Refugee rights


Non-refoulement

Refugees are protected from forcible return to a country in which their life or freedom may be in danger on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.


Non-penalization

The authorities may not detain or penalize you for entering the country without an entry visa if you claim asylum verbally or in writing to an immigration official upon arriving from a country where your life or freedom may be in danger. The authorities also may not penalize you for overstaying in the country.

However, you must respect the national laws of Trinidad and Tobago. Breaking the law may result in the suspension of your rights as an asylum-seeker or refugee.


Protection and asylum

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, any person whose life is in danger in their own country has the right to seek protection and asylum in another country.

As a refugee in Trinidad and Tobago, you have the right to receive information about your asylum application, your rights and your duties in a language you understand.

You have the right to contact UNHCR in Trinidad and Tobago at any point during the process, from the moment of expressing your fear of return to your country of origin.


Non-discrimination

You have the right to live in an environment free from discrimination, regardless of ethnicity, color, sex, language, religion, political opinion, nationality, economic position, birthplace or any other personal attribute.

The Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago guarantees rights without discrimination on the basis of race, origin, color, religion or sex.


Access to Banking Services

Refugees do not currently have the same rights to public and private banking services as nationals and residents of Trinidad and Tobago. Refugees may open a bank account, transfer funds and access other basic banking services, in line with the policies of each banking institution.

You may have access to money transfer services, such as Western Union or Money Gram. If you do encounter a problem, you can request advice and assistance from LWC.


Family reunification

Refugee status recognizes the nuclear family and other dependent relatives up to the second degree of blood or family relationship. If you are a refugee that has been recognized by UNHCR, you can bring your immediate family members to Trinidad and Tobago, including:

  • Your spouse.
  • Your children under 18 years of age.
  • Your parents if you are an unaccompanied or separated child.

Requests for reunification must be made to LWC who will guide you through the procedure.

Upon arrival to Trinidad and Tobago, your relative will receive a Refugee Certificate from the UNHCR and a government-issued document permitting them to remain in Trinidad and Tobago.


What happens if you want your relatives to visit you in Trinidad and Tobago, but only temporarily?

If you are a refugee that has been recognized by UNHCR, and you wish for your family members to visit temporarily, you should find out if the visitors need a tourist visa to enter Trinidad and Tobago. Your family members must follow the correct procedure as stated by the Trinidad and Tobago consulate. You can find more information about tourist visa applications here.


Health

All persons in Trinidad and Tobago have access to state-provided primary healthcare. Some medicines are available free of cost with a prescription from a doctor in the health centre or hospital. Certain medicines, like insulin, may not be covered.

For secondary or specialized healthcare services you may have to see a private doctor, which can be costly. These include non-emergency surgical procedures and specialized treatments like dialysis and chemotherapy.

You may also have access to basic assistance in shelter, food and medical care from LWC. These services are supplied on a case-by-case basis. Click here for more information on accessing healthcare in Trinidad and Tobago.


Employment

At this time, the laws of Trinidad and Tobago do not allow refugees to be employed. UNHCR and LWC continue to provide basic assistance in shelter, food and medical care to asylum-seekers and refugees on a case-by-case basis.


Education

Equal Place is a temporary intervention helping asylum-seekers, refugees and other eligible children in need to access accredited education. Starting September 2019, this learning will mainly take place online, with opportunities for in-person support. This intervention is a joint effort offered by UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF, Living Water Community, and TTVSOLNET (TTV Solidarity Network).

Equal Place delivers tailor-made learning on two globally recognized platforms: NotesMaster, offered in English, and Dawere, offered in Spanish. These platforms will be provided at no cost to students or their families.

You can enroll your child here.


Freedom of Movement

You have the right to move freely throughout national territory and choose where you want to live, but you must update LWC and the Immigration Division of changes to your address.

A refugee may travel to any country, but cannot travel to their country of origin. Prior permission to leave and reenter Trinidad and Tobago is needed from the Refugee Unit.

Remember, you must inform LWC, the Refugee Unit and UNHCR of any arrangements to travel abroad as well as changes to your address or telephone number.

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