Refugee Status Determination (RSD)

What is Refugee Status Determination (RSD)?

Refugee Status Determination (RSD) is the process by which governments or UNHCR determine whether a person seeking international protection is considered a refugee under international, regional or national law. Although States have the primary responsibility for determining refugee status, UNHCR may conduct RSD under its mandate in countries and territories that are not party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, or which have not yet established the legal and institutional framework to support an RSD process.

As Malaysia is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and does not have a national asylum system in place, UNHCR carries out RSD under its mandate in Malaysia. The RSD Unit is the department responsible for carrying out this function.

WHY and HOW is RSD conducted?

Refugee Status Determination (RSD) is an individual process which is carried out for each person seeking international protection. The primary objective of an RSD process is to explore in detail why a person seeking asylum cannot return to their country of origin or habitual residence. During the RSD interview, the person seeking asylum will be asked questions about their family, their background, education, occupation and general personal circumstances. The RSD interview will particularly focus on the reasons why the person left their country and cannot return. Based on the statements provided by the person during the interview as well as information and reports about what is happening in the person’s country of origin at the time of the interview, the RSD Unit will assess the individual case and determine whether the person qualifies for refugee status.

Who is a refugee?

A person is considered a refugee if they meet the following conditions under UNHCR’s mandate:

  • Outside their country of nationality / country of habitual residence; AND
  • Has a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; AND
  • Because of their fear of persecution, is unable or unwilling to avail themselves the protection of their country

OR

  • Is unable to return to their country because of generalised violence (such war or conflict) or other events seriously disturbing public order

Refugee status is declaratory in nature. In other words, a person does not become a refugee because of recognition, but is recognized because they already fulfil the refugee criteria.

Persons who meet these criteria are recognized as refugees. Persons whose RSD case is rejected because they are not found to meet these criteria, have a right to appeal the decision within a certain timeframe. 

Your status will only be recorded as ‘refugee’ in UNHCR’s database if you have completed the RSD process and were formally recognized as a refugee, after a detailed and thorough examination of your asylum claim. If you have not yet completed the RSD process, your status is recorded as an ‘asylum-seeker’. 

The principle of non-refoulement applies irrespective of your status, whether asylum-seeker or refugee. The principle of non-refoulement means that under international human rights law a person has a right not to be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 

Both refugees and asylum-seekers must respect the laws and regulations of the country they are in. If a refugee or an asylum-seeker commits a criminal offence (such as theft, drug offences, murder, assault, rape, arson etc.), they are subject to due process of the law, just like any other person living in the country. This means the person may be arrested, convicted for the crime committed and possibly imprisoned. Being a refugee or asylum-seeker does not mean the person is above the law.

A refugee is different from a migrant. A migrant is a person who voluntarily left their country to take up residence elsewhere. A migrant may have left their country and moved to another country/Malaysia because of work or education or other personal reasons. If a person left their country only for these reasons, they are a migrant, not a refugee.

How can I get an appointment for an RSD interview? I was registered years ago and I still have not been scheduled for an RSD interview.

Due to the high volume of applications from asylum-seekers and the limited capacity of the RSD Unit, it may take time before you are contacted and scheduled for an RSD interview. It is even more challenging for the RSD Unit to carry out RSD interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic and Movement Control Orders put in place by the Government of Malaysia. It limits everyone’s ability to travel to the UNHCR Office in Kuala Lumpur. In the interest of public health and safety for both UNHCR staff and persons of concern, it is important that everyone follows COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Currently the RSD Unit is prioritising RSD interviews for asylum-seekers who have vulnerabilities, specific needs and are at higher protection risk, including those who are detained and at risk of being forcibly returned to their country. This means that asylum-seekers who do not have any urgent or emergency protection or specific needs at the moment and who have a UNHCR document, will have to wait for a long time before they are contacted for an RSD interview. It may take between one to two years before you are contacted for your RSD interview. 

RSD interviews are not scheduled based on when you registered with UNHCR Malaysia. RSD interviews are also not scheduled based on which country you are from or which religion or ethnicity you belong to.  They are scheduled and prioritised based on protection needs including vulnerabilities and specific needs. 

When you are scheduled for an RSD appointment, a UNHCR staff identifying themselves from the RSD Unit will contact you through a call to your phone, or a text message (SMS) to your phone or an email will be sent to your email address if you have one. The date and time of the interview or call will be shared with you. 

