Q&A on ‘New entry & renewal procedures for Syrians in Lebanon’

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08.01.2016

ENTRY TO LEBANON:

1. What does the new entry policy require?

As of 5 January 2015, a new entry policy is in place. If you are a Syrian national wishing to enter Lebanon you must inform the border authorities of the reason for your entry and provide relevant supporting documentation including a valid national identity card, and/or passport, and a family booklet if you are travelling with your family.

The new procedure allows Syrian nationals to enter Lebanon under different categories:

1- Tourism: Written confirmation of hotel reservation and amount of money proportional with the duration of stay in Lebanon. Entry given for the duration of reservation and can be renewed for maximum of 1 month.

2- Work visit: Only granted to professionals, business or religious persons for business visits not exceeding 1 month. Confirmation by a Lebanese company is required.

3- Property owner: If you own property in Lebanon you will receive a 6 months residency permit renewable for 6 months. Under this category, family members can visit you for a 2 weeks max.

4- Tenant: If you have a lease agreement registered with the Municipality and GSO and proof of livelihood (ie. bank account) you will get a 6 month residency permit renewable for the duration of your lease. Validity of the registration of the lease agreement with GSO is of 3 months. Some family members can visit you for 2 weeks max.

5- Student: You need to provide proof of acceptance by a Lebanese university, and a valid student card and previous certificates. You will be granted a 7 days entry permit to finalize your student residency permit

6- Shopping: entry for only 24 hours.

7- Travelling to another country: In case of transit through Lebanon, you must present: valid passport, visa to a third country and a non-refundable airplane/boat ticket. You will be granted respectively 48 hours or 24 hours transit permit depending if you travel by air or sea.

8- Medical visits: For entry for medical treatment you need to present medical reports from a hospital or doctor in Lebanon. You will receive a 72 hours entry renewable for additional 72 hours. One family member can accompany you.

9- Appointment with a foreign embassy: 48 hours entry permit renewable upon presentation of proof of an appointment.

10- Displaced: Under exceptional circumstances to be finalized by the Ministry of Social Affairs. It is unclear how Syrian refugees will be assessed under this category.

LEBANESE SPONSOR

2. Can I enter Lebanon if I don’t fall within any of these categories?

Only if a Lebanese national sponsors your entry and stay.

3. What are the requirements for a Lebanese sponsor?

Your sponsor will be requested to undertake specific obligations depending on the purpose of entry:

  • Entry for visit: Pledge of responsibility at the GSO by Lebanese sponsor. No fees are required for the 7 days visit permit renewable for 7 days for you and your family members. Any registered company or organization in Lebanon can sponsor you for a visit and you will get a residency permit of max 1 month.
  • Entry for work: Pledge of responsibility at GSO and 200 USD/person above 15 years old fee for a 6 months residency permit for you and family. Your sponsor will apply for a work permit from Ministry of Labor.
  • Entry not for work: Pledge of responsibility at GSO and 200 USD fee per person above 15 years old for a 6 months residency permit renewable for another 6 months free of charge for you and your family.

4. Can a Lebanese national sponsor more than one Syrian family?

No, a Lebanese (including his family members) can only sponsor one Syrian national and his/her family unless the Lebanese sponsor is a business company as he/she can sponsor more than one Syrian and family. GSO will conduct an investigation to verify the need of the sponsor of Syrian workers.

5. Is there a specific form for the pledge of responsibility? And where can I obtain it?

There is a specific form for each sponsorship type at GSO.

6. I am registered with UNHCR, do I need to fall under one of the entry categories, upon re-entry to Lebanon?

Yes. Registration with UNHCR will not guarantee you entry into Lebanon. You will need to satisfy the criteria of one of the above mentioned categories.

7. If I entered under one of the categories above, can I still register with UNHCR?

For the time being, you cannot register with UNHCR. As of 5 May 2015, registration for Syrians has been temporarily suspended until further notice. This follows instructions UNHCR has received from the Government of Lebanon.

At this point, UNHCR reception centre staff will only be collecting some basic information from you such as your name, names of your family members, dates of birth and your current situation in Lebanon, including any vulnerability.

8. Will these criteria be applied at all border crossings, or only at the land border crossings?

The entry criteria are applicable at all border crossings including land, port, and airport.

RENEWAL PROCEDURES

9. I entered Lebanon through an official border crossing before 5 January; can I renew my residency permit?

Yes, you are able to renew your residency permit. However, the procedure differs between those already registered with UNHCR and those who are not.

A/You are registered with UNHCR, before 5 January:

You can renew your residency permit without having to secure a Lebanese sponsor. You will be issued a 6 months temporary residency permit renewable for another 6 months. You will be required to pay a fee of 200 USD per person above 15 years.

