Director-General of Home Affairs

The Refugees Amendment Act, 2008, which came into force on 01 January 2020, has vested the Director-General of Home Affairs with very broad powers regarding asylum seekers and refugees.

Withdrawal of Refugee Status

The Director-General may withdraw a person’s refugee status if such person:

  • has been recognised as a refugee due to fraud, forgery or false or misleading information of a material or substantial nature in relation to the application or due to an error, omission or oversight committed by the Refugee Status Determination Officer in good faith
  • has re-availed himself or herself of the protection of the country of his or her origin, nationality by, for instance, voluntarily (1) seeking consular services at any diplomatic mission representing his or her country of origin or nationality, (2) applying for any assistance or official document, such as a travel document or citizenship related document, at any diplomatic mission representing his or her country of origin or nationality whether in South Africa or any other country, (3) availing himself or herself of any assistance of any State official or State institution associated with or in his or her country of origin or nationality, (4) presenting himself or herself on the premises of any diplomatic mission representing his or her country of origin or nationality in South Africa or in any other territory, (5) traveling abroad other than with a refugee travel document, (6) applying for and receives any benefit afforded to citizens of his or her country of nationality, (7) standing for political office or votes in any election in respect of his or her country of nationality, without the approval of the Minister, (8) whether through a port of entry of or irregularly entering the territory of his or her country of origin or nationality or countries where he or she previously resided prior to entering South Africa to apply for asylum or takes measures or prepares to do so, (9) participating in any political campaign or activity related to his or her country of origin or nationality whilst in South Africa without the permission of the Minister,  or (10) traveling abroad in violation of the conditions endorsed on his or her refugee travel document
  • becomes a permanent resident or a citizen of the Republic of South Africa or acquires the nationality of some other country and enjoys the protection of that country
  • can no longer continue to refuse to avail himself or herself of the protection of the country of his or her nationality because the circumstances in connection with which he or she has been recognised as a refugee have ceased to exist and no other circumstances have arisen which justify his or her continued recognition as a refugee
  • participates in any political activity or campaign in furtherance of any political party or political interests in South Africa

A person whose refugee status has been withdrawn may lodge an appeal with the Refugee Appeals Authority within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of the decision.

Asylum Seeker Permit

Permanent residence

A refugee is entitled to permanent residence after five years of continuous residence in South Africa from the date on which he or she was granted asylum, if the Director-General, after considering all the relevant factors and within a reasonable period of time, certifies that he or she would remain a refugee indefinitely.

Review of Certain Decisions Rejecting a Claim for Asylum

The Director-General must automatically review all decisions taken by Refugee Status Determination Officers who reject an application for asylum as manifestly unfounded, abusive or fraudulent.

Before reaching a decision, the Director-General may (1) request any person who is in a position to do so to provide him or her with information relevant to the matter, (2) make such further inquiries as he or she deems appropriate, and (3) request the applicant to provide such other information as may be necessary.

The Director-General must then confirm or set aside the decision in question.

Withdrawal of an Asylum Seeker Visa

The Director-General must, before withdrawing an asylum seeker visa (1) notify the asylum seeker in question, in writing, of his or her intention to withdraw such visa, (2) provide the asylum seeker with reasons, in writing, for such withdrawal, and (3) notify the asylum seeker of his or her right to make written representations within 7 working days of receipt of the notification.

The Director-General must, after consideration of those representations, furnish the asylum seeker with a final written decision regarding the withdrawal of the asylum seeker visa.