Please make sure your contact details are always updated on our website so we can contact you

If you  received a missed call and you think it is from UNHCR, please write to the general UNHCR email mlslu@unhcr.org. Please include your name, your phone number, your UNHCR file number and the phone number you received a missed call from. A UNHCR staff will contact you shortly.

How is UNHCR carrying out RSD interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic and Movement Control Orders (MCO), especially when your Office is closed or when we are unable to travel to get to the UNHCR Office?

When the COVID-19 pandemic and Movement Control Orders started in March 2020, the RSD Unit developed procedures to carry out RSD interviews remotely so that we can continue with RSD interviews even when the Office is closed, or it is prohibited to travel to the Office. Remote RSD interviews have been taking place since May 2020.

What is a remote RSD interview?

A remote interview means that the interview is done over the phone or through video call using either Microsoft Teams or the Signal application. The RSD interviewer contacts you either by sending a link to join the Microsoft Teams call or calls through Signal. If it is not possible to use these applications, the interview may be conducted through a regular call over the phone. If an interpreter is needed, the interpreter also joins this call.

Who is eligible to be interviewed remotely for their RSD interview? 

At this time, remote interviews can only be done for individuals who have the necessary technological requirements and devices (mobile phones, laptop, tablet, good internet connection/access to WiFi)

A remote interview will only take place if you give UNHCR your permission to be interviewed this way and agree to the process. If you do not agree to be interviewed in this way, it will not have a negative impact on your UNHCR case. However, you will have to wait until you can come to the Office for an interview.

Before the remote RSD interview:

Before the remote interview, you will receive a call from a UNHCR RSD staff. During this call, the staff member will make sure that you understand the process and requirements of the interview. This includes:

  • verifying your identity;
  • explaining what a remote interview is;
  • explaining what technology is required (phone, internet connection, what applications to download before the interview);
  • getting your permission for the RSD Unit to interview you remotely; 
  • checking if you have a safe and confidential space for the interview;
  • informing you about the date and time of the actual remote RSD interview.

On the day of the remote RSD interview: 

On the day of the remote interview, the RSD Interviewer will call you through Microsoft Teams or Signal or the phone. If needed, an interpreter will join the call. The interview will last just as long as an interview at the Office (up to a few hours).

At the end of the call, the UNHCR officer will explain what to expect after the interview.

IT IS NOT PERMITTED FOR YOU TO RECORD ANY CALL OR INTERVIEW MADE BY UNHCR. THIS IS A BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY. IF UNHCR DISCOVERS THAT YOU HAVE RECORDED A CALL OR AN INTERVIEW, THIS WILL BE NOTED IN YOUR FILE.

When will UNHCR start RSD interviews in the Office again?

UNHCR will only be able to resume activities in the Office in Kuala Lumpur when movement restrictions are gradually lifted by the Government of Malaysia and in accordance with Government Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on the maximum number of people that can gather in one location. 

The Office has reconstructed its Reception Centre. Interview rooms have been designed to ensure the health and safety of UNHCR staff, Interpreters and Persons of Concern (POCs). Interviews that can take place in the Office will be conducted in a so-called two-room setup. The interviewer is in one room and the POC is in another room next door. The interviewer will be able to see and talk to the POC through a window between the two rooms.

I have been informed that I have an RSD interview coming up, is there anything I should do to prepare for it?

If your RSD interview will take place in the UNHCR Office

You need to bring family members that are registered and included in your UNHCR file. Examples of family members that might be included in your file are spouses and children. You should also bring with you any documents (including your UNHCR document) or other evidence and papers that you think might be relevant for your case. 

When you arrive at UNHCR, it might take a while before you are called to start your interview. It might be good to bring some food and water with you while you wait. 

Please come to the Office at least 30 minutes before your scheduled RSD interview appointment. If you arrive late, UNHCR may not be able to interview you on that day. 

If you have a legal representative, please inform them of your RSD interview appointment. 

If the RSD interviewer needs to interview your family members, they will be called in to be interviewed separately after you have completed your interview. 

Please make sure that you are feeling well before you come to the UNHCR Office. If you are sick or unwell or have a fever, please do not come to the UNHCR Office. You can call or send a message to the RSD staff who contacted you for your RSD appointment and tell them you are unable to come and would like to reschedule your appointment to another date.  

