UNHCR defines an asylum seeker as a person whose request for temporary residence is yet to be processed. Such an individual is taking refuge in the country where he or she is seeking asylum for vicarious reasons. Some may have fled political crisis, religious intolerance, abuse, or any other circumstance that posed a threat to their safety and wellbeing.
There were about 4.2 million asylum seekers globally by the end of 2019. Out of this number, South Africa hosts more than 153,000 asylum seekers in 2022. The Ministry of Home Affairs in South Africa recently made a big announcement in favour of asylum seekers. It will shake up the asylum system and grant asylum seekers the liberty to extend their permits online.
The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa is in partnership with UNHCR through an agreement to start a project to get rid of the accumulation of uncompleted work regarding decisions related to asylum seekers. This partnership aims to bring effective change to the refugee management system in South Africa by the year 2024.
The Department of Home Affairs started the online extension program on the 21st of April 2022. Refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa who qualify are supposed to renew their visas and status online by the 30th of June 2022.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about this new development and how to go about it.
What this means for asylum seekers
- It will speed up the time it takes to process the documents of asylum seekers within South Africa. Asylum seekers have complained over the last decade about the length of time it takes to extend their permit. This project will eradicate backlog and promote swiftness.
- The policy will prevent the spread of COVID-19 since it permits asylum seekers to apply for an extension from wherever they are as long as they can send an email. It is also a ray of light to people with disabilities because it will see their visa extension application process.
- Asylum seekers who will officially gain recognition as refugees will have access to their full privileges and rights. It will increase freedom, give them a sense of belonging, and improve their self-esteem.
- Asylum seekers will also be allowed to contribute to the growth and development of South Africa through their work in various sectors. The Asylum Decisions Backlog Elimination Project will enable asylum seekers to improve on their craft and bring sustainable development to their communities. While some may work as employees, others may employ members of the community and reduce the unemployment rate. Consequently, it will reduce the rate of crime in South Africa. An increase in the number of employed persons equals a reduction in the crime rate in communities.
- Asylum seekers will get access to national services on the same level as South African nationals. They will be equally important within the country, and the government will seriously consider their worries and ideas at all times.
- The Asylum Decisions Backlog Elimination Project will promote democracy, make the refugee system more efficient, and reduce human rights violations. Furthermore, implementing this project will enable South Africans and asylum seekers alike to trust the government.
- The project will bridge the gap between asylum seekers and members of South African communities. It will reduce inequality in the distribution of resources, promote oneness, improve social relationships, and enable people to work towards the common good of South Africa.
Requirements for an online extension
- A valid email address. The Department of Home Affairs permits more than one person to use the same email address to apply.
- Provide a signed templated with your full name and surname, mobile phone numbers, permit number, and physical address.
- Submit a valid copy of your current visa. If you lose it, submit an affidavit that shows it is missing and the permit reference number of the missing visa.
- Submit an affidavit confirming your physical address or a utility bill that shows proof of your physical address.
All asylum seekers have to submit individual applications even if the entire family is applying. You are required to sign the extension request for minors if you are the principal applicant. Their extension request must carry the same signature as their lost or expired permits.
Where to request an asylum seeker visa extension
Asylum seekers can send emails to the email addresses of the various refugee offices to request an asylum visa extension permit. Please note that you have to request an extension from the refugee office where you did your last extension.
Cape Town Refugee Reception Office
- Refugee visa extensions: CTrrc.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Asylum seeker visa extension: CTrrc.Extension22@dha.gov.za
Durban Refugee Reception Office:
- Refugee visa extensions: DurbanRRC.Extension24@dha.gov.za
- Asylum seeker visa extension: DurbanRRC.Extension22@dha.gov.za
Musina Refugee Reception Office:
- Refugee visa extensions: MusinaRRC.Extension24@dha.gov.za
- Asylum seeker visa extension: Musinarrc.Extension22@dha.gov.za
Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Office:
- Refugee visa extensions: DTRRC.Extension24@dha.gov.za
- Asylum seeker visa extension: DTRRC.Extension22@dha.gov.za
Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) Refugee Reception Office
- Refugee visa extensions: PERRC.Extension24@dha.gov.za
- Asylum seeker visa extension: PERRC.Extension22@dha.gov.za
There are cases where the DHA cannot process asylum seekers’ extension requests online. The Department of Home Affairs requires requesters not to be alarmed. The requester will receive a letter that indicates they have to show up in person at the Refugee reception office. The letter will have the exact date and time of their appointment. It will also include the name of the specific refugee reception office.
How to verify the validity of an online visa
Organizations and individuals alike can verify the validity of online visas by sending an email to any of the following email addresses. These email addresses belong to specific refugee reception offices.
Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) Perro
Cape Town RRO