certificate at LWC, you will be scheduled for an appointment at the Refugee Unit of the Immigration Division. At this appointment, you will have an interview with an Immigration Officer with the assistance of an interpreter (in your preferred language) provided by the same authorities.
During the interview, you are required to submit:
- A copy of a utility bill (e.g. electricity bill or telephone bill) for proof of your address. The bill does not have to be in your name;
- Any identity documents that you have in your possession*;
- A passport photo of yourself and for any family members/dependents.
It is your obligation to attend the appointments with Immigration. If you are unable to attend because of compelling reasons, communicate this as soon as possible to LWC who can liaise with the Immigration Division on your behalf. Your authorization of stay will be extended based on requirements stated by the Refugee Unit.
*Note that the Refugee Unit will keep your passport as an alternative to detention.
Interview with UNHCR
A second interview will be scheduled and conducted by UNHCR to gather the facts of your claim for the refugee status determination procedure. You will receive a telephone call or email from UNHCR indicating the date, venue and time of your interview with UNHCR. It is your responsibility to keep LWC informed of any change in your contact information, particularly of your telephone number. Failure to provide information on changes to your personal contact information may delay communications to you about your case.
During this interview, the UNHCR officer will ask you questions about the information provided on your application and any supporting documents you submitted prior to your interview, including information on your identity, how you came to Trinidad and Tobago, the reasons you left your country of origin or the country where you used to live, and the reasons why you cannot return to that country. During this interview, you may also submit any other evidence that you consider necessary to support your claim.
You have the responsibility to cooperate with the interviewer and provide a truthful account of facts relevant to the claim so that a proper decision may be reached. Contradictions, inconsistencies, omissions and other uncertainties or doubts will be put to you for your comment or explanation. This includes information on the situation in your country of origin.
If you are unable to communicate with the UNHCR officer, you have the right to have an interpreter in the language of your preference, declared during registration. You may also ask for your interview and its interpretation to be conducted by a UNHCR officer of the sex of your choice, if available.
All information that you provide to UNHCR is confidential. The information you share with UNHCR will not be shared with external persons or with authorities of your country of origin.
Family members included in your application may be interviewed as well.
Please note that you may need to attend more than one interview.
Following your interview, UNHCR will determine if you are a refugee based on the refugee definition in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its own mandate.
The decision may either grant you refugee status or reject your asylum application.
Applicants who are recognized as refugees will be informed in writing and/or via telephone of their rights as refugees and be provided with guidance regarding any additional steps that must be taken with LWC and the Immigration Division.
Applicants whose claims are rejected will be informed through a notification letter, including the reasons for the rejection. Persons who receive a first instance denial have the right to appeal. An appeal application must be submitted to UNHCR within the indicated time frame.
For non-English speakers, a translation of the notification will be provided in the relevant language.
Denied Application and Appeal
Applicants whose claims are rejected will be informed through a notification letter, including the reasons for the rejection. Persons who receive a first instance denial have the right to appeal. An appeal application form must be submitted to UNHCR within the indicated time frame.
Depending on the reasons stated in your Appeal Application Form you may be called to another interview by UNHCR. If your appeal is rejected again or you chose not to appeal, you will no longer be considered an asylum-seeker and you will be subject to Trinidad and Tobago immigration procedures.