There is nothing you need to prepare for your RSD interview. The RSD interviewer will guide you through the interview, explain the process, and ask you questions about your background and why you left your country to seek asylum in Malaysia. For more information, please go to the question “What will the UNHCR officer ask me during the RSD interview?” below.

If your RSD Interview will take place remotely

Be ready to join the call on Microsoft Teams or Signal or your phone on the date and time shared with you. 

Make sure you have downloaded the applications as explained to you by the RSD staff who called you and check that your internet connection is working and that your phone or device is charged.

Make sure you are in a confidential and private space and that you are ready and available to participate in the interview for a few hours. Other people cannot be in the same room when you are being interviewed.

Family members registered and included in your file might also need to be interviewed. Make sure they are also ready when it is their turn to be interviewed remotely. They need to also be in a confidential and private space. Others cannot be in the same room when your family member is being interviewed. 

If you have a legal representative, please inform them of your RSD interview appointment.

What if I need to submit more documents after my interview, do I have to come to the office to do that?

You do not need to come to the Office. You can send an email to the RSD unit at mlslursd@unhcr.org and attach a copy of the documents to the email. You can simply take a picture of the documents and attach them as copies to the email. Please write your case number, name and phone number in the email. 

If you were interviewed remotely for RSD, you can send a copy of the documents through Signal or WhatsApp, in the same way the RSD staff contacted you for your interview. 

You can also ask the RSD interviewer at the end of your RSD interview how you can share additional documents.

My community members told me that if I say certain things, I have a better chance of being recognized. I am worried that my case is weak.

It is important that you tell the truth about your own experiences and cooperate in giving information during your interview. If you do not inform UNHCR that you gave an untruthful account of your experiences and it is discovered later that you misled UNHCR, this may negatively affect your RSD case.

I am worried about sharing all the details of my case. What if the authorities of my country or people I know in my country find out?

Everything you say will be kept strictly confidential and cannot be shared with any third parties outside of UNHCR unless you agree to it. Details of your case will not be shared with the authorities of your country. If UNHCR needs to share your information with a third party, we must obtain your consent/permission first. 

Even when you send copies of documents to the RSD Unit email or through Signal or WhatsApp, those documents will be securely stored in your physical file and a secure electronic storage platform. Copies of the documents you sent through email, Signal or WhatsApp will be deleted/destroyed.

Do other family members in my file also have to be interviewed during the RSD process?

Other family members registered and included in your file may need to be interviewed individually and separately. They may have their own individual reasons for seeking asylum/international protection. It is their right to be heard separately. The RSD interviewer will decide if this is necessary depending on the circumstances of your case.  

If you are being interviewed in the UNHCR Office, all individuals included in your file, both adult and children, need to come to the Office on the day of your RSD interview. The RSD interviewer needs to see them in the Office on the day of the interview.

I want to add new family members to my UNHCR file. They are not yet registered with UNHCR. How do I do this?

Click here to make a request to Add New Family Members to your file.

How long will the RSD interview take?

It depends on the circumstances and details of your case. The interview could last for one hour or it could last for several hours. You will be able to ask for a break if you need one.

What will the UNHCR Officer/RSD interviewer ask me during the RSD interview?

The RSD interviewer will ask you many different types of questions. Some of them will be about your identity and where you come from. Some of them will be about the reasons why you left your country. Sometimes you might not understand why the RSD interviewer is asking certain types of questions and that is ok. The RSD interviewer is just trying to get a complete picture of your case so UNHCR can take a correct decision. You can always ask the RSD interviewer to clarify or repeat the questions if you do not understand something.

IT IS NOT PERMITTED FOR YOU TO RECORD ANY CALL OR INTERVIEW MADE BY UNHCR. THIS IS A BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY. IF UNHCR DISCOVERS THAT YOU HAVE RECORDED A CALL OR AN INTERVIEW, THIS WILL BE NOTED IN YOUR FILE.

What are my rights and obligations during the RSD process?

It is your right to be interviewed in a language that you are comfortable speaking. If you feel that there are communication problems with the interpreter, you may request for a change of interpreter during any part of the RSD process. Do not worry, this will not affect your case in anyway. It is important that you have an interpreter suited to your needs to ensure accuracy of information. The interpreter’s role during the RSD interview is only to interpret the questions asked by the RSD interviewer and the answers you give. The interpreter plays a completely neutral role and plays no part at all in the decision made in your case. 

