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How to apply for asylum in Guatemala

To apply for asylum in Guatemala, you can do this in writing or orally at:

The border control checkpoints by:

Land, air, or sea ports of entry.

In Guatemala City, you need to get closer to the Refugee Status Recognition Department ( DRER ).

Address: 7to Avenida, 14-44, Zone 9, La Galería Building, Office 15B, second level.

You can not apply for asylum in Guatemala in your country of origin. In order to seek asylum in Guatemala, you must first leave your place of origin or last country of residency.

You should know the following:

Guatemalan immigration officers and authorities cannot legally exclude you from entering Guatemalan territory or force you to return to a country where you feel unsafe.

If you can’t return home, contact the UNHCR in Guatemala by:

Find help in Petén, Chiquimula, Izabal, San Marcos, Huehuetenango.

Most websites or apps linked below are in English and Spanish. Use Google TranslateTarjimly, or any other translation service if you need it.

Who can apply for asylum in Guatemala

Can apply for asylum in Guatemala any person who:

Have a fear of persecution based on ethnicity, social group, gender, race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs; you can’t get protection from your home country because you’re outside.

You had to leave your nation or current location due to widespread violence, foreign aggression or occupation, terrorism, internal conflicts, substantial human rights violations, or other severe disruption of public order.

Who the refugees are

A refugee is someone who has fled their nation because their life or the lives of their loved ones are in danger there. War, bloodshed, persecution, and severe human rights abuses force people to migrate across international boundaries.

How to seek asylum in Guatemala

To apply for asylum in Guatemala, there are several steps to follow.

Step 1: The Application

You can fill out the application in writing or verbally at:

  • The border control checkpoints by:
  • Land, air, or sea ports of entry and;
  • To Refugee Status Recognition Department ( DRER ) in Guatemala City.

After the first application, the person must fill out a form at DRER centres explaining why they had to leave their country.

The IGM will then give the person a Provisional Stay Status that must be extended every 30 days.

Step 2: The Interview

Two weeks after the official application, DRER will meet the person who wants to be a refugee so that he or she can explain in detail why he or she left his or her country of origin. All information shared is kept secret and will be looked into and checked.

Step 3: Examining a file

After hearing the case, the National Commission for Refugees (CONARE) will provide:

The National Migration Authority (AMN) will provide a proposal, opinion, or suggestion within 30 days.

Step 4: The Decision

The AMN will rule on the legitimacy of the claim for refugee status.

If the decision is favourable:

The temporary refugee housing must be completed.

If the decision is unfavourable: 

You have ten days to appeal to get it changed. The AMN has five days to report the final ruling.

Note:

The procedure may be challenged in court for a judicial review if the AMN is resolved adversely for a second time.

What happens next

In the case of a successful application:

You must initiate the processes to get temporary residency in Guatemala if the National Immigration Authority determines you are a refugee.

To complete any legal action anywhere in Guatemala after receiving temporary residency, you must visit the National Registry of Persons (RENAP) and receive a Personal Identification Document.

Any refugee, regardless of age, has the legal right to apply for and get an identification document that law enforcement must accept, or the status of the refugee can be terminated.

Why does the refugee status end

Refugee status may end for several reasons:

If you go back to your nation,

If you reclaim your citizenship on your own accord,

You are under the protection of your new country of citizenship if you change your nationality;

If you have returned to the nation you initially fled freely;

If you can no longer avoid returning to your home country for safety because the conditions that made you a refugee no longer exist, then you must do so.

You can go back to the country where you lived before because the reasons you were given refugee status no longer apply if you don’t have a nationality.

Asylum application rejected

You may appeal your denial to the National Migration Authority. Appeal within ten days after refusal. UNHCR and its partners may give free legal support and advice to help you appeal.

If your appeal is refused, you will not be a refugee and may be deported, possibly to your home country. Thus, the Guatemalan government will advise you to leave or find another method to legalize your presence.

Rights and obligations

Refugees and asylum seekers in Guatemala have the following rights:

  1. Not to be returned to their country of origin.
  2. Right to non-discrimination.
  3. Have the right to access free education in State institutions.
  4. Right to work with a valid work permit issued by Mintrab.
  5. To receive free healthcare services.
  6. Right to a Special Personal Identity Document.
  7. To equal and dignified conditions.
  8. Right to a Special Travel Document for one exit and one entry.
  9. Right to free movement and change of residence.
  10. The right to get a driver’s license.

Obligations:

  1. It’s your responsibility to follow Guatemalan laws. Respecting persons, organizations, and entities is part of this.
  2. You’ll be punished like any other Guatemalan if you break the law.

Do you want more information?

Go to:

UNHCR partners


Sources: UNHCR Help in Guatemala

The cover image is in Panajachel, Guatemala. Photo by Christopher González on Unsplash.