Asylum Procedure in Rwanda

Refugee status in Rwanda is granted by the Government of Rwanda, not by UNHCR.

Who can apply for asylum in Rwanda?

If you are in need of international protection, you can apply for asylum with the Government of Rwanda. It is very important to consistently provide truthful information, including about your intention to seek asylum in Rwanda, at the first point of encounter with Government officials (including at Kigali International Airport). Failure to provide truthful information to Rwandan authorities at all times and in a timely manner may result in negative outcomes for your application.

UNHCR’s NGO partner, Prison Fellowship Rwanda (PFR), is assigned to provide legal counseling on asylum procedures. If you are unsure of how to submit your application or about the process of asylum in Rwanda or have any other questions, the NGO partner can provide you with legal information. Please come to Gikondo Community Center on Tuesday and Thursday from 9 am until 3pm. If you need an interpreter for languages other than French, Kinyarwanda or English, please contact 0788381857 to schedule an appointment, so we can arrange an interpreter of the language that you are comfortable with.

Application for asylum in Rwanda shall be lodged to the closest immigration office. If you are in Kigali, you should present yourself to the Directorate General Immigration and Emigration (DGIE) in Kacyiru by bringing 2 copies of your asylum application letter and any relevant documents that would support your claim. In case you did not indicate your need for asylum upon arrival, you should approach the DGIE office as soon as possible – preferably within 1-2 days after your arrival – to declare your intention to seek asylum, even if your visa is still valid. If you are located outside of Kigali, you can approach village leader/umudugudu for information about the address of the DGIE office.

Your asylum claim should be written down in the language of your choice and should provide detailed information on:

  • Your identity and personal circumstances, including any special needs
  • the reason you left your country,
  • why you cannot return to your country,
  • what might happen to you if you return,
  • why you came to Rwanda,
  • the reason why you left the previous country(ies) of asylum if Rwanda is not your first country of asylum, and
  • what you request from the Government of Rwanda.

DGIE may interview you after receiving this written asylum application. In most cases, DGIE will then issue a temporary residence permit (TRP) valid for 3 months. Upon issuance of TRP, your application will be transferred to the Refugee Status Determination Committee, the Government entity that will then decide on your asylum application in accordance with Law No.13/2014ter.

You will receive a decision letter from RSDC whether refugee status is granted or not in your case. In case of rejection, you have the right to appeal within 30 days to the Minister in Charge of Emergency Management. In some cases, if the Minister also rejects the appeal, you can file a petition to the High Court. UNHCR’s legal partner PFR can also provide legal counselling about the appeal process.

Sur Place refugee claims

If you came to Rwanda for other purposes (such as business, studies, etc.), but since your arrival in Rwanda there has been a change of circumstances in your home country that do not allow you to return, please approach DGIE immediately to inform them of these changes in circumstances and to express your need for international protection. You may also seek legal counselling about your situation from UNHCR’s partner PFR (see above).

Status of recognized refugees

If you are recognized as a refugee in Rwanda, you will receive your refugee ID. With this refugee ID, you will have the right to work in Rwanda. If you live outside of the camps, you will have access to Community-Based Health Insurance, like a citizen and other foreigners. UNHCR does not provide regular assistance, including financial assistance, for urban refugees and asylum-seekers. Refugees and asylum-seekers, upon receiving their Temporary Residence Permit, can request authorization to go to the camp, where health and education services are provided. The request for transfer to a camp shall be submitted to Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management.

NOTE: Resettlement is not a right. Not every refugee from Rwanda will be resettled to a third country. Rwanda offers local integration for recognized refugee in accordance with its Citizenship Law. UNHCR also supports the Government of Rwanda on Voluntary Repatriation Programme for refugees who wish to return to their home country voluntarily. There is no fee for any UNHCR service, including resettlement; thus, anyone asking you for money for a resettlement space is committing fraud and you can report them to [email protected].

Protection Services

Each Camp has UNHCR’s Protection Desk should you have any protection concerns that require UNHCR’s intervention. For urban refugees, our Protection Desk is open at Gikondo Community Centre from Monday to Thursday at 9am until 4pm.