You also have the right to confidentiality, the right to ask for a break during the interview, and the right to ask the interviewer to explain the purpose of the RSD interview if they have not already done that at the beginning of the interview. If you do not feel well enough to continue with the interview, please tell the RSD interviewer. If you have a medical condition that you think UNHCR should be aware of, please tell the RSD interviewer. 

The RSD interviewer will also inform you that the interview will be audio-recorded and that a written transcript of the questions and answers will be taken during the interview. 

You have the obligation to provide a truthful account of your identity and your reasons for seeking asylum. You also have the obligation to cooperate with the RSD interviewer during the RSD interview.

It is in your best interest to provide as much detail as possible about the reasons why you left your country and why you are seeking asylum. 

IT IS NOT PERMITTED FOR YOU TO RECORD ANY CALL OR INTERVIEW MADE BY UNHCR. THIS IS A BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY. IF UNHCR DISCOVERS THAT YOU HAVE RECORDED A CALL OR AN INTERVIEW, THIS WILL BE NOTED IN YOUR FILE.

What if I feel I need to change my interviewer? I think a male interviewer is not suitable for my case. What should I do?

It is your right to request for an RSD interviewer of another gender that is suited to your case, if you do not feel comfortable with the gender of the interviewer assigned to process your case. Doing so will not affect your case in any way. 

It is not a right to request for an RSD interviewer of a different nationality, religion or ethnic background. All UNHCR staff operate on the basis of the principle of neutrality and their nationality and background will not influence their ability to perform their duty in an objective way. 

If there are specific reasons why you feel strongly against being interviewed by a particular RSD interviewer, please inform the RSD interviewer you do not wish to proceed with the interview and that you would like them to bring this to the attention of their manager. The RSD manager will consider the matter, but there is no guarantee your request will be accepted if there are no exceptional reasons for changing your interviewer.

Is it possible for me to have legal representation in my case? Does UNHCR allow this?

Yes you have the right to engage the services of a qualified legal representative, at your own cost or on a pro bono basis (free of charge). The legal representative should have the necessary training and/or experience to perform this role.

I do not know anyone who can legally represent me during the RSD process. Where can I get help to find someone who can do this?

An organisation named Asylum Access Malaysia (AAM) may be able to assist you. AAM is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that is able to provide legal assistance and representation for RSD procedures. It is independent of UNHCR and the Malaysian Government, and all services are free of charge. For more information on AAM’s location and contact information:

Website: http://asylumaccess.org/program/malaysia/ 

Address:
No. 8-4, Jalan Bangsar Utama 9
Bangsar Utama
59000, Kuala Lumpur
Telephone: +60103685438 (messages can also be sent to Signal on this number)
Email: malaysia@asylumaccess.org

Please note that AAM has limited capacity and may not be able to offer assistance to every person requesting for services. Due to the current Movement Control Order (MCO) restrictions, all Asylum Access staff are working from home. Please do not go to their office during this time. You can contact them by phone or email instead until further notice.

You can also refer to the Malaysian Bar Council Legal Aid Centre, which operates a Migrant and Refugee Clinic providing free legal advice, representation and assistance to refugees and migrant workers. Apart from representation in Court, through its volunteers, it facilitates liaison between its clients and the Malaysian police, labour, immigration and other departments for the resolution of criminal charges and civil disputes. For more information on the Malaysian Bar Council Legal Aid Centre:

Website: http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/legal_aid_centres.html

Address:
Migrant and Refugee Clinic
9th Floor Wisma Kraftangan
50100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I have already had my RSD interview. How long do I need to wait for the RSD results?

That depends on the details of your case. Each case is considered individually. Because of the high number of applications we receive, you may need to wait several months to receive your results or even be called for another interview to ask you more questions before completing your case. We appreciate your understanding and patience. The RSD Unit tries its best to finalise RSD decisions within 3 months of your last RSD interview, but due to high volumes of cases, it is not always possible to stick to this timeline. We appreciate your understanding and patience.

It is important you keep UNHCR updated on your phone number, email or other contact information. We will use these details if we need to contact you to come in for another interview or for any other follow up. 

Click here for information on How to Update Your Phone Number.

What happens if I get a positive RSD result? How will I know if I am recognized as a refugee?

