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4.10 Resettlement country decision

Recording resettlement decisions and informing refugees

As soon as a UNHCR office receives a decision on a submission, it is recorded in proGres and all members of the Resettlement Case are duly informed. In the case of submissions through Headquarters, the RCPS will notify the field/country office, which then promptly notifies the concerned refugees, unless this is done directly by a local embassy or partner.


In the case of an acceptance decision, the Resettlement Case is updated in proGres, which moves the Resettlement Case status and Case member status to Pending Departure Arrangements. See 4.11 Pre-Departure arrangements.


UNHCR encourages States to issue a formal decision on each resettlement submission and to provide reasons, rather than refuse to consider a case or return a submission to UNHCR without a decision. In the interests of fairness and transparency, UNHCR should not withdraw a resettlement submission before the issuance of a decision unless the submission was made in error or based on the explicit request by the Resettlement Case member/s, or exceptional circumstances merit otherwise.

UNHCR considers a Resettlement Case to be denied following:

  • A State’s formal decision to deny a UNHCR resettlement submission after fully considering the case according to its policy and/or legal requirements for eligibility and resettlement admissibility 
  • A State’s refusal or inability to consider a case submitted by UNHCR within the established parameters of their resettlement program.

A case is not considered denied if a State defers a decision and requests additional information on a Resettlement Case, or if a State suspends its processing of a Resettlement Case pending receipt of additional information from UNHCR or another source.

Split decisions

 A “split decision” occurs when one or more members of the Resettlement Case is accepted for resettlement by a given State while other member/s is/are denied.

Every effort should be made to keep dependent family members together and to advocate with the resettlement State for a durable solution in the manner least harmful to the family, both collectively and individually. However, if the resettlement State has accepted only part of the family and will not reconsider the split decision, refugees should be counselled and fully informed about the available options, as well as the limitations, risks, and possible consequences. The options include:

  • Reconsideration for the denied Case members, where possible.
  • Withdrawal of the entire Resettlement Case and resubmission to a second resettlement State. However, there is no guarantee that the subsequent resettlement State will accept all – or even any – family members. It also prolongs the achievement of a durable solution for refugees in need of resettlement.
  • Acceptance of split decision: during resettlement counselling, the concerned refugees may accept the split decision and agree for some but not all Resettlement Case members to depart for resettlement. Those who were denied should be counselled on whether or not there are viable opportunities for (i) family reunification through the resettlement country’s national procedures or (ii) resubmission (see below) by UNHCR to another resettlement State.

Denial review

When the Denial decision is updated in proGres, the Resettlement Case / case member Status moves to Pending Denial Review. Denial review is a mandatory step in the post-submission process flow in proGres and is completed by a Reviewing Officer. The review results in a recommendation to resubmit or not to resubmit the Resettlement Case members to another resettlement country. For many cases, a dossier review is sufficient; however, an interview may be required to reconfirm the circumstances of the case.

Assessing the grounds for denial      

Denials should be examined to establish if the decision is prejudicial or non-prejudicial. In the case of a prejudicial decision, the Reviewing Officer may consider that the Case/ member(s) are not suitable for resubmission, and/or may require a complementary interview/ in-depth assessment to determine whether resubmission is appropriate (for example, see Inadmissibility). Where a Case is denied and no reasons are provided, UNHCR should seek a more detailed explanation (preferably in writing) from the resettlement State. This information is a key element in evaluating whether to resubmit a case and the extent of case review required.

Non-prejudicial decision/No reason given

A State’s denial is considered non-prejudicial if:

  • No reason or justification is provided, or
  • The denial is due to reasons specific to particular immigration laws of a resettlement State, which are not relevant to UNHCR’s resettlement considerations. For example, a State may deny resettlement based on restrictive domestic legislation such as “integration potential”, or national asylum policies which differ from respective UNHCR protection considerations and eligibility guidelines, or practical constraints related to treatment for specific medical needs, family size or other issue.

Prejudicial decision

A State’s denial is considered prejudicial if:

  • The reasons for denial call into question UNHCR’s determination of resettlement need and/or eligibility for international protection, such as inter alia concerns relating to credibility, the RSD assessment or eligibility for refugee status, or the family composition, and/or
  • The reasons for denial relate to security concerns by the resettlement State. Where appropriate, further questions about denials based on national security considerations can be referred to the relevant regional bureau and/or RCPS for follow up and clarification with the resettlement State.

