Refugee Status Determination

The Kenyan Government’s Department of Refugee Services (DRS) is fully responsible for conducting RSD, including reception, registration, and issuance of documentation.

The RSD process begins when an asylum-seeker registers their application for asylum with DRS at their offices in Dadaab, Kakuma, Nairobi, Eldoret, Nakuru, and Mombasa. All asylum-seekers, except persons from South Sudan, then have an individual interview which is the basis for a decision on the application. This decision can either be a recognition of refugee status or rejection of the asylum application. Applicants whose applications are rejected can appeal to the Refugee Status Appeals Committee (RSAC), and if required to the High Court.

RSD is conducted on a first-come-first-served basis; however, some cases may have to be prioritized due to specific vulnerabilities. The complexity of an RSD application and the information required, has an influence on the timeframe between an interview and a decision. After an asylum seeker has had an RSD interview, DRS staff will draft a recommendation, which will then go through a quality review and after which the Commissioner for Refugee Affairs takes a decision and prepares a decision letter.

As of January 2024, there are more than 168,000 asylum-seekers in Kenya whose refugee status has not yet been determined. Steps are being taken to address these delays with priority being given to individuals that applied for asylum earlier.

UNHCR provides ongoing technical and financial support to national authorities on the RSD process.


How can I make an appointment to meet with UNHCR or DRS?

Refugees and asylum-seekers can access protection information and available services via UNHCR’s Help page, by email at [email protected], or by phone on 1517 (toll-free and multi-language).

Individuals awaiting determination of refugee status are requested to keep DRS and UNHCR informed of any changes in their contact details.

Do refugees have to pay for registration, documentation, RSD or other services?

All services provided by UNHCR, government and non-governmental organizations working with refugees in Kenya are FREE OF CHARGE.

People may tell you that you should pay to add a new baby or schedule appointments; this is not correct as these services are free of charge. Refugees must not pay anyone for any services, and people asking for money are engaging in fraud and corruption. Refugees should be aware of scams offering resettlement or other services for a fee – these are NOT official programmes and will not provide you with the services you are seeking.

If you would like information on fraud or would like to report it, please visit this page.