There are two stages of the RSD process – the First Instance RSD stage and the Appeal Stage. If you are recognized as a refugee at any of those stages, you will be contacted by a UNHCR staff and given an appointment to approach the Office to be informed of your positive RSD decision and to receive a UNHCR card. There may however be delays in contacting you for an appointment to approach the Office to receive your UNHCR card. It depends on how the situation develops during the COVID-19 pandemic and Movement Control Order (MCO) and when it is possible for UNHCR to resume its activities in the Reception Centre.

What happens if I get a negative RSD result? What if I am rejected at the first instance stage?

There are two stages of the RSD process – the First Instance RSD stage and the Appeal Stage. If you are rejected at the first instance RSD stage, the following will take place:

You will be contacted by an RSD staff and given an appointment to receive your RSD result. You may need to be informed of the RSD result in person in the UNHCR Office or you may receive your RSD decision remotely through Microsoft Teams, Signal or a phone call. It depends on how the situation develops with the COVID-19 pandemic and Movement Control Orders and also what is most convenient for you.

If you have been asked to come to the Office to receive your RSD result, the decision will be delivered to you in writing in a letter. The reasons for the negative decision will also be explained to you by an RSD staff. You have the right to appeal this decision after being notified of your negative result. 

Before COVID-19, you would normally have 30 days to submit your appeal application starting from the day you were notified of your negative RSD result. Because of movement restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR has extended the appeal deadline to 60 days. The RSD staff will give you an appeal application form to fill. The RSD staff will explain to you how you can return the appeal application form to the RSD Unit. 

You can send your appeal application by post. You can fill it in a language of your choice. Please address the envelope to:

UNHCR: RSD Unit

570 Jalan Bukit Petaling

50460 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

You can also send your appeal application by email to mlslursd@unhcr.org. You must write “Appeal Request” in the subject of the email and include your name, your UNHCR file number and updated contact number in the text of the email. 

If the RSD staff contacts you to inform you that your RSD decision is ready but it is not possible to inform you in person in the Office, they will ask for your consent/permission to inform you of your RSD decision remotely. If you agree to be notified of your RSD decision remotely, you will be given a date and time for that call. The reasons for the negative RSD decision will be explained during that call in the same way as when someone is notified in person in the Office. The RSD staff will explain to you during that call how you can submit an appeal to the RSD Unit electronically so you do not need to come to the Office. 

If you do not submit an appeal application within the specified time period and you do not have exceptional reasons for failing to submit an appeal before the deadline, your file will be closed. 

At the appeal stage, your case will be processed and reviewed by a different set of RSD staff, not the same one who interviewed you the first time.

You have a right to legal representation at the appeal stage, either at your own cost or on a pro bono basis (free of charge). The legal representative should have the necessary training and/or experience to perform this role. For more information on how to get help with legal representation, please click here.

What can I expect after I submit an appeal application?

This will depend on the circumstances of your case and the reasons you included in your appeal application. Not everyone who submits an appeal application will be called for another interview. It is possible that a decision is made based only on the available information in your file and appeal application. But you may also be contacted for an appeal interview. It depends on the circumstances of your case. 

If you have new issues or evidence you want to raise in your appeal application that you did not raise when you had your first RSD interview with UNHCR, you may do this. If you want to raise problematic issues related to interpretation or the how the RSD interviewer handled your case you can also do this in your appeal application. 

After your case is reviewed at the appeal stage, you may receive either a positive or negative decision. For information on what to expect when you are recognized at the appeal stage, please click here. 

If you are rejected at the appeal stage, you will be contacted by an RSD staff and given an appointment to receive your RSD Appeal result. You may need to be informed of the RSD Appeal result in person in the UNHCR Office or you may receive your RSD Appeal decision remotely through Microsoft Teams, Signal or a phone call. It depends on how the situation develops with the COVID-19 pandemic and Movement Control Orders and also what is most convenient for you.

If you have been asked to come to the Office to receive your RSD Appeal result, the decision will be delivered to you in writing in a letter. 

If the RSD staff contacts you to inform you that your RSD Appeal decision is ready but it is not possible to inform you in person in the Office, they will ask for your consent/permission to inform you of your RSD Appeal decision remotely. If you agree to be notified of your RSD Appeal decision remotely, you will be given a date and time for that call. 

Once your case is rejected at the Appeal stage your UNHCR file will be closed. You cannot appeal this RSD decision and it is considered final. You will no longer be issued any UNHCR documentation.

