Answer to a question from a reader

Can refugee matriculants renew their permits and apply for ID this year (2021)?

The short answer

Asylum/refugee status has been renewed up to 31 March 2021. You can apply for an ID.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I want to know if refugee matriculants can renew their refugee permits and apply for a refugee ID card in 2021.

The long answer

The Scalabrini Organisation, based in Cape Town, issued a press statement on 20 December 2020, noting that Home Affairs confirmed the following: if your asylum seeker status or refugee status has expired, or is due to expire from 15 March 2020 onwards, it is considered to have been renewed up to 31 March 2021.

They go on to note that Home Affairs has said that refugee or asylum permits that expired during lockdown will not be subject to any penalties. The Refugee Reception Offices have been closed since the beginning of the lockdown and are still closed until further notice.

The Minister for Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, has published a national gazette, detailing what services will be available under the extended level 3 lockdown. (I have bolded the one that applies to you):

  • Births registration;

  • Re-issuance of births certificates;

  • Late registration of birth for learners and pensioners only;

  • Death registration;

  • Applications for temporary identity certificate;

  • Collection of identity cards or documents;

  • Applications and collection of passports for those who are exempted to travel;

  • Applications for identity (smart) cards or documents for matriculants only;

  • All Back Office operational services to support front offices on the above services; and

  • Visa services in terms of the Immigration Act for those categories of persons who are exempted to enter the Republic.

On 12 January 2021, Home Affairs said that because of the rise in Covid-19 infections due to people not observing social distancing in the long queues at Home Affairs offices, they would be suspending the following services until further notice: 

  • Applications for Smart ID Cards, except for matriculants

  • Applications for passports, except for people who fall in the categories permitted to travel in the amended Disaster Management Act Regulations

  • Marriage services such as solemnisation and registration.

They ask people not to come to collect their ID cards at Home Affairs unless they are specifically invited by SMS.

If you need further advice about this, you can contact the Scalabrini Organisation’s Advocacy Programme at 078 260 3536, or you can send them a please-call-me between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Feb. 5, 2021, 1 p.m.

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