Throughout history, the Dominican Republic has not entered the list of the most attractive countries to seek international protection; however, since a decade ago, the number of applications has had a significant increase. Thus, to date, about 50,000 refugees have been registered, which is attributed to the excellent development opportunities of the island, especially in terms of tourism.
However, entering the country as an asylum seeker is not an easy task; in fact, the rejection rate of applications is very high. Statistics from the National Commission for Refugees (CONARE), indicate that, in 2013, only 2% of the requests were approved. With the justification that the evidence was not credible or simply did not meet the criteria established in the refugee statutes, which were dictated by the 1951 UN Convention.
The aforementioned is due to the fact that the applicants do not carry out correctly the steps of the procedure; duly established in the laws of the Dominican Republic. Therefore, we will explain the procedure to follow if you need to emigrate from your nation and start a life without persecution in one of the best Caribbean islands.
Basic considerations for requesting refuge
It is essential to know that the Dominican government together with the National Office for Refugees (ONR) and the National Commission for Refugees (CONARE), determines who is entitled to receive humanitarian asylum. The working basis, fully respected, is the legal statutes and clauses published in 1984.
An important point to mention is that the asylum process in the Dominican Republic was deactivated by CONARE in 2002 due to lack of standardization of the steps to follow. It was in 2012 when the commission resumed its operations, after the creation of manuals with sufficient information to help citizens who required to stay in the country as refugees.
On the other hand, for the Dominican Republic, those who can apply for asylum are those who have been forced to flee of your country and they fear to returndue to:
- violent chases for reasons of race, religion, nationality or opposition to the political ideas of the government.
- Discrimination for belonging to specific social groups, such as LGBTQ.
- Inability to be supported by the security forces of their country, in the face of threats and persecution.
If we talk about time, CONARE has imposed the shorter terms in the Dominican Republic in relation to those of other countries. The reason for such a benefit is due to the desire to compensate for the state of vulnerability and misinformation that crossed the country for many years. This being one of the most important advantages for petitioners who arrive on the island.
Finally, consider that you will not be able to perform no paid joblegally, during the evaluation time of the application for refugee status. That is, you need to have a solid economic base that allows you to support yourself during that period or go to the social programs of the United Nations Agency for Refugees.
Procedure for processing an asylum request
To begin with, consider that since you arrive in the Dominican Republic you will only have 15 days to apply; which you will do at the nearest National Office for Refugees (ONR). The petition must be accompanied by Identification documents and those supporting facts of the flight
You must also include evidence to support that the security agencies, from your country of origin, have been incompetent in the face of the situation that afflicts you. The basic requirements to request asylum are the following:
- Passport, ID card or identity card, processed in the country of origin. In case of not having any of them, submit a sworn statement to the National Office for Refugees (ONR).
- Medical report indicating or ruling out infectious pathologies.
- Four passport-type photographs, front view and two in profile.
- Handwritten explanatory letter, stating the reasons, in detail, that prevent you from returning to your home country.
- Any relevant evidence or documents to support the application, such as: statements, photographs, certificates, videos, reports, etc.
If you wish to validate that the information in your hands meets the above specifications, seek legal advice. To do so, you can go to the centers of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Their lawyers are the best suited to guide you before, during and after you start the asylum process; and, in addition, they do it for free. Contact their team at +1 (809) 480-7946.
Step 1. Make an appearance at the ONR office
Once on the island, regardless of the entry route, you must inform the ONR authorities of your desire to apply for refuge; not to exceed 15 days from the date of entry. If this period expires, the probabilities of approval are lower, since, for the officials, this means that the fear you feel is not so strong.
On the day in question, hand in all the documents you have to the assigned officer. It should be noted that the refugee office is located at the Santo Domingo headquarters, located in the General Directorate of Migration.
Step 2. Complete the ONR form
After receipt of the documents, the ONR officer will will provide a form; which, you will have to fill out completely. This represents the formalization of the requestso that it can later be evaluated by CONARE.
Now you’ll just have to wait for one certificate proving the procedure and that includes each member of the family. With this, everyone will be able to remain in the Dominican Republic, without being expelled, until there is a final decision of the case. In other words, it is a document that they must always go out with, in order to show it if a state police officer wants to know their identity. legal status.
Step 3. Personal interview
The day you complete the form, the officer will indicate the date and place of the personal interview. Although they may also tell you that they will send the notification to the registered address; everything will depend on the workload at the time and the complexity of the case.
The purpose of the meeting is for you to explain, but now verbally, the reasons for requesting protection from the Dominican Republic. As in the explanatory letter, do not forget any detail that adds value to the decision. The dialogue will be reflected in an official document that will be signed by those present at the end of the interview.
It is important to note that the information provided is handled with strict confidentiality, being used exclusively for the analysis of granting or refusal of protection. The officials are prohibited from disclosing any information or communication with the country of origin, as established by the law published in 1984.
Step 4. Procedure response
they only exist two types of decisions for the international protection procedure in the Dominican Republic. These are:
- Passed. Grants recognition of refugee status. The ONR will issue a recommendation to the General Directorate of Migration (DGM), so that it provides you with the residence permit. It is valid for one year, but with the option of renewal.
- Rejected. You will have to leave the country; however, you could appeal the decision. To do this, you have a period of no more than 7 days. If after a new review the answer does not change, you will have to find another way to regularize your immigration status in the country.
Rights and duties
CONARE and UNHCR, hand in hand with the State of the Dominican Republic, work to establish the benefits and obligations of those who request and have been approved as refugees. The mission of the work team is to achieve maximum social integration, which contributes to the development of the country. Let’s see what are the benefits and commitments you assume with the country:
|The State must guarantee that the applicant is not deported to the country of origin, while a final decision on the case is generated.||Identify yourself in a timely manner, declare truthfully and not omit or hide relevant information.|
|Obtain clear, precise, timely and free information on the procedures for applying for refugee status.||Clearly provide all the facts and reasons that led you to file an application for refugee status.|
|Free mobility and the right not to be detained when presenting the proof of application, during the evaluation period of the case.||Deliver the documentation or evidence requested, which allows validating the arguments presented.|
|To present before CONARE all the evidence that it considers pertinent to justify the request.||If you entered the country illegally, justify the reasons that led you to carry out this action.|
|To select an interpreter if your native language does not correspond to the one used in the Dominican Republic.||Notify ONR or CONARE of any change in the status of the family group (marriage, divorce, birth or death).|
|Make an appeal in case CONARE rejects the request.||Respect the laws of the country and avoid leaving the Dominican Republic. If you have to do it, inform the competent bodies.|
|Go to social programs in the country.||Keep the ONR informed about your place of residence. If a change of address is required, it must be reported within a period not exceeding two days.|
Without a doubt, the Dominican Republic has taken important steps to provide international protection. The formalization of procedures and the creation of Work groupsencourage people to currently consider that it is a allied country where they can redeem their fears.
Hence, now, this is a territory with a excellent reception system, as avant-garde as that of other nations with more years of experience in the management of the refugee population. In short, if you find yourself in a persecution situation and you think that your life is at risk, come to the Dominican Republic and request international protection. The process is one of the fastest in CONARE. Do not wait more.