Apply for asylum through UNHCR

UNHCR is responsible for processing asylum claims at the request of the governments in:

Anguilla 🇦🇮 | Antigua and Barbuda 🇦🇬 | Barbados 🇦🇮 | Bermuda 🇧🇲 | British Virgin Islands 🇻🇬 | Dominica 🇩🇲 | Grenada 🇬🇩 | Haiti 🇭🇹 | Saint Kitts and Nevis 🇰🇳 | Saint Lucia 🇱🇨 | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 🇻🇨 | Sint Maarten (Dutch part) 🇸🇽

If you are in these countries or territories and you wish to request asylum (refugee status), follow the steps below: 

Step 1. Contact us via email at [email protected] with:

  • Your name
  • Your phone number 
  • The country you are currently in 

Step 2. Interview

A UNHCR officer will contact you within about 14 business days and conduct a brief interview to collect your information and record it in UNHCR’s database. Upon completing this registration process, you will be issued an asylum seeker certificate. 

Step 3. Decision

A UNHCR officer will call you within about 30 business days to notify you about the date for your refugee status determination interview and gather information about your preferred language for the interview. The interview will be conducted remotely, and the UNHCR officer will find out whether you have a confidential interview space, a smartphone or a laptop with a functioning front camera and stable internet connection or if these facilities need to be provided through partners in the country of asylum. 

⬇️Frequently Asked Questions⬇️

What is the purpose of the refugee status determination interview?

The interview captures the reasons you left your home country or former habitual residence and the reasons why you cannot return.

It is an opportunity for you to put forward your case and fully explain your experiences and circumstances that led you to flee your home country and why you cannot return.

All information you provide to UNHCR during the interview will be kept strictly confidential. Based on the interview, UNHCR will determine whether you do or do not meet the refugee definition according to international refugee law. 

What happens during the interview?

  • This is your time to tell your story, and UNHCR staff will help you in that process. During the interview, you will be asked several questions about yourself, your family, any problems you may have had and your fear of return to your home country. 
  • Inform UNHCR about your family members accompanying you. All individuals over 18 years old will be interviewed individually. 
  • Carry and present all documents available to you and any family members accompanying you, such as passports, identity papers, birth certificates, academic certificates, employment records and other documentation which will help support your claim. 
  • It is important to only provide genuine identity documentation, as providing fake or fraudulent documentation may negatively affect the processing of your case and may lead to a negative decision. 
  • It is important that you cooperate with the UNHCR staff member during the interview and provide truthful and complete information at all times. Failure to provide a truthful and accurate account will negatively affect the processing of your case and may lead to a negative decision. 

What are your rights and responsibilities during the refugee status determination process?

  • You have a right to be interviewed in your preferred language. 
  • You have a right to be represented by an attorney or a legal representative, who qualifies as such under UNHCR’s established procedures, during the process. 
  • Each applicant has a different profile, background and reason for fleeing his/her country; hence, each case will be assessed individually, according to UNHCR rules and procedures. 
  • Do not pay attention to rumors spread among refugees about specific stories to be presented to be granted refugee status, as this will be providing a false account to UNHCR and will negatively affect the processing of your case and may lead to a negative decision. 
  • Intentionally misleading UNHCR about the facts of your case or your identity is fraud. Please note that this will negatively affect the processing of your case and may lead to a negative decision. UNHCR reserves the right to take appropriate measures in such cases. 

How long do I need to wait for a decision?

Due to the competing priorities and/or depending on the complexity of your case, you may need to wait for several days to months to receive our decision.

You may also be contacted for another interview before we complete your case.

We appreciate your understanding and patience. 

What happens if I am recognized as a refugee?

We will send a refugee certificate for you and/or your dependents via email from [email protected] informing you that you are recognized as a refugee. 

What happens if I am denied refugee status?

If you are denied refugee status after the first instance interview, you will receive a negative decision letter that contains an explanation of the reasons that led to the denial of the asylum application and a UNHCR officer will provide detailed counselling on the grounds for rejection in your preferred language. If you are notified with a negative decision, you have the right to submit an appeal request within 30 days. The notification letter will clearly explain where and how you can submit the appeal request. If you do not wish to file an appeal against the first instance decision denying your asylum application, your case will be closed. 

You should explain why you do not agree with our decision in your appeal application form. You may use this opportunity to present new issues or evidence that you did not present during your interview.  

You are required to submit your appeal application form through email to [email protected]. Ensure that your name and updated contact numbers are included in your email. 

What will happen during the appeal process?

The appeal process allows for UNHCR to review the first instance rejection and ensure that the decision made was a correct one. During the appeal process, different UNHCR protection staff members than the ones who were involved in the initial first instance decision review all appeal requests. Not all appeal requests will lead to an appeal interview and decisions in some cases can be made without an appeal interview. This is why it is important that you provide in your appeal application all the reasons why you believe the first instance decision is wrong. 


If an appeal interview is needed, you will be notified of the date of your appeal interview through a phone call and your preferred language for the interview will be confirmed.  


If the first instance decision is overturned, you will be granted refugee status and issued a refugee certificate. If the first instance decision is confirmed, you cannot appeal this decision as it is considered to be the final one and your file will be closed as you will be found not to qualify as a refugee under international law.

Does applying for asylum have a fee?

Applying for asylum or any service provided by UNHCR will always be free and you should not be requested to submit any form of payment for your application to UNHCR.  

If you are asked to submit payment during this process, please report the situation to UNHCR immediately through an email to [email protected]. 

Can I leave the country after I apply for asylum?

While awaiting the result of your asylum request, you must stay in the country from which you contacted UNHCR. If you leave this country, you must inform UNHCR and the government of your travel plans prior to your departure. If you leave at any time without prior communication, it may be considered abandonment of your asylum claim. 

For more information on local organizations that may be able to assist you in your country of asylum, please contact UNHCR at [email protected] with your name, your phone number and the country you are currently in, and we can provide information on a case-by-case basis. 

What are the next steps upon completion of the refugee status determination process?

In countries where UNHCR handles asylum claims, applicants will be individually counseled on their rights and responsibilities and be provided guidance regarding any additional steps that must be taken with the immigration authorities in the country of asylum.  

How can I renew my asylum seeker/refugee certificate?

In countries where UNHCR handles asylum claims, please send an email with a photo of your expiring certificate along with a photo of any official documentation to UNHCR at [email protected].  

UNHCR will contact you to schedule a renewal interview.

Please include your phone number and address in the email to ensure we use the most up-to-date contact information for you.

Please kindly provide your preferred days and hours of availability for the renewal interview.

We recommend requesting the certificate renewal two weeks before your certificate expires, and not earlier. 

  • All information that you provide to UNHCR is confidential and will be stored and protected according to our data protection policy.
  • The information you share with UNHCR will not be shared with third parties, including authorities of your country of origin. If you wish for UNHCR to be able to share details of your claim with a third party, you must sign a consent form first.
  • Please note that you can only seek asylum in the country that you are currently residing in.
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