How do I apply for asylum?

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 at [email protected] as soon as possible.

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.

If you are already in Trinidad and Tobago, to seek asylum you must first present yourself to Living Water Community (LWC), a UNHCR implementing partner in Trinidad and Tobago.

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 or LWC, will not be shared with external persons or with authorities of your country of origin without your consent.

Registration

Asylum applications at 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.

Pre-registration with Living Water Community (LWC)

To apply for asylum, you must contact Living Water Community as soon as possible and express your desire to seek asulym. During your pre-registration interview with Living Water Community, you will be counselled on rights and obligations of asylum-seekers in Trinidad and Tobago and on registration procedures, and your eligibility for registration with UNHCR will be assessed.

You will be asked questions related to the identity and vulnerabilities of you and your dependent family members. Only people and their dependent family members in the most vulnerable situation will be immediately referred by LWC to UNHCR for a registration interview. You will be given an appointment slip for your interview with UNHCR. For others, you will be given a UNHCR certificate by LWC which confirms your status and that of your dependent family members as asylum-seekers pre-registered with UNHCR.

Your UNHCR certificate will be valid for 2 years. You will still be able to access services provided by UNHCR and our partners and entitled to your rights as an asylum-seeker. Everyone who has a UNHCR certificate will eventually receive a UNHCR card.

Registration with UNHCR

UNHCR’s registration interview may take place in person at the UNHCR office or through a WhatsApp videocall. For your interview with UNHCR, you should present any identity documents or other documents belonging to you and your family which you believe may be useful to help with your asylum claim. During the interview, you will be enrolled in our biometric system (BIMS) and UNHCR will provide you and those included in your asylum application with a UNHCR card. The UNHCR card will identify you as an asylum-seeker registered with UNHCR.

The UNHCR card and the UNHCR certificate are equal in value to UNHCR and its partners.

Closing your asylum application

You have the right to withdraw your asylum claim at any point while your application is pending. You must submit your decision to withdraw your claim in writing to [email protected] and you will be scheduled for an appointment to close your case; walk-in appointments are also accepted at UNHCR on Thursdays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. 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 Immigration Division 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 UNHCR of your intent to leave the country. If you leave at any time without prior communication to 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.