PRESS STATEMENT | DHA announces online renewal process for asylum seeker and refugee documentation

Date: 18/05/2021

Lawyers for Human Rights welcomes recent information released by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), announcing an online renewal process for asylum seeker and refugee documentation. LHR has repeatedly engaged with DHA over the last year, to seek clarity on its plans to re-open Refugee Reception Offices and renew permits of all refugees and asylum seekers, after these services were halted at the onset of the pandemic to help control the spread of the virus. We are aware of the material, negative impact of these decisions, which left an already vulnerable population at further risk, despite the DHA’s issuance of various blanket extensions for permits.

LHR therefore supports the measures being taken in an effort to ensure refugees and asylum seekers have valid updated permits. This is particularly so given the ongoing risk of COVID-19 infection while we wait for a comprehensive, inclusive roll out of a safe effective vaccine.

Where refugees and asylum seekers have access to email facilities to make submissions for online extensions, LHR therefore encourages them to do so.

However, LHR also notes with concern that access to internet and email facilities is limited for some in the migrant community, such as those living in informal settlements and in impoverished conditions, which have been severely affected by the pandemic and have lost their means of survival.  We therefore urge the DHA to:

  • continue to expand access to the whole of the refugee and asylum seeker community to ensure their ability to regularlise their stays; and
  • issue clear, unequivocal statements that the online registration process is free and that anyone attempting to solicit bribes must be reported to its anti-corruption mechanisms.

LHR is committed in the interim assisting those who run the risk of not having their online claims processed, within our limited resources and by appointment ensure that we can comply with health guidelines that are in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.

LHR remains committed to sharing accurate information with the migrant community in South Africa and will remain vigilant in guarding against discrimination or other unfair treatment.

For more information please contact Sharon Ekambaram on 083 634 8924.

For legal assistance, please contact your nearest LHR law clinic:

LHR Office in Durban: 078 315 1269

LHR Office in Musina: 076 766 7782

LHR Office in Johannesburg: 066 076 8845

LHR Office in Pretoria: 064 64 74719


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