What Happens if UNHCR Recognizes You as a Refugee?

If you are recognized as a refugee by UNHCR, you will receive a Refugee Certificate that looks similar to your Asylum Seeker Certificate. 

In some cases, an official refugee certificate entitles refugees to different services than asylum seekers but, generally speaking, asylum seekers and refugees have equal access to services by refugee rights organisations in Bangkok. You should speak with specific organisations to determine if there are different services available to recognized refugees.

Under international law, refugees have a right to a “durable solution”, which is understood differently depending on the situation in the host country. In Thailand, recognized urban refugees are not given access to specific government services, which means recognition does not give urban refugees access to visas, citizenship or other similar rights regarding staying in Thailand. Therefore, local integration is not seen as fully possible.

In certain cases, recognized refugees in Bangkok may apply to be resettled in another country with assistance from UNHCR. Resettlement is not always possible and is a complex process. For more information regarding resettlement, recognized refugees should speak with UNHCR.

For more information on resettlement in general, Refugee Rights Initiative’s Rights in Exile website includes a substantial section explaining resettlement procedures and opportunities for a number of countries. Click here to read more.

Passport and visa issues:

Refugees who have overstayed their visa or do not have valid travel documents may be required to pay either a fine or spend some time in the Immigration Detention Center before being able to board a plane to their new resettlement country or to travel to any other country. This is based on Thai immigration law and is generally not avoidable.

Do not be too worried if you have lost your travel documents or they have expired and you have been accepted for resettlement by another country. The UNHCR, the resettlement country and other partner organisations can assist you to get the appropriate temporary or emergency travel documents necessary to leave the country and to enter your new host country. You CAN be resettled even if you do not have a valid passport.

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