Jordan extends validity of refugee and asylum seeker certificates

A UNHCR staff member helps a refugee who has approached UNHCR Registration Centre in Amman to renew their asylum seeker certificate.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the recent decision by the Government of Jordan to consider Asylum Seeker and Refugee Certificates issued by UNHCR to refugees in Jordan, valid until June 30th, 2021, regardless of the date of expiry. 

This decision comes into effect amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has limited UNHCR’s ability to renew refugee and asylum seeker certificates. Prior to the coronavirus crisis, every month 50,000 persons of concern approached UNHCR’s registration centers to renew their Asylum Seeker Certificateswhich is an annual requirement for refugees in JordanIn order to limit large gatherings and prevent the spread of the virus, however, in person renewals ceased in March 2020.  

Since March 2020, UNHCR has subsequently commenced remote registration renewal for refugees to update their data and has delivered over 70,000 updated refugee and asylum seeker certificates through this process in line with COVID-19 safety precautionsDespite this, by the end of 2020 it was anticipated that 400,000 persons of concern would be in possession of expired documentation.  

Refugees in Jordan rely on their refugee and asylum seeker certificates to access national systems and services, including sending their children to school and getting medical treatment. Additionally, it adds an important security element in terms of freedom of movement, since most refugees and asylum seekers use their certificates as their main form of documentation.  

The recent announcement by the Government of Jordan, therefore, was highly needed to allow refugees to continue their everyday lives in dignity, secure in the knowledge that they have the correct documentation to remain in Jordan.  

“The Government of Jordan has consistently led the way when it comes to including refugees within national systems and this latest development illustrates the exemplary welcoming attitude of Jordanians even in a crisis situation. UNHCR stands ready to continue to support the Government of Jordan in innovating its refugee response, including by expanding fraud-proof and cost-effective virtual registration modalities” said Dominik Bartsch, UNHCR Representative in Jordan.  

Over 750,000 refugees are registered with UNHCR in Jordan including 90,000 refugees from non-Syrian nationalities. Living in towns and cities across the Kingdom, life has got progressively harder for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

With increasing levels of poverty, UNHCR has seen more refugees than ever contact its helplines asking for support since the coronavirus crisis began. Approximately 70,000 calls in November alone were from refugees asking about their registration renewals. This latest announcement, therefore, will bring some peace of mind to vulnerable families who are struggling to meet their basic needs 

In advance of this announcement, UNHCR had recently showcased its innovative and COVID-19 sensitive registration process to the Ministry of Interior and continues its cooperation with the Government in the domain of registration and documentation of refugees across the Kingdom.