Refugee status is granted when the applicant is believed to be in need of protection. A refugee is a person who cannot return to their country of origin because their life would be at risk, either due to persecution or due to conflict. The exact definition of a refugee, in terms of South Africa law, is set out at Section 3 of the Refugees Act.
An asylum seeker in South Africa is required to lodge their application for asylum in person at an RRO. The asylum seeker is required to fill in a prescribed form and undergo an individual refugee status determination interview to examine the merits of their claim. If the individual is rejected at this level, they may then either request an appeal hearing or to submit written reasons as to why they require international protection. Throughout this process, the individual is to receive documentation to legalise their stay in South Africa in the form of a temporary asylum seeker permit. During the adjudication process, the asylum seeker must continually renew his or her documentation every one to six months by visiting an RRO. While the process is envisioned to be finished within six months, it regularly takes many years, as long as a decade or more. This requires an asylum seeker to make numerous visits to RROs before receiving a final status determination on their application.