I was informed that my file with UNHCR was closed. Why did UNHCR close my file?

There are several reasons why your file might have been closed. 

When you do not present yourself for your RSD interview on the date given to you, your RSD application is considered abandoned. This applies for in-person appointments at the Office and for remote RSD interviews. UNHCR will try to contact you for a period of 6 weeks after your original appointment was scheduled. Your file will be closed when UNHCR is unable to reach you after this period, and there is no other information to explain why you were unable to attend your interview.

Your file will also be closed if you did not submit an appeal application within the deadline provided after receiving your first instance negative RSD result.

If your RSD case is rejected at the Appeal stage, your file will be closed. 

If you leave Malaysia, whether to return to your country or if you go to another country, your file with UNHCR will also be closed.

How can I reopen my file with UNHCR after it was closed and how can I get a new UNHCR document?

You can submit a written reopening request by email to the RSD Unit email at mlslursd@unhcr.org in a language of your choice.

You must write “Reopening Request” in the subject of the email and include your name, your UNHCR file number and updated contact number in the text of the email.

You can also send your reopening request by post in a language of your choice. Please address the envelope to:

UNHCR: RSD Unit

570 Jalan Bukit Petaling

50460 Kuala Lumpur

If your file was closed because you did not show up for your RSD interview in person or did not show up for your remote RSD interview

You must explain why you want your file reopened and why you missed your RSD interview appointment.

The RSD Unit will review your reopening request and assess if you have given a satisfactory reason for missing your appointment and make a decision on whether to reopen your file.

If the RSD unit decides to reopen your file you will be contacted with further details on a new RSD interview appointment and what to expect next.

If your file was closed because you did not submit an appeal application within the deadline after receiving your first instance negative RSD result

You must explain why you did not submit an appeal application within the deadline. Again, the RSD Unit will review the request and assess if you have given a satisfactory explanation for not submitting an appeal request within the deadline. 

If your file was closed because your case was rejected at the appeal stage

When you are rejected on appeal and your file is closed you are no longer considered a person of concern to UNHCR. Your RSD case was already assessed in detail and you were not found to meet the refugee criteria. This means that you will now need to take your own measures to either regularise your status in Malaysia so you are not in the country illegally, or consider other options if this is not possible. If you want to consider returning home to your country, click here to go to the Voluntary Return section of the website.

You can still choose to submit a reopening request if your RSD case was rejected at the appeal stage, but there is no guarantee that your file will be reopened after a final rejection. The RSD Unit already assessed your case two times. The time it will take for the RSD unit to review your reopening application after a final rejection at the appeal stage may be very lengthy. 

The process of reopening a person’s file after they have been rejected on appeal is a very exceptional one with only very specific criteria that may apply. Your file may only be reopened after a final rejection on appeal if: 1) there has been a significant change in your country that now may affect your claim to refugee status, or 2) there has been a significant change in your personal circumstances or new information has come up after your rejection on appeal, and that change or new information may affect your claim to refugee status. 

 

Needing a UNHCR document or medical issues may be a change in personal circumstances, but it is not a development that affects your claim to refugee status and it is not related to the criteria for file reopening. 

If your file was closed because you left Malaysia, and you have now returned to Malaysia and want to reopen your file

Please contact the Registration Unit through the Registration hotline at 017 614 3810 for further inquiries about reopening your file when you have left Malaysia and have returned. The hotline’s operating hours are Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Click here for other Registration Related Inquiries

I was recognized as a refugee by another UNHCR office in another country. Why am I still not considered a refugee and given a UNHCR card here?

When a person has been recognized as a refugee by another UNHCR office in another country, UNHCR in Malaysia needs to verify that information with the other office first and get the details of your file from them before we can confirm your refugee status. Sometimes that can be done quickly and sometimes it takes a little longer. Each situation is different. The more information and documentation you give our Office in Malaysia about your previous status and file number with the other UNHCR office, the faster the process will be. 

Once we receive confirmation of your status from the other UNHCR office, we might still need to interview you briefly to gather additional information to assess whether your refugee status can be confirmed.

I was given a UNHCR card but I did not have an RSD interview. I think I had something called a Status Verification Process (SVP) interview many years ago. Why do others have their RSD interview and not me? I want to explain my circumstances to UNHCR.

