Refugee Status Determination (RSD)

All services provided by UNHCR and partners are free of charge.

Refugee Status Determination (RSD) is the process by which governments or UNHCR determine whether someone is a refugee or not.  

As Indonesia is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and does not have a national asylum system in place, UNHCR carries out RSD under its mandate in Indonesia.  

What is the purpose of an RSD interview?

During an RSD interview, a UNHCR officer will talk to you to understand why you left your home country and cannot go back. This interview allows UNHCR to gather the evidence that it needs to accurately decide if you are a refugee according to the 1951 Refugee Convention [insert link to 1951 Convention] and whether to grant you international protection. 

Who is a refugee?

The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a refugee as someone who has been forced to flee his/her/their country of origin or previous residence and is unable to return there because there is a reasonable likelihood that he/she/they will face persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, or because of generalised violence (such as war or conflict) or other events seriously disturbing public order.  

Refugees come to Indonesia seeking safety. They cannot return home due to the persecution or serious harm they are likely to face if they return.  

How can I get an appointment for an RSD interview? I have been waiting for a long time.

UNHCR understands the frustration over long waiting periods. We appreciate your understanding and patience. 

Indonesia’s legal framework does not distinguish between asylum-seekers and refugees; both have the same rights and protections in Indonesia according to Indonesia’s Presidential Regulation on the Handling of Refugees (No. 125 of 2016).  UNHCR and partners do not make any distinction between refugees and asylum seekers when providing assistance.  If you qualify for a particular form of support or assistance, you will be supported regardless of whether you are a refugee or an asylum seeker. 

Accordingly, UNHCR Indonesia prioritizes RSD for asylum-seekers in the following circumstances: 

  1. There are particular complexities that need to be clarified through the RSD process; and/or 
  2. There are protection concerns over and beyond those faced by the general asylum-seeker and refugee population in Indonesia; and/or 
  3. There is an immediate opportunity third country solution which requires recognition by UNHCR.  

All other asylum-seekers will unfortunately have to wait a long time before being contacted for an RSD interview. Due to the high volume of applications from asylum-seekers, it is simply not possible to conduct RSD for everyone.     

Please do not contact us requesting RSD.  Due to the high volume of queries received, we will not respond to requests to undertake RSD.  UNHCR will contact you if we determine there is a need to undertake RSD for you and your family. 

How will UNHCR know about my protection concerns or identify if there is an opportunity for resettlement for me if I don’t get an RSD interview?

All staff members of UNHCR and its partners are trained – and are constantly receiving training – on how to spot urgent protection needs during our numerous interactions with you, like calls, counselling sessions, and other interviews. 

In short, being an asylum-seeker does not prevent you from being identified and considered for  resettlement opportunities.

I have a private sponsorship application but I am still an asylum-seeker and need to have an RSD interview. What should I do?

Private sponsorship programmes offer a safe way for refugees and asylum-seekers to enter and stay in another country, outside of resettlement. It is a growing area which UNHCR has been advocating for and is happy to support. Each sponsorship programme has different requirements, and not all require UNHCR recognition as a refugee. Please check the specific requirements of the programme that you are applying to. For more information on private sponsorship, please click here Community or Private Sponsorship

If the programme requires refugee recognition and you are still an asylum-seeker, kindly reach out to UNHCR via email [email protected]. Please share as many details as you can about your sponsors and sponsorship application and provide any available supporting documents.  

Once your email is received, UNHCR will first have to verify the genuineness of your private sponsorship application. If confirmed, you will be scheduled for an RSD appointment. UNHCR receives many emails about private sponsorship applications, but a large number do not provide sufficient details or supporting documents. This will cause a delay in processing because UNHCR will have to reach out to you again for further information and documents.  

Whilst UNHCR will do its best to prioritize your case, kindly note that UNHCR cannot give you an immediate RSD appointment due to the large number of applications being processed. 

If you are recognized as a refugee, UNHCR will issue you a Status Confirmation Letter which you can use to support your sponsorship application.   

How will I know if I have been scheduled for an RSD interview?

When you are scheduled for an RSD interview, a UNHCR staff member will contact you by phone or email to inform you of the date and time of the interview and whether your interview will be conducted remotely or at the UNHCR Reception Centre. The staff member will also counsel you on the documents you need to prepare and family members that need to be present during the interview, if any. Please keep UNHCR informed of any changes in your phone number or email address via UNHCR Indonesia’s Kobo Online Inquiry Form. 

What is a remote RSD interview?

Remote RSD interviews are done by phone or using video-calling applications like Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp. UNHCR Indonesia uses remote RSD interviews when it is suitable for the case (depending on the specific circumstances of a case and the availability of the necessary technological resources) and always with your consent and agreement. Interviewees will need to be in a private and confidential space for the duration of the interview. If there are family members in the same case, they might also be interviewed. You will get more details when we schedule the remote RSD interview.

What will happen during an RSD interview?

During your RSD interview, your interviewer will speak to you about a range of topics, including your identity, background, family situation, education background, work history, relevant past experiences, the reasons why you left your country, and your present situation in Indonesia. Your interviewer will also ask you what you believe might happen if you return to your home country. Your RSD interview will take several hours (or even days), but you can ask for breaks.

What are my rights during an RSD interview?

You have a right to be interviewed in a language that you are comfortable with.  

You can ask for an interviewer or interpreter of a different gender if you would feel more comfortable and if staff resources allow. 

Your information will be kept confidential. It will not be shared with any third party (including even your own family members) without your permission and explicit consent.  

You can ask the interviewer to explain any aspect of the process. 

You can request for breaks during the interview. If you are not feeling well and cannot continue with the interview, or if you have a medical condition that you think UNHCR should be aware of, please tell your interviewer. 

