My asylum permit expired and now I’m facing a fine even though all the refugee offices are closed.
The short answer
You can approach one of the organisations that work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
The whole question
My asylum seeker permit has a note saying that I must pay a fine because I was one week late in renewing it. Where can I go to resolve this? All the refugee reception offices are closed!
The long answer
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) set up an online system in April 2021 to renew refugee and asylum seekers’ permits, and gave a deadline of 31 December 2021 for renewing permits online. A lot of people missed that deadline, saying that the DHA online system was always breaking down, while some said that they never got any response after renewing their permits online.
But that deadline was not extended to people who entered the country after March 2021, as I think must be the case with you.
There is also a massive backlog of applications for asylum seekers’ permits and refugee permits at DHA from before 2020, which is why the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched a big joint project in March 2021 with DHA and the Refugee Appeals Authority to clear the backlog. But because there has been no processing of new asylum seekers and refugees’ permits since 2020, the backlog is unlikely to have been cleared.
So perhaps the best thing for you to do is to approach one of the three legal organisations that work with the UNHCR and offer free services to asylum seekers and refugees, including assisting with permit renewals.
- Lawyers for Human Rights (with Migrant and Refugee Rights programmes in Johannesburg, Musina, Durban and Pretoria). They are operating through email and phone calls since Covid, and can be reached here:
- University of Cape Town Refugee Rights Unit
- Nelson Mandela University Refugee Rights Centre