Applying for refugee status

Who is a refugee?

A refugee has been forced to flee their home country because his or her life, or the lives of his or her family members, are in danger. Refugees cross international borders fleeing wars, violence, persecution, serious human rights violations, and conflicts.

Who is an applicant for refugee status?

A person who, fleeing his or her country, has made an application in another country to obtain protection through refugee status.

According to the regulations in Guatemala, a person is considered a refugee when:

  • He or she is in Guatemala because he or she was forced to flee his or her country of origin due to fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, belonging to a certain social group, political opinions;
  • He or she is in Guatemala because his or her life, security or freedom have been threatened by situations of generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order;
  • He or she has suffered persecution through sexual violence or other forms of gender or sexual orientation persecution;
  • He or she cannot or does not want to return to his or her country due to his or her fears.

If you have been forced to flee your country of origin due to one of these reasons, you can apply for international protection (refugee status) in Guatemala for you and your family.

It is important that you know that Guatemalan immigration officers and officials should not deny you access to the territory of Guatemala and they will not be able to expel you to the country where you are afraid to return.

The refugee status application only represents the first step in the process to seek recognition as a refugee. After the application you will have to carry out an interview, where you will be able to tell confidentially why you had to leave your country. Then the authorities will determine if you qualify as a refugee.

If your case is denied, you can file an appeal to reconsider the information. UNHCR partners Pastoral de Movilidad Humana and Asociation El Refugio de la Niñez NGO puts at your disposal their services of a lawyer who can support you with the replacement appeal process, free of charge.