What Happens if UNHCR Does Not Recognize You as a Refugee?

If UNHCR rejects your claim for asylum, you will be given a Notification of Reasons of Rejection (often called the rejection letter). This letter explains why UNHCR has rejected your claim.

You usually have 30 days to appeal. Currently, UNHCR Thailand is giving asylum seekers 90 days to appeal.

You MUST submit an appeal to UNHCR within the deadline. If you do not submit an appeal, your file is closed and you cannot appeal the decision later. It is occasionally possible to re-open your file but only in certain circumstances. It is difficult to re-open a file.

Please click here for more information on re-openings.

  • What is an appeal?

An appeal is a letter from you explaining why you think UNHCR’s decision is wrong. The letter can be in any language and can be handwritten or typed. The letter should respond specifically to the things UNHCR says in the rejection letter. There are no specific rules on how long or how short the appeal can or must be.

  • How do I appeal the decision?

When you receive your rejection letter, there are two pages attached with blank lines. You can write your appeal on those pages but you do not have to. You are also allowed to write on other blank paper or to type your appeal. You then submit your appeal to UNHCR in person.

  • My asylum seeker certificate is about to expire after I received the rejection letter; what do I do?

When you submit your appeal, UNHCR will renew your asylum seeker certificate. If you do not submit an appeal within 90 days of receiving the rejection letter, you will not be able to renew your asylum seeker certificate (except for in very specific circumstances – please refer to Re-openings for more information).

  • I have submitted an appeal; now what?

After you submit your appeal and renew your asylum seeker certificate, UNHCR will read your appeal and make another decision. This can be a long process ­­ sometimes it takes more than a year for UNHCR to make a decision. You should continue to renew your asylum seeker certificate as normal; otherwise UNHCR may think you have decided to abandoned your appeal.

You are still an asylum seeker and are still eligible for the same services regularly available to asylum seekers. UNHCR can chose to change its decision and recognize you as a refugee or to reaffirm its original decision and reject your claim again. If you are recognized as a refugee, then you are treated the same as all other recognized refugees. There is no penalty for being rejected first. If you are rejected again, your file is closed. Click here for more information on closed files.

  • If I am rejected again, can I appeal that second decision?

No; if your appeal is rejected, your file is closed. Click here for more information on closed files.

  • If I am rejected once or twice by UNHCR, do I have to go back to my country of origin?

First, if you are rejected by UNHCR, you should consider whether or not it is safe to go back to your country of origin. If the circumstances in your home country have changed and you believe you would be safe returning, you may want to consider returning home. You should discuss these options with UNHCR if you decide to return to your home country.

If you do not decide to return to your country of origin, you should be aware of the risks that you face by staying in Thailand after you have been rejected. If your file has been closed and your asylum seeker certificates have expired, you are no longer under the protection of UNHCR and are not entitled to any of the services available only to asylum seekers (by UNHCR or any other organisations in Bangkok). If you are detained, UNHCR will not assist you. Because the Thai government generally does not deport migrants to countries that do not share a border with Thailand, if you are detained, you may be held in an immigration detention center indefinitely or until you decide to return to your country of origin. You usually do not have any options for going to any other country instead.

  • Who can assist with my appeal?

Asylum Access Thailand can provide you with a printed copy of the Appeal Self-­help Kit and may interview you to decide whether they can assist you further with your appeal. Asylum Access Thailand helps with some appeals but not all appeals and whether or not they can help is decided in a case by case manner. Please contact AAT as soon as possible after you receive your rejection letter.

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