How do I apply for asylum?

If you are already in Trinidad and Tobago, to seek asylum you must first present yourself to LWC, UNHCR’s implementing partner in Trinidad and Tobago, or to the Refugee Unit of the Immigration Division of Trinidad and Tobago.

If you are at the border or any port of entry (e.g. an airport or seaport) in Trinidad and Tobago, you can claim asylum before an immigration official, by expressing your fear to return to your country of origin. The claim can be made verbally or in writing.

Applying for asylum is free. You should not be requested to submit any form of payment to receive and process your application. If you are asked to submit any form of payment during this process, please report the situation to UNHCR, LWC or the Immigration Division as soon as possible.

While awaiting the determination of your claim, you must stay in Trinidad and Tobago or inform the Refugee Unit and UNHCR of your intent to depart the country. If you leave at any time without prior communication to the Refugee Unit and UNHCR, it may be considered abandonment of your asylum claim.

You have the right to contact UNHCR in Trinidad and Tobago at any point during the process.

Who Can Apply?

Any foreign national or stateless person at a border point or within the territory of Trinidad and Tobago may apply for asylum, regardless of age, sex, gender, nationality, race, religion or political opinion if he or she fears to return to his or her country of origin because a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

Children have also the right to seek asylum even when a representative or guardian is not present to do it on their behalf.

Confidentiality

The procedure to seek asylum is completely confidential, which means that the information you share either with UNHCR, LWC, or immigration authorities will not be shared with external persons or with authorities of your country of origin.

Refugee status determination procedures are individualised and free of charge. While there is no need for the intervention of an intermediary, you do have the right to be represented by legal counsel at your own expense. Your legal counsel must be available on the fixed dates of the interviews.

Registration

UNHCR is authorized by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to register asylum-seekers and conduct refugee status determination procedures in the country.

Asylum applications at the Refugee Unit, border points, air and seaports and the Immigration Detention Center are subject to follow immigration procedures until the application is referred to LWC and UNHCR.

If you present yourself to LWC, you will be pre-registered. You will be counselled on rights and obligations of asylum-seekers in Trinidad and Tobago and you will be scheduled for a registration appointment at UNHCR’s Registration Centre. You will receive an appointment slip and a UNHCR Refugee Status Determination (RSD) Form that you will have to complete thoroughly before your appointment with UNHCR. All adults must submit a UNHCR RSD Application Form and children must be included in the form of their parents.

  • The day of your registration appointment with UNHCR, you must present:
  • Your appointment slip
  • Your completed UNHCR RSD Application Form
  • All identity documents in your possession, such as your national passport, national identity card, and birth or marriage certificate, of yourself and of any family members who are applying for asylum in Trinidad and Tobago
  • Any additional documentation you consider important to assess your asylum claim.

During your registration interview with UNHCR, you will be asked to provide your basic biodata information and other information such as your education background and your work experience. You will be enrolled in our BIMS system and your identity will be recorded through your fingerprints and your iris. Upon registration you will be issued a UNHCR identification document that confirms your status as an asylum-seeker.

You have the obligation to cooperate during the registration interview. You will be asked consent to share your information with national authorities and UNHCR partners.

You will have the opportunity to disclose issues that you have experienced at LWC at the time of pre-registration or at UNHCR at the time of registration including instances of arrest, physical or emotional abuse, other serious violent acts, and any medical issues. Your concerns will be addressed and/or followed-up by LWC or UNHCR.

While the examination of your application is pending you have the right to withdraw the application. You must submit your decision to withdraw your claim in writing. Following the withdrawal of your application, you will cease to be considered an asylum-seeker and your asylum case will be closed. UNHCR will inform the Refugee Unit and you will be subject to national Immigration laws.

While awaiting the determination of your claim, you must stay in Trinidad and Tobago or inform the Refugee Unit and UNHCR of your intent to leave the country. If you leave at any time without prior communication to the Refugee Unit and UNHCR, your departure may be considered as an abandonment of your asylum claim and your asylum case may be closed.

Applying for Dependents

If you have dependent family members with you in Trinidad and Tobago, they may apply for asylum on derivative status. Dependent family members may include:

  • Your spouse,
  • Your unmarried child who is under 18 years,
  • Your parents or guardians if you are under 18 years, as well as their dependents and,
  • Your minor siblings under 18 years,
  • Your family members who are above the age of 18 but who depend on you due to specific reasons.

All adult members of your family over the age of 18 should complete application forms, if they are able to do so.

All of your family members must be listed on your application, regardless of whether you are applying on their behalf. Your family members may include spouses, common-law partners, dependent children and any children that are their dependent children, minor siblings, and family members over the age of 18 who depend on your for specific reasons.

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