Keep up to date with our Teach-Yourself Series – condensed articles on current and planned changes in South African migration law. Our articles and infographics aim to spread awareness on South Africa’s migration landscape, and our standpoints on the i …

Family joining in South Africa Read More »

What is the family joining procedure?

To apply for asylum in South Africa, applicants must fill out a ‘B1590 form’ at a Refugee Reception Office. Asylum applicants must list their family members (spouses and children) in this form. If present, these family members can be documented immediately. This article, however, applies to those family members who arrive in South Africa after the initial application for asylum has been made by the ‘principal applicant’. In other words, this article looks at how children and spouses can apply to join people who already have refugee and asylum seeker permits in South Africa.

Recognised refugees or asylum seekers must assist their dependents during the application process or apply on behalf of the dependents.

Please note: The procedure, below, is subject to change and although this is the procedure in theory, in reality it can differ. This process can take a long time, and clients often leave their contact details at the Refugee Reception Office and await a call-back.

For a refugee (section 24 permit)

For an asylum seeker (section 22 permit)

Step 1 Collect all the necessary documentation. If you need assistance in preparing an affidavit, seek legal or paralegal advice. Collect all the necessary documentation. If you need assistance in preparing an affidavit, seek legal or paralegal advice.
Step 2 Go to the RRO where your permit was first issued. Go to the office where you normally renew your permit.
Step 3 Fill out a family joining form at the Refugee Reception Office and submit your supporting documents, along with the form, to the RSDO Manager and request family joining. Fill out a family joining form at the Refugee Reception Office and submit your supporting documents, along with the form, to the RSDO Manager and request family joining.
Step 4 In the meantime, the dependent of a recognised refugee is entitled to be issued with a section 22 permit. In the meantime, the dependent of an asylum seeker is entitled to be issued with a section 22 permit.
Step 5 The RRO then submits the documentation and family joining form to the RSDO Manager, who shall make a decision after a scheduled hearing. The RRO then submits the documentation and family joining form to the RSDO Manager, who shall make a decision after a scheduled hearing.
Step 6 The recognised refugee and dependents must attend a hearing where the RSDO will verify the dependents’ relationship to the recognised refugee. If in doubt, the RSDO may request DNA tests to be carried out. The refugee is not liable to pay for this, however. The asylum seeker and dependents must attend a hearing where the RSDO will verify the dependent’s relationship to the asylum seeker. If in doubt, the RSDO may request DNA tests to be carried out. The asylum seeker is not liable to pay for this, however.
Step 7 If satisfied, the RSDO will grant the dependent refugee status. If satisfied, the RSDO will grant the dependent asylum seeker status.
Step 8 You will receive the RSDO decision in writing and, where the application is refused, be given written reasons for the decision. You will receive the RSDO decision in writing and, where the application is refused, be given written reasons for the decision.
Step 9 If successful, the dependents will be joined recognised refugee’s file and be issued with a section 24 permit. If successful, the dependents will be joined to the asylum seeker’s file and be issued with a section 22 permit.