How to obtain refugee status in Kazakhstan
Refugees are people who had to leave their country reasonably wary of their lives and freedom and they cannot be protected by their country.
In this material we will describe how to obtain refugee status in Kazakhstan and why a person can be denied of the status.
Who are refugees?
Refugee is a foreigner who, due to reasonable fears of becoming a victim of persecution on the basis of race, nationality, religion, citizenship, belonging to a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her citizenship and cannot be protected by his/her country or does not want to be protected due to such fears, or a stateless individual who is outside the country of his/her permanent residence or nationality, who cannot or does not wish to return there due to such fears.
The concepts of a refugee and a person seeking political asylum are often confused. Political asylum can only be obtained if the threat to life or persecution persists even outside the home country. Usually this includes prominent political figures who can be assassinated or kidnapped by their country's intelligence services.
Where to apply to obtain refugee status?
Within 5 calendar days upon arrival to the Republic of Kazakhstan or from the moment when he/she, being on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, got to know about the occurrence of circumstances to become a victim of persecution on the basis of race, nationality, religion, citizenship, belonging to a particular social group or political opinion, an individual submits a request personally or through an authorized representative to the local subdivision of the authorized body - Migration Services Department under Police Departments of Astana, Almaty, Shymkent and regions (hereinafter: MSD).
On the day of request registration for granting of refugee status in the Republic of Kazakhstan, an asylum-seeker obtains an asylum-seeker certificate and is registered for a period until a decision on his/her request is made. The certificate is issued to foreigners, stateless individuals who have reached the age of 18 for a period of 3 months.
Information on family members under the age of 18 is recorded in an asylum-seeker certificate of one of the parents or legal representatives. An asylum-seeker under the age of 18 and arriving to the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan without parents or legal representatives obtains an asylum-seeker certificate.
An asylum-seeker certificate confirms the legitimacy of stay on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan of a foreigner, stateless individual requesting for refugee status. In the event if a request consideration period is extended, a new asylum-seeker certificate is issued for a period of 3 months instead of an expired one.
When crossing the State Border of the Republic of Kazakhstan, an individual submits a written request to the migration control station, and in the absence of such a station, to the subdivision of the Border Guard Service of the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
In the absence of a checkpoint across the State Border of the Republic of Kazakhstan and in the event of a forced illegal crossing of the State Border of the Republic of Kazakhstan, an individual should apply to MSD within 24 hours.
If a person has not yet arrived to the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, he/she applies personally or through an authorized representative to the diplomatic mission or consular office of the Republic of Kazakhstan with a written request. The diplomatic mission or consular office of the Republic of Kazakhstan submits a request for assignment of refugee status to the MSD for consideration through diplomatic channels.
Request consideration procedure
If a person has declared that he/she does not have identity documents, information about him/her is recorded according to his/her words and an interview is conducted with him/her within one working day. A request is accepted from each family member of an individual who has reached the age of eighteen.
Request consideration procedure involves the following:
- an electronic record is filed on the day of asylum-seeker visit;
- an individual undergoes questionnaire survey within 3 calendar days;
- within 5 calendar days a check is performed through all the records of internal affairs bodies of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as through the records of Legal Statistics and Special Accounts Committee of the General Prosecutor's Office;
- within 15 calendar days following the check, an individual interview is held with an applicant and a questionnaire is drawn up, also a referral for a mandatory medical examination is issued;
- after the interview, a request is sent to the national security authorities with a photocopy of the registration card within one day, while the national security authorities send a response within 30 calendar days;
- when receiving a response, an executive officer verifies the record materials, facts, reliability of the information received, if necessary, sends requests to the government agencies of the Republic of Kazakhstan within 10 calendar day;
- within 10 calendar days after the completion of request consideration and collection of information, a responsible executor prepares materials to be considered at a meeting of the Commission for implementation of the procedure to assign, extend, terminate and withdraw refugee status (hereinafter: the Commission).
If there are valid reasons for extension of the period for request consideration, a head of MSD makes a relevant decision on the recommendation of the Commission and an asylum-seeker is notified about it within 2 working days. Based on the results of request consideration by the Commission, head of MSD makes a decision on the request within 1 calendar day.
In case of positive decision on a request for assignment of refugee status, an individual is subject to fingerprinting within 5 calendar days.
An individual is notified about a decision taken within 5 working days though obtainment of a refugee certificate or substantiated refusal. A refugee status is assigned for one year.
If the previous circumstances persist in a refugee's country of origin, then period of refugee status is extended by a local subdivision of an authorized body for one year and for each subsequent year based on a refugee's request submitted by him/her one month until the end of the specified period.
What are the refugees` rights?
A refugee has basically the same rights and responsibilities as any other foreigner who temporarily arrived to the territory of Kazakhstan. He/she has the right for medical care, legal protection, he/she has the right to establish business and get a job. The only difference is that when being employed a refugee is registered as a hired worker who does not deduct pension contributions.
It means that a refugee does not need to obtain any work permits from the local executive bodies, he/she won`t be regarded as a representative of foreign labour force.
If desired, a refugee can apply for a residence permit in Kazakhstan with subsequent acquisition of citizenship.
If he/she acquired a citizenship, refugee status is automatically terminated. Also, any refugee can apply to the authorized bodies to obtain information about relatives who remained at home country.
Refugees should observe the laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan and before traveling outside Kazakhstan, they should inform the migration service representatives about it in advance.
What are the reasons that can result in denial to assign refugee status?
A request will be denied in the following cases:
- Absence of reasonable fear that a person may become a victim of persecution on the basis of race, nationality, religion, citizenship, belonging to a particular social group or political opinion.
- If an individual refuses to report or reports knowingly false information about himself/herself and about the circumstances of his/her arrival to the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and also submits forged documents.
- an individual has a citizenship of a third country, where he/she can seek protection.
- If an individual came from the territory of a safe third country.
- If in respect of an individual there are compelling reasons to believe that he/she participates or has participated in the activities of terrorist, extremist, as well as prohibited religious organizations operating in the country of citizenship or in the country from which he/she came.
- If there are compelling reasons to believe that an individual has committed a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity based on the definition given to these deeds in international acts concluded for the purpose of taking actions against such crimes.
- If in respect of an individual there are compelling reasons to believe that he/she has committed a serious crime of non-political nature outside the Republic of Kazakhstan before arriving on its territory.
- If in respect of an individual there are compelling reasons to believe that he/she is guilty of committing deeds that contradict the goals and principles of the United Nations and international organizations of which Kazakhstan is a member.
- If an individual is protected or assisted by the United Nations bodies or agencies other than the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Last update: 21.09.2022