What is the Unified Screening Mechanism (USM)?
In March 2014, the Hong Kong Government introduced a new system for protection claims in Hong Kong, the Unified Screening Mechanism (‘USM’). The government did not choose to implement this new system – they were made to do so by a ruling of the Court of Final Appeal in March 2013.
The USM is the new government system for processing protection claims in Hong Kong, bringing together the handling of all protection claims under one process.
Such claims will include those made on the basis of being a refugee (referred to by the government as ‘persecution’ claims) along with other protection claims – such as those made on the basis of a risk of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CIDTP). These are now collectively known as ‘non-refoulement’ claims.
In the USM, protection claimants appear before the Immigration Department who determine their claims. 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.
For more information on the USM, please visit:
- Website of the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department; and/or.
- Website of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Hong Kong Sub-office.
I want to know how you can help me
We are Justice Centre Hong Kong. We are an independent, non-governmental organisation.
Since 2007, our experienced staff have provided life-changing services to refugee men, women and children, survivors of torture, human trafficking, forced labour, and other human rights abuses.
We provide direct legal and psychosocial assistance for ALL people claiming asylum in Hong Kong under the Unified Screening Mechanism (USM), in your own language, where possible.
You do not have to have used our services before.
We can offer information about:
- How to make a claim for protection/asylum in Hong Kong under the Unified Screening Mechanism (USM).
- How to prepare your case; what to do and what to expect during/after you have made your asylum claim.
- What to do if your asylum claim has been rejected by HK Immigration and/or the Torture Claims Appeal Board/Non-refoulement Claims Petition Office.
- 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 other than the USM, including dependent visas, voluntary repatriation, immigration to other countries, and leaving Hong Kong.
If you have comments or suggestions about our services, you can discuss them with our staff. If you would like to make a formal complaint, you can e-mail Legal Services Coordinator Pritika at [email protected].