A Denial Review may determine that:

  • Resubmission is not appropriate and/or viable. This determination must be fully documented in proGres when completing the Denial Review. It is also important that all denied Resettlement Cases that are closed have a recommendation regarding future resettlement consideration. Resettlement Case members must be counselled as to the status of their case and clearly advised if UNHCR will not resubmit their case to other resettlement countries.
  • Resubmission is appropriate and the case still presents resettlement needs. This decision is entered in proGres by updating the Denial Review.
  • The Resettlement Case member/s should be referred for a complementary interview because there are indications that the family composition, personal circumstances, or need for resettlement have changed, and/or the case was rejected for prejudicial reasons, requiring internal review of eligibility for refugee status and resettlement. The Resettlement Case is then placed on hold in proGres (Pending Denial Review) and referred for complementary interview to review all aspects of the case, including family composition, the circumstances of the case, eligibility for refugee status and need for resettlement. In case of concerns relating to eligibility for refugee status and/or exclusion, the case should be referred to the RSD/protection colleagues for an in-depth review. If the case received a prejudicial denial, UNHCR must assess the concerns raised and ensure they are fully addressed, where possible, and carefully balanced against the protection needs of the case. Relevant additional information, clarification, or documentation provided should be included in a revised RRF.


Some resettlement States entitle refugees to request a formal reconsideration of the denial of their case. If an Applicant wishes to pursue such a request, the case is reviewed and evaluated to determine if a reconsideration request is appropriate. Reconsideration may be appropriate, for example, where the factors that led to the State’s decision to deny are subsequently addressed or no longer exist. The Resettlement Case may then be updated in proGres and the case becomes Pending Resettlement Country Reconsideration.


Resubmission refers to the submission of a Resettlement Case to another resettlement State (as members of a new Resettlement Case in proGres) after the submission has been denied or withdrawn. If a case has been denied by a resettlement State, a Denial Review is conducted (see above) to determine whether resubmission is appropriate and the case still presents resettlement needs. If UNHCR withdraws a submission with the intention to resubmit the case members to another State, the new Resettlement Case created in proGres should be reviewed to ensure that the resubmission is updated, accurate and complete.

Before the case is resubmitted, the following actions should be undertaken:

  • The RRF should be amended to reflect and/or clarify all additional information and documentation.
  • The Declaration page should be re-signed if it is more than six months old.
  • The submission priority should be re-evaluated to reflect developments in resettlement needs of the case.

When it is decided that a Resettlement Case should be resubmitted to a different (second) resettlement country, a new Resettlement Case must be created in proGres. Resubmissions follow established procedures for submission in SOPs, and refugee(s) must be informed that their case has been resubmitted.

Sharing submission history with States

UNHCR must provide information on previous submissions, withdrawals and denials when resubmitting cases to a different resettlement State.

Responses to delays in processing

Delays in the processing of cases by UNHCR and resettlement countries can have serious protection implications for refugees. As described in 4.2 Resettlement processing and submission priority levels, expected timeframes for submission and departure are as folllows:

  • Emergency priority cases should be processed within seven days, with departures organized as quickly as possible.
  • Urgent priority cases should be processed within six weeks, with departures organized within two to three months.
  • Normal priority cases should be processed and departed within 12 months.

UNHCR uses these benchmarks to ensure that the timing of resettlement is appropriate and responsive to the protection needs of the refugee. Where a resettlement State does not meet this timeframe, UNHCR should contact the State for an explanation and an indication as to when a decision and departure are likely, in order to inform UNHCR how to proceed with a case. Several options exist, if necessary and appropriate given the circumstances of an individual case:

  • The case may be withdrawn and resubmitted to another resettlement country.
  • The case may be submitted in a parallel submission to multiple resettlement countries. This is normally undertaken for emergency cases, in consultation with the RCPS which will seek the agreement of the concerned States.
  • The case may be evacuated to an Emergency Transit Facility (ETF). In some cases, this will require provisional acceptance by the resettlement State and its agreement to undertake further resettlement processing in the ETF or through remote processing.
  • The submission priority may be upgraded, where appropriate, to reflect the increased protection risks and the need for a decision.

Counselling and informing refugees throughout the process

As part of UNHCR’s accountability to affected people, Resettlement Case members must be informed of any significant developments affecting their case, including Submission and submission country, resettlement country decision (acceptance, denial, split decision), Withdrawal, Reconsideration and Resubmission. In the case of denial, reasons provided by the resettlement country should be communicated to the concerned refugees during resettlement counselling, together with advice on possible next steps. If a decision letter is addressed to an individual refugee, the refugee should be given the original, with a copy kept on file with UNHCR noting the date the letter was provided to the refugee. Copies of emails, lists, or letters that are addressed to UNHCR should not be given to refugees, and rather stored securely in the individual’s file.

Counselling history should be recorded in proGres to inform future counselling and ensure it is relevant and specific to the individual’s situation. Refer to UNHCR’s Technical Guidance: Child Friendly Procedures for guidance on counselling children and youth in an age-appropriate manner.