Requested documents:

  • Housing commitment signed by the landowner or tenant where you reside and certified by local Mukhtar (if you live in an informal settlement you are exempt from presenting this document, you should present a certificate of residence from the local Mukhtar instead). Certification issued by a Mukhtar will cost between LBP 10.000-20.000. Template for this commitment can be obtained at the GSO
  • Title deed or lease agreement stamped by a Mukhtar OR an attestation from a Mukhtar or Municipality certifying that the landowner or tenant is the signatory to the housing commitment (if you live in an informal settlement you are exempted from presenting this document);
  • Copy of ID document of the landowner or tenant;
  • UNHCR registration certificate with validity between 3- 6 months;
  • Pledge not to work signed at the public notary; you can obtain the form for the pledge at the public notary and it will cost around LBP 40,000 ;
  • Your ID or passport (no personal extract);
  • Exit and entry cards;
  • 3 photos and 3 copies of the above documents.

Can my family members also renew their residency permit?

Yes, your family members can renew their residence based on your UNHCR registration certificate in addition to the required documents (ID, previous entry cards, etc.).

B/You are not registered with UNHCR:

You can renew your residence if you secure a Lebanese sponsor and pay the annual renewal fees of 200 USD per person above 15 years.

Requested documents:

  • Personal pledge of responsibility signed by your Lebanese sponsor; GSO might request the pledge to be signed at the public notary. If this is this case it will cost around LBP 40,000.
  • Original of a family civil extract of your Lebanese sponsor;
  • Housing commitment signed by the landowner or tenant where you reside authorised by a local Mukhtar (it costs between LBP 10,000 – 20,000); the template for this commitment can be obtained at the GSO.
  • Copy of ID of the landowner or tenant signed and stamped by the Mukhtar;
  • Copy of the title deed or lease agreement signed and stamped by the Mukhtar OR attestation from Mukhtar or Municipality certifying that the landowner or tenant is the signatory of the housing commitment;
  • Your ID or passport;
  • Exit and entry cards;
  • 3 photos and 3 copies for the above documents;
  • If the pledge of responsibility is not for work purpose, you may also be asked to present a pledge not to work signed at the notary public (it costs around LBP 40,000).

Please note that your Lebanese sponsor should accompany you to the regional GSO in order to renewal your residency. You will be issued a 6 months temporary residency permit.

Can my family members also renew their residency permit?

Your family members can renew their residency permit based on your residence permit. The residence will have the same validity as your permit.

The family member should apply for renewal, pay the necessary fees and present the following documents:

  • Original copy of the residency permit of the head of family (father or son).
  • Pledge of family responsibility signed at the public notary by your Lebanese sponsor.
  • Housing commitment signed by the landowner where your family resides.

10. I heard that in some ‘pledge not to work’ forms available with some notary publics there is an additional sentence mentioning that I have to leave Lebanon after the residency expires, what shall I do?

UNHCR advises you to ask the notary public to delete this additional sentence to leave the country from the pledge not to work as it is not a requirement by GSO. If you face any difficulties at the GSO, contact a legal service provider who can accompany you and support you with the renewal procedures.

11. I have been asked by GSO to de-register or close my file with UNHCR and present a Lebanese sponsor, what should I do?

For advice tailored to your situation, including the availability of a sponsor and his willingness to sign the pledge of responsibility, approach UNHCR.

12. If I want to work, shall I ask UNHCR to de-register me?

Being registered with UNHCR allow UNHCR and partner organizations to know you and your family and to be able to reach and support you. With the registration certificate (UN Paper) you and your family will be able to access various services and assistance provided in Lebanon. Additionally, in case you face any problems, you can contact UNHCR and/or partner organizations. They will provide advice and may find a solution for you.

UNHCR is advocating with the Government of Lebanon to change the wording of the pledge not to work. In the meantime, refugees registered with UNHCR are requested to sign a pledge not to work.

13. If I have a valid work permit, shall I ask UNHCR to de-register me?

For advice pertaining to your particular situation, i.e. the validity of your work permit and the willingness of your employer to sign the pledge of responsibility, approach a legal partner to accompany you and support you with the renewal process.

14. I am occasionally working; shall I sign the pledge not to work?

It is unclear at this stage what will happen if you are found violating the pledge not to work. UNHCR and partners are urging the Lebanese Government to remove this declaration in favour of a declaration to abide by Lebanese labour law. In the meantime, for advice pertaining to your situation and your employer’s, please approach a legal partner to accompany you and support you with the renewal process.

15. Will Syrian refugees be sent back by the Government of Lebanon, following the new regulations?

The Lebanese Government expressed its commitment not to force refugees back to Syria. It has respected that commitment until now and continues to repeat it.

For the following questions:

16. I am requested documents different or in addition to what is mentioned above, what should I do?

17. I am hosted by a Lebanese family and I am not paying the rent; how should I present a lease agreement to GSO?

18. The landowner does not want to give me his ID to bring to the Municipality to prove ownership of the property or as an annex to the housing commitment, what shall I do?

19. More than one family live in the same shelter/house, can we provide same agreement from landowner to the GSO?

UNHCR and partners are urging the Government to accept only the housing commitment stamped by the Mukhtar and no additional documents. Please contact a legal service provider who can provide you with more information pertaining to your situation and accompany to the different authorities and help you through the process of renewal.


