Information For Refugees and Asylum-Seekers

Seeking asylum and registering as a refugee in Malaysia

Important Information

Asylum process in Malaysia

If you have fled your own country because you are in danger of suffering serious harm for reasons related to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group or if you are fleeing war, torture, or inhumane and degrading treatment, you can apply for asylum.

The first step in the asylum process is registration.  Registration is the recording, verifying and updating of information on persons of concern to UNHCR.

In order to apply for registration, you have to request an appointment with UNHCR Malaysia. Individuals can request an appointment online using the Contact Form available on this website.

Once you have submitted your request, kindly wait for UNHCR to contact you regarding an appointment. All requests sent will be processed but due to the high amount of submissions, UNHCR will not be able to respond immediately. If you have already sent an appointment request, please do not send another.

Your appointment with UNHCR Malaysia

Once you have been contacted by UNHCR Malaysia regarding an appointment date, you can prepare for your meeting.

All persons seeking asylum (including family members and/or any other dependents) should be present for your registration appointment.

It is important that you provide correct, truthful and complete information when registering. Incomplete or incorrect information may be detrimental to your case.

You must ensure that you give details of all your family members whether they are with you in Malaysia or elsewhere in the world. All family members include those that are adopted legally or by custom. Family members also include parents (birth and/or adoptive), brothers and sisters (full, half, step, adopted), children (biological, adoptive, step-children and from previous marriage or relationship).

Each person registered will receive a file number. All further communication with the Office must indicate the file number.

Once registered with UNHCR you will be issued with a UNHCR card or other documentation with a validity date that will be indicated. Please approach the Office to renew your UNHCR card or documentation close to the date of its expiry.

What is a UNHCR card and what status does it provide?

Individuals registered through UNHCR’s processing as needing international protection will be provided a UNHCR Card or other appropriate documentation that will say that the bearer of the card or document is under the protection of UNHCR.

UNHCR identity documentation provides a level of protection which may reduce the risk of arrest, and allow limited access to health services, education and other essential support services from UNHCR, its partner organizations or other actors.

The UNHCR card is only an identity document that recognizes that you are under UNHCR protection.  It has no formal legal value in Malaysia and is not a passport.

What do I need to bring?

Please bring all documents relevant to your case, including passports, identity papers, marriage certificate, birth certificate, family census or national identity document, military service booklets, medical certificates, evidence of previous registration with another UNHCR office, UNRWA office or a foreign government.

Please bring any UNHCR-issued document such as an identity card, “under consideration” letter, appointment card, and referral letter on your appointment date. Any documentation received from a UNHCR Office other than Malaysia should also be presented.

Refugee status determination (RSD) interviews will only be conducted for certain categories of cases with specific protection needs or concerns. You will be specifically advised by UNHCR if you need to go through a full RSD interview.

Adult family members will be interviewed individually.  Please ensure you submit any documents and evidence available regarding your application and inform UNHCR of any family members accompanying you.

You have a right to be interviewed in a language in which you can communicate. If you do not understand the interpreter, you must tell the UNHCR Officer conducting the interview. 

You may also be assisted by a legal representative who qualifies under UNHCR’s established procedures.  Asylum Access is an organization providing free legal aid to refugees for this procedure. To request assistance, email malaysia@asylumaccess.org in your own language explaining the reasons you are unable to go back to your country and why you need legal assistance.

How long will it take to decide my refugee status?

This depends on the nature of your case, as each case has to be considered individually. However, due to the number of applications the Office processes it may take several months to be scheduled for an appointment or receive your results. We thank you for your understanding and patience.

What if it is decided that I am not a refugee at first instance?

If you are notified with a negative decision after an RSD interview you have the right to submit an appeal request within 30 days. When you submit an appeal, your file will be reviewed by a different UNHCR Officer than the one who interviewed you initially.

If the First Instance decision is overturned, you will be granted refugee status. If the First Instance decision is confirmed your file will be closed.

Frequently Asked Questions

An asylum-seeker is a person who has expressed fear of return to their country of origin either at a port of entry or after entering Malaysia.  Asylum-seekers must complete an asylum application to be officially registered as an asylum seeker by UNHCR.

Following registration as an asylum -seeker, a refugee status determination procedure will be conducted to determine who is a refugee.  In the absence of national legislation, UNHCR determines who is a refugee based on the refugee definition in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its own mandate.

Asylum-seekers are protected from forced return to their country of origin from the time they express a fear of return until a final decision on refugee status is determined by UNHCR.

If you are afraid to return to your country of origin, or your previous country of residence, because you are in danger of suffering serious harm for reasons related to your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, you can claim asylum in Malaysia.

A refugee is a person who has been forced to flee his or her country because of war, violence, or persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution and, because of such fear, cannot return home or is afraid to do so because he or she would not be able to find protection there.

Following registration as an asylum-seeker, a refugee status determination procedure will be conducted to determine who is a refugee. In the absence of national legislation, UNHCR determines who is a refugee based on the refugee definition in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its own mandate.

Refugees are protected from forced return to their country of origin.