The Office may have been using a different name for it at the time, but the Status Verification Process (SVP) was actually a type of RSD interview, as you were asked about your identity, your experiences, where you are from etc. This means that if you had an SVP interview some years ago, that was actually your RSD interview. 

It is possible that when you went through your SVP interview, a final RSD decision was not taken. However, the information and documents you submitted at the time might have provided enough information in your case to conclude that you may have international protection needs, and you received a UNHCR card. The card means that you are a person of concern to UNHCR. If UNHCR needs further information from you, we will contact you for another interview.

I had my SVP interview many years ago and I was given a UNHCR card. But I do not think I was recognized as a refugee. I think I am still an asylum seeker. I want to complete my RSD process so I know if I am a refugee or not.

If your status is still asylum-seeker you need to complete the RSD process to determine whether or not you are a refugee. Due to the high volume of applications from asylum-seekers and the limited capacity of the RSD Unit, it may take time before you are contacted and scheduled for an RSD interview. It is even more challenging for the RSD Unit to carry out RSD interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic and Movement Control Orders (MCO) put in place by the Government of Malaysia. 

Currently the RSD Unit is prioritising RSD interviews for asylum-seekers who have vulnerabilities, specific needs and have heightened protection risks, including those who are detained and at risk of being forcibly returned to their country. This means that asylum-seekers who do not have any urgent or emergency protection or specific needs at the moment and who have a UNHCR document, will have to wait some time before they are contacted for an RSD interview. 

I need to be recognized as a refugee so I can move on to resettlement. I already have a UNHCR card. I have already been here for many years and I have many problems living in Malaysia.

Having a UNHCR card or being recognized as a refugee does not automatically mean that you are eligible for resettlement. The length of stay in Malaysia also does not make a refugee eligible for resettlement. The resettlement submission categories are explained in Chapter 6 of the UNHCR Resettlement Handbook. 

Only a small number of refugees are considered for resettlement globally. There is still a tremendous gap between resettlement needs of refugees globally and the places made available by governments around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has also seriously impacted UNHCR’s resettlement activities worldwide and particularly resettlement departures due to travel restrictions and border closures since early 2020. UNHCR continues to advocate and appeal for increased resettlement opportunities at the global level. Increasing refugee resettlement opportunities and other complementary pathways for admission, including through family reunification, work and study opportunities, is one of the key objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees. Click here for more information on UNHCR’s Resettlement Data 

Because resettlement places are limited, individuals need to be prioritised for resettlement according to urgency and the seriousness of the protection and resettlement needs. 

Note that UNHCR does not decide who gets accepted for resettlement. This is the decision of the resettlement country.

If you have any particular issues or problems you wish to bring to UNHCR’s attention you can click on the Contact Us section of our website. Depending on the type of issues or problems you tell us about, the relevant UNHCR department may contact you.

I have other questions which are not answered on this page. How can UNHCR help me?
If you have any particular issues or problems you wish to bring to UNHCR’s attention you can click on the Contact Us section of our website. Depending on the type of issues or problems you tell us about, the relevant UNHCR department may contact you. 

If you face a serious problem with police or authorities in Malaysia, you can contact the Detention Hotline number: 012 630 5060, which operates Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the English and Malay languages. Or click here to make an Arrest and Detention Report on our website.

Click here for Registration related inquiries or call the Registration Hotline at 017 614 3810, which operates from Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Click here for more information on where and how to access Health Services.

Click here for more information on Services for Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) 

Click here for more information on Child Protection Services

Click here for more information on where to access Education Services, or click here for General Education Inquiries

ALL UNHCR SERVICES ARE FREE OF CHARGE!

MAKE A REPORT IF YOU HAVE BEEN ASKED TO PAY FOR ANY UNHCR SERVICE:

EMAIL

UNHCR Kuala Lumpur: mlslufrd@unhcr.org

Inspector General’s Office (IGO): inspector@unhcr.org

OR drop your Complaint at the RED MAILBOX at Gate B UNHCR Office.

ALL COMPLAINTS WILL BE TREATED CONFIDENTIALLY.

You can also click here to make an Online Complaint (Fraud and Corruption)

IT IS NOT PERMITTED FOR YOU TO RECORD ANY CALL OR INTERVIEW MADE BY UNHCR. THIS IS A BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY. IF UNHCR DISCOVERS THAT YOU HAVE RECORDED A CALL OR AN INTERVIEW, THIS WILL BE NOTED IN YOUR FILE.