Re-opening a Case

  • When is a file closed with UNHCR?

If your appeal is unsuccessful, then the decision is considered final and you cannot appeal again. Your file is considered closed at that time.

Your file may also be closed if you abandon your claim by returning to your country of origin or by failing to renew your Asylum Seeker Certificate.

  • What does it mean if your file is closed?

When your file is closed, UNHCR  will not renew your Asylum Seeker Certificate. You are no longer able to access any services from UNHCR. Most organizations that provide assistance to refugees in Bangkok also will not provide assistance to individual’s without an Asylum Seeker Certificate.

  • What are my options if my file is closed?

You have four main options:

  1. Return to your country of origin. This is called voluntary repatriation, and there may be some organizations in Bangkok that can assist you with this process.
  2. Stay in Thailand but no longer seek assistance or protection as a refugee. For example, some people chose to stay and try to find work and try to avoid problems with immigration officers or the police.
  3. Stay in Thailand and ask UNHCR to re-open your case.
  4. Try to go to another country. Please remember that it is a crime to cross borders or enter another country without a valid visa and that there are criminal consequences. You should only consider this option if you have a lawful way to go to another country.
  • What is the re-opening process? 

If you would like to request that UNHCR reopen your case, you should write a letter to UNHCR. The letter, like an appeal, can be in any language and any length. For it to be successful, however, it should clearly state why your case should be reopened. You can get a Reopening Self-help Kit from Asylum Access Thailand to help you write your reopening request.

In very limited cases, Asylum Access Thailand may assist with your re-opening request. You should contact Asylum Access Thailand if you would like them to assist with your reopening request. They will then review your case and decide whether they can help. It is a good idea to contact Asylum Access Thailand if you are:

  1. Vietnamese Hmong or Montagnard, especially if your first instance decision was made by UNHCR in Cambodia;
  2. If you have returned to your country of origin since the final decision, suffered persecution again and then returned to Thailand afterwards;
  3. You have new evidence related to your claim; or
  4. The situation in your country of origin has changed significantly since you received your final decision and there are new reasons that it would be unsafe for you to return.

After you submit your re-opening request, UNHCR reads it and decides whether to re-open the case. Re-opening the case means that UNHCR will issue a new Asylum Seeker Certificate and will reconsider if you are a refugee based on the information in your request. UNHCR may take over a year or more to decide whether it will re-open your case. You will not have an Asylum Seeker Certificate during this time.

UNHCR can decide whether or not to re-open your case without interviewing you.

If UNHCR decides to re-open your case, it may take many months or over a year for them to reconsider your case and decide whether to recognize you as a refugee or to reject your application. UNHCR may make that decision after an interview or may make that decision without an interview.

You cannot appeal a re-opening request.

  • When will UNHCR agree to re-open a case?

Reopening requests are only granted in exceptional circumstances

UNHCR will only re-open your RSD file if one of the following circumstances applies:

  1. There is reliable new information of a significant change in your personal circumstances or the conditions in your home country that may substantially affect your eligibility for refugee status.
    Examples of this might be:
    o a new event has happened in your home country that shows you are at greater risk of persecution there
    o something has happened to you in Thailand that puts you at greater risk of persecution in your home country
  2. You have reliable, relevant and important new information which helps to establish that you meet the Convention refugee definition.  You need to explain to UNHCR why this information was not given to UNHCR earlier (eg because you only just found out about it, or you could not get the documents earlier).
  3. There is serious reason to believe that UNHCR did not properly decide your RSD claim, and/or that UNHCR that UNHCR did not adequately consider the grounds on which you might be a refugee. This means that UNHCR made a mistake when it rejected you, either because it did not understand properly what happened to you, or because it made a mistake when applying the Convention refugee definition to your case.