20. Can UNHCR or any humanitarian organization help me to pay the fees for the public notary or any other fees related to the renewal of the residency?

UNHCR is unable to and does not know any organisation providing that assistance.

21. Should my wife also sign the pledge not to work at the notary public?

No, spouses have not been requested to sign the pledge not to work

22. I was told that if I have a work permit I will be requested to leave Lebanon every 6 months and come back through the ‘work visit’ category or alternatively pay 200 USD, is that true?

UNHCR cannot confirm this information at this stage.

REGISTRATION WITH UNHCR

23. Can I register with UNHCR if I entered Lebanon after 5 January?

For the time being, you cannot register with UNHCR. As of 5 May 2015, registration for Syrians has been temporarily suspended until further notice. This follows instructions UNHCR has received from the Government of Lebanon.

At this point, UNHCR reception centre staff will only be collecting some basic information from you such as your name, names of your family members, dates of birth and your current situation in Lebanon, including any vulnerability.

24. Can UNHCR renew my certificate even if it’s not yet expired, because GSO is asking 6 month validity?

Not yet, UNHCR is considering expanding the UNHCR registration certificate to 18 months.

25. I have children below 18 who have expired or about to expire civil extracts. I can’t obtain new ones from Syria; how can I regularize my children?

Unfortunately you are not able to regularize the situation of your children in Lebanon.

26. What options do I have if I overstay my residency permit?

  • If registered with UNHCR, you can regularize following the same procedure for the renewal. You will be probably asked to pay USD 200 per year of overstay.
  • If you entered through an official border crossing before 5 January but overstayed your residency permit and are not registered with UNHCR you will be issued 15 days’ notice to have a Lebanese sponsor. You will be required to pay all overdue fees and granted a 6 months temporary residency.
  • If you have entered through an official border after 5 January and have overstayed your residency permit, you will be allowed to leave Lebanon after you pay the overdue fees and you will be issued a 1 year re-entry ban.
  • If you entered through an unofficial border:
  • You will be issued 5 days’ notice to exit Lebanon and will you will be required to pay a fine 633 USD.
  • If you are unable to pay the due fines you will be issued a permanent entry ban upon departure.

27. Should I regularize also my daughters or only male children?

Both, of course!

For any specific question, please refer the Syrian refugee to UNHCR or any organization providing legal counselling to refugees in Lebanon, listed below:

Caritas Lebanon Migrants Centre (CLMC)

Beirut – Mount Lebanon

- Sin El Fil (legal counseling) Charles Helou Blvd -Takla Centre - P.O. Box 40061 Tel. 01-502550/551 Hotline: 03-310471

- Leilaki St. facing the Lebanese University- Al Rawda Nursery- 1 st floor Tel. 01-466470 Hotline: 70-157789

- Bourj Hammoud Community Centre Tel. 01-254103

- Dekwaneh Next to Charcutier Aoun Tel. 01-681942

- Rmeileh Community Centre Tel. 70-251290 / 01-990496

South

Ghazieh, Saida facing Hassanein Company Tel.: 07-739607

North

Koura Community Centre Tel. 06-415086

Tripoli: Tel. 06-412995/ 70-174934

Bekaa

Baalbeck: Hotline70-828849

Taalabeya: Hotline: 03-537371

Fekha: Hotline: 79-115334/ 08-805123

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Beirut, Mt Lebanon LB-Mtlebanoninfo@Rescue.org Beirut: Tel. 76-020061

Tyre, South LB-SouthInformation@Rescue.org Tel. 76-888620

International Relief & Development (IRD)

Tripoli Tel. 06-411300/304/305 Ext:131

Halba Tel. 76-591029

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)

Beirut and Mount Lebanon

Tel. 76-666950 76-777236

Northern Bekaa

Aarsal :Tel. 76-171402

Baalbeck: Tel. 76-897789

North Bekaa Tel. 76-000613

Central Bekaa

Saadnayel :Tel. 78-801201

Central Bekaa: 76-000614

West Bekaa

West Bekaa: Tel 76-898121

North

Wadi Khaled (Akkar): Tel. 78-801313

El Minieh: Tel. 76-700525

South

Sour: Tel. 70-951978

Nabatieh: Tel.70-888265

Bent Jbeil: Tel. 78-885883

UNHCR

Beirut and Mt Lebanon

UNHCR Protection hotline 71910349 (Mon-Fri 8:00-16:00)

Bekaa

Zahle UNHCR Zahle Protection hotline Tel. 76-611811 (Mon-Fri 8:00-18:00)

North Lebanon/ Akkar

Tripoli UNHCR Tripoli, next to Rachid Karame Exhibition Centre UNHCR Akkar Protection Hotline: Tel. 76-421605 (Tuesday and Friday 12:30-15:30)

South Lebanon

UNHCR South Lebanon Information hotline: 76500370 (Mon-Fri 8:30-16:00)