Apply For Asylum
In any country that you seek asylum, it is the primary responsibility of the government to provide oversight of this process.
In Trinidad and Tobago, in the absence of refugee legislation, it is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), that adjudicates claims for asylum and maintains oversight for refugees and asylum seekers under its mandate in collaboration with the Living Water Community. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is authorized by the government to register and determine asylum applications in Trinidad and Tobago.
To register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as an asylum-seeker, you must present yourself to the Living Water Community (LWC), its implementing partner in Trinidad and Tobago, in order to pre-register. However, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, pre-registration will be done remotely until further notice. You can contact the following numbers via WhatsApp video call to seek asylum:
- Mondays and Tuesdays: (868) 281-8737 or (868) 329-0734
- Wednesdays and Thursdays: (868) 279-4422 or (868) 296-4271
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.
You will receive a registration kit and appointment to complete your registration at UNHCR’s office. Once registered, you will receive an Asylum Identification Card. Subsequently, we will be contacted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to schedule your refugee status determination (RSD) interview whereby the commissioner will determine whether to grant your refugee status or reject your application.
*Please note that you must be present in Trinidad and Tobago in order to seek asylum in this country.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take to apply for asylum?
The staff at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is working diligently to adhere to global best practices and reduce the waiting period between registration and the final refugee status determination (RSD) decision. Each case is individually assessed and therefore the duration of the process can vary.
Is this service free?
All of our services are free of charge.
What are my rights as an asylum-seeker?
You have a right to non-refoulement whereby you cannot be returned or deported to a country in which your life or freedom may be in danger due to your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
You have a right to access justice and report any crime to the authorities.
You have a right to freedom of movement within the territory that you reside.
What happens if my refugee status is rejected?
If the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) rejects your application for asylum, you have the right to appeal (to ask the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to reconsider your case). The deadline to appeal will be stated in the written decision given to you.
If your appeal is rejected again or you choose not to appeal, regular Trinidad and Tobago immigration procedures will apply and you may be returned to your home country.
Can I leave the country while in the process to determine my refugee status?
During the asylum procedure you must stay in Trinidad and Tobago. If you leave at any time, it may be considered abandonment of your asylum claim.
Please note that recognition of your refugee status is valid in Trinidad & Tobago, which means that it may not necessarily be recognised in another country should you choose to voluntarily depart.
If you choose to leave Trinidad, it is your responsibility to research the other country’s asylum policies and procedures. Please notify Living Water Community and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of your intention to abandon your claim if you choose to leave Trinidad and Tobago.
What happens if I become a refugee?
As a refugee, you will have a right to remain legally in Trinidad and Tobago as well as family reunification with your immediate family. Due to a lack of legislation, you will not be able to work legally.