Section 4: Refugee / non-refoulement / USM claims

Hong Kong does not legally recognize refugees, but refugees can apply for a status called non-refoulement. Having non-refoulement status prevents the person from being deported while they face the risk of serious harm or death upon being returned, thus allowing them to stay in Hong Kong temporarily.

The process to apply for non-refoulement in Hong Kong is called the Unified Screening Mechanism. The initial application stage is managed by the Immigration Department. If the applicant receives a rejection, they can appeal to the Torture Claims Appeal Board (TCAB). If the applicant then receives a rejection at the TCAB stage, they might have the option to bring their case to judicial review. If their case is approved in judicial review, it would be required to be reviewed again by the TCAB.

If you intend to use the data, please read the notes for accuracy.

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How many non-refoulement claims are filed and determined every year?

“Claims made” are claims filed by non-refoulement applicants. “Claims determined” are claims where a decision was made on the claim (ie. approved / rejected). “Outstanding claims” refers to claims that are still being processed through the system.

Who is currently in the process of their USM claim?

Click on the arrows to see demographics of USM claimants (at Sept 2021) with outstanding (ie. pending) claims. Demographics include nationality, age, sex, and immigration status.

What are the nationalities of the substantiated claimants in the USM?

A substantiated non-refoulement claim is one that has been approved, which allows the claimant to remain in the territory.

An increasingly large proportion of USM claims are substantiated on appeal.

This suggests a high rejection rate of USM claims at the initial application stage to the government.

80% of applications to work by USM claimants have been approved.

Non-refoulement claimants whose claims have been approved are not automatically granted the right to work. In order to work, one would need to apply separately to the Immigration Department. The request for approval to work is not considered through a formal system but on a “case-by-case” and “exceptional basis“.

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Vocabulary List

Commonly Used Abbreviations

CIC – Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre

CIU – Complaints Investigation Unit (of the Correctional Services Department)

CSD – Correctional Services Department

HKPF – Hong Kong Police Force

ImmD – Immigration Department

MTKDC – Ma Tau Kok Detention Centre

NKCI – Nei Kwu Correctional Institution

TTG / TTGCI – Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution

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