Finally, you can engage the services of qualified legal representatives at your own cost or on a pro bono basis, if available. Your legal representative must have the necessary training and/or experience to perform this role. Please note that UNHCR Indonesia is not able to provide a legal representative for you.

What are my duties and obligations during the RSD process?

You have an obligation to be truthful and to provide the most complete information possible about the facts relevant to your refugee claim. This includes an obligation to not omit information that may be relevant to your file. If you do not know the answer to a question or cannot remember a detail, or if you require clarification, please inform your interviewer.  

Please do not pay attention to rumors or advice that you may have been given by any party (family, friends, community members, smugglers, etc.) about specific stories to tell to be granted refugee status. Providing untruthful information to UNHCR will cast doubt on your claim and may constitute fraud. Please note that there will be a negative impact on the processing of your case and may lead to long delays or even a negative decision. There may also be a negative impact on any future resettlement processing.  

You also have a duty to fully cooperate with UNHCR by making all efforts to substantiate your refugee claim and providing all available supporting evidence. A lack of cooperation on your part will be viewed negatively and may lead to a negative decision.  

I have provided incorrect or untruthful information to UNHCR in the past. What should I do now?

Please inform your interviewer immediately if you have provided incorrect or untruthful information in the past. Being honest about your claim and admitting that you have provided incorrect or untruthful information, even if only at a later stage, is viewed positively. UNHCR can make corrections or additions to the information to your case if there is a reasonable explanation.  

If you only realise after your RSD interview is completed, please contact UNHCR via e-mail at [email protected]. 

I have had my RSD interview. How long do I need to wait for the decision?

That depends on the details of your case. Each case is considered individually. UNHCR Indonesia tries its best to finalize RSD decisions within 6 to 12 months of the RSD interview, but this is not always possible due to the high volume of applications from asylum-seekers. Your RSD decision may also be delayed for valid reasons – for example if your personal situation changes in Indonesia and you no longer have urgent protection concerns. RSD decisions may also be delayed if there is a need to schedule you for another interview to obtain additional information necessary to reach a decision on your case. We appreciate your understanding and patience. Please keep UNHCR informed of any changes in your phone number or email address via UNHCR Indonesia’s Kobo Online Inquiry Form. 

How will I receive my RSD decision?

Once a decision has been made, you will be informed of the decision by phone call, WhatsApp, email, or even in person at the UNHCR Reception Centre. If your decision is negative, you will also receive a letter notifying you of the negative decision in writing. 

What happens if I am rejected and denied refugee status? How can I appeal if I disagree with the rejection?

If you disagree with the decision to deny you refugee status, you can appeal within 30 days of being notified of the decision and receiving your decision letter. 

The decision letter will explain why your asylum application was denied. You will also receive an empty Appeal Application Form with the decision letter. If you disagree with the negative decision want to appeal, please fill out the Appeal Application Form in any language and submit it to UNHCR via email at [email protected] or in person at the UNHCR Reception Centre. 

Kindly note that your case with UNHCR will be closed if an appeal is not submitted within 30 days, and you will no longer be eligible for assistance by UNHCR or any UNHCR documentation. You only have one chance to appeal.  

What will happen during the appeal process?

Your appeal will be reviewed by a different UNHCR officer who was not involved in the initial decision not to grant you refugee status. 

Not everyone who appeals will get an appeal interview. If an appeal interview is needed, UNHCR will let you know and set a date for your appeal interview. 

If the initial negative decision is overturned, you will be granted refugee status and become a refugee. 

If the initial negative decision is confirmed, you will be notified of the decision and your case will be closed. You will no longer be eligible for assistance by UNHCR or any UNHCR documentation. 

I was informed that UNHCR closed my case. Why did this happen?

There are several possible reasons why your case was closed: 

  • You did not submit an appeal application within 30 days of being notified of a negative first instance decision. 
  • Your RSD case was rejected at the Appeal stage. 
  • You left Indonesia, either to return to your country of origin or to go to another country. 
  • You were uncontactable over an extended period during which UNHCR tried many times to contact you for appointments. 

How do I request for my case to be re-opened after it was closed?

If your case was closed because you were uncontactable and missed an RSD appointment, or because you left Indonesia: 

If you have valid reasons for not being able to follow UNHCR’s procedures (serious health issues or other serious circumstances out of your control for example), or if you left Indonesia and came back and want to re-open your case, kindly reach out to UNHCR via [email protected]  UNHCR will review your request, and if justified, we may re-open your case and continue your process.  

If your case was closed because you did not submit an appeal application in time or if you were rejected at the appeal stage: 

In such situations, UNHCR considers that it has made a final decision in your case. This decision is not subject to appeal, and you are no longer considered a person of concern to UNHCR.  

You will need to take your own steps to either regularize your status in Indonesia, so you are not in the country illegally, or explore other options if this is not possible. If you want to consider returning home to your country, please click here for more information Returning to your home country

In very exceptional cases, you can request for your case to be re-opened after a final decision. However, due to the high volume of applications, it will take a long time before UNHCR Indonesia can review your re-opening application. There is also no guarantee that your case will be re-opened as UNHCR has already considered your case in detail.        A case may only be re-opened after a final decision if: 

  • There has been a significant change in the conditions in your home country that may affect your eligibility for refugee status. 
  • There has been a significant change in your personal circumstances that may affect your eligibility for refugee status. 
  • There is relevant and reliable new information indicating that your case was improperly decided. If this information was available at the time of the previous RSD procedure, there must be a reasonable explanation for why you did not provide this to UNHCR earlier.  
  • There is serious reason to believe that your claim was improperly decided and/or that grounds for eligibility for refugee status were not adequately examined or addressed. 

To submit a re-opening application after a final decision, please submit a detailed statement and supporting documents to UNHCR via [email protected]