Answer to a question from a reader

My asylum seeker permit expired and now I don't qualify for UIF. What can I do?

The short answer

Your permit is still considered valid if it expired on or after 15 March.

The whole question

I'm an asylum seeker and my permit expired. I was also retrenched from my work. I went to the Labour Department to apply for UIF, but they did not want to help me because my permit is expired. What can I do?

The long answer

Home Affairs announced in June that all asylum seeker permits or refugee status documents which had expired from 15 March 2020 onwards, would be considered extended until 31 July 2020.

Following that, on 22 July Home Affairs announced that all permits and visas in South Africa would be extended to 31 October 2020. This still has to be officially published as an amended regulation in the Government Gazette, but it became law from the time it was announced by the Minister of Home Affairs on 22 July. 

So provided that your asylum seeker’s permit expired on or after 15 March, your permit is considered valid until 31 October. That means that UIF cannot to refuse to pay your benefits on the grounds of an expired permit. 

During lockdown, you can apply for UIF benefits through the UIF online filing system. UIF benefits can be claimed within 12 months of being retrenched and it takes about three weeks to get the first payment after you apply.  You need the following documents:

  1. valid form of identification, such as: a 13-Digit ID (Citizens or Permanent Residents); a valid passport/permit; a Refugee Certificate or Refugee ID issued in terms of the Refugees Act or an Asylum Seeker Permit or Visa issued in terms of the Refugees Act;

  2. Form UI-2.8 for banking details;

  3. Copies of your last six payslips;

  4. The relevant UI application form for the type of claim (inquire at Labour Centre for relevant form)


If UIF still refuses to accept that your permit is extended until 31 October 2020, you could contact their Client Service Centre (toll-free) at 0800 843 843.

There have been two important court cases (in 2017 and 2019) in which the court has ruled that if asylum seekers have had UIF payments deducted from their salaries, they must be paid their benefits. In the 2019 case, the court ordered the UIF to change their computer systems to make it possible to pay asylum seekers who do not have 13-digit IDs.

If you need assistance in dealing with the UIF, you could contact one of the following organisations:   

Answered on July 30, 2020, 10:30 a.m.

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