In March 2014, the Hong Kong Government introduced a new system for protection claims in Hong Kong, the Unified Screening Mechanism.
What is the Unified Screening Mechanism (USM)?
The USM is the new government system for processing protection claims in Hong Kong, started in March 2014. The USM brings refugee claims (referred to by the government as ‘persecution’ claims) together with torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CIDTP) claims under one process. These are now collectively known as ‘non-refoulement’ claims. The government did not choose to implement this new system – they were forced to do so by a ruling of the Court of Final Appeal last March 2013. In the USM, protection claimants appear before the Immigration Department. UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) no longer processes refugee claims in Hong Kong.
Who is a protection claimant?
A protection claimant is anyone going through the USM, including refugees and other people seeking protection from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CIDTP) or persecution.
How we can help
Justice Centre Hong Kong is an independent, non-governmental organisation – we do not receive funds from the Hong Kong Government. At our welcoming and comfortable centre in Sai Ying Pun, near Central, we provide FREE, independent high-quality legal information and assistance with protection claims to ALL people going through the Unified Screening Mechanism, in your own language, where possible. We run Group information Sessions and Drop-in hours for protection claimants on:
- USM1: How to apply – Information for all claimants about how to make a claim to Immigration for protection in Hong Kong under the Unified Screening Mechanism (USM).
- USM2: How to prepare – Information for all claimants about what to do and what to expect during the time after you have made a claim to Immigration.
- USM3: Appeals and Judicial Reviews (JRs) – What to do if your USM claim has been rejected by HK Immigration and/or the Torture Claims Appeal Board.
- Know Your Rights – Information for all claimants about your rights in Hong Kong, including your rights in relation to immigration, the police, food, housing, health care, education, employment, getting married and having a family.
- Immigration Options – Immigration options other than the USM, including dependent visas, voluntary repatriation, immigration to other countries, and leaving Hong Kong.
You can reserve a place at an information session by calling 3109 7359 between 9:30am and 6:00pm daily.
Please note, our information sessions are for people seeking protection only.
The information session schedule for July can be downloaded here.
Food and drinks are provided. To help with transportation and other costs, we will give you HK$40 per adult and HK$20 per child aged 3-12. You will only receive money for the first time you attend each session topic (for example, you will only be paid once per person for ‘USM: How to apply’, once per person for ‘USM: How to prepare’ and once per person for the ‘Know Your Rights’ sessions). You can attend the same session topic more than once if you wish, but you will not be able to receive the allowance after your first attendance for that topic. For more information on this policy, please click here.
Interpretation is available, where possible. At the USM group information sessions, we explain to you how you may be able to obtain one-to-one assistance with your USM claim. You must attend a group information session first.
We provide individualised support and assistance to the most vulnerable people proceeding through the new system to ensure their needs are met. You will be able to access individual assistance if:
- You are vulnerable and may have difficulty telling your story (for example because of your age, gender, sexual orientation, family status, past trauma, protection concerns, or illiteracy); or
- You have a legally complex case (for example if you fear harm by non-state actors)
To know whether you will be able to get individual assistance, you must attend a Group Information Session first.