What happens when I get into the Refugee Reception Office?

Once you access the refugee office, you are likely to have what is called a first interview. In the process you will have to respond to the following questions amongst others:

Your name
Your nationality
Your ethnic group
Your religion
The number of people in your family
Whether you have any identity or travel documents
If you have been to South Africa before
Education and work experience
Whether you have done military service
A brief statement of the reasons as to why you left your country
A brief description of your country and place of residence
Name of organisations/political parties that you have been a member of

The answers you give in this interview are very important as the Home Affairs officials will use these to decide whether you qualify for refugee status or not. Later on, you will have a second interview and the officials will look to see that your story is still the same.
Once you complete the application form with the Refugee Reception Officer, your fingerprints will be taken. A file will be created for you and with this you receive a case number and a file number. It is very important that you write down these numbers in case you lose your permit papers.

My English is not very good. Can I bring someone to help me with my interview?

Yes. It is important that you bring someone you trust with you as you need to be sure that they are translating the information you tell them correctly. Some people may offer to interpret for you but be careful about who you trust with this as this is a very important interview. If you do get someone you don’t know to interpret for you, make sure you agree on their fee before the interview.