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4.7 Submission

Submission recommendation and review

Upon completion of the RRF and finalization of the Resettlement Case for review, the caseworker enters the recommendation details into the Submission Recommendation section of the Resettlement Case form. The Reviewing Officer reviews the completed RRF and the submission recommendation as entered by the caseworker in proGres. They may proceed in one of three ways:

  • Not Recommended for Submission: The Reviewing Officer decides not to submit the case. All Resettlement Case members are then scheduled for counselling as soon as possible, and the decision is explained to all Resettlement Case members and recorded in proGres. See Technical Guidance on Child Friendly Procedures for informing and counselling children in accordance with their age and level of maturity.
  • The Reviewing Officer makes certain changes to the RRF then Recommends for submission. Changes can include grammatical and spelling modifications and other minor corrections, as necessary. If the Reviewing Officer recommends significant revisions to the RRF, the Resettlement Case may be returned to the caseworker for follow-up. A new Declaration page may need to be signed if changes are substantial.
  • Recommended for Submission: The Reviewing Officer decides to submit the case where the following requirements are met:
    1. All individuals in the Resettlement Case are recognized as refugees whether by UNHCR or by a host country, (or are eligible as stateless non-refugees, or non-refugee dependent family members).
    2. Other durable solutions have been given full consideration and resettlement is the most appropriate durable solution to address the protection needs of the Resettlement Case member/s.
    3. The Resettlement Case member/s have resettlement needs that correspond to (at least) two resettlement submission categories. See 3.2 The resettlement submission categories.

Other considerations that are not protection-driven, for example, educational level or other factors considered to enhance the prospects for integration cannot be determining factors when submitting cases for resettlement. At the same time, behaviour that is criminal, intimidating or otherwise threatening, aimed at exerting undue pressure on UNHCR, may result in a decision not to submit the case.

Holding a Resettlement Case

A decision to hold a Resettlement Case while a significant issue is resolved or action taken on a Case (e.g. Best Interests Procedures, medical assessment, fraud investigation, etc.) must be recorded in proGres. It is recommended to change the process status of the relevant Resettlement Case member/s in the Associated View to “Hold”, with the reason for the Hold entered using the drop-down menu options and any additional comments included in the Comments section.

Once the issue giving rise to the Hold has been resolved, the Hold is lifted. The Resettlement Case member’s process status should be changed back to Active before resettlement processing is either resumed, or else terminated by a recommendation not to proceed or a withdrawal/ removal from the Resettlement Case.

SOPs should provide safeguards relating to cases on Hold, including accountability in the relevant office and/or regional bureau for monitoring cases on Hold at least quarterly (once every three months) and ensuring timely follow-up to resolve the issues and lift the Hold.

Determining the country of submission

After determining that a particular case should be submitted for resettlement, the next step is to identify a suitable resettlement country, if this is not already determined. Key considerations include:

  • allocation of annual quotas of resettlement States;
  • selection criteria and admission priorities of resettlement countries;
  • resettlement submission priority, and the resettlement country’s average processing time and capacity for urgent processing (see below);
  • family links, particularly those in resettlement States;
  • nationality;
  • family size and configuration, and
  • the refugee’s expressed preference for a specific resettlement country.

The submission priority level of the Resettlement Case can impact the selection of the resettlement country, and the routing of the submission. Some resettlement countries maintain dedicated emergency sub-quotas and accelerated procedures to meet emergency/urgent needs, while others States may consider emergency/urgent resettlement submissions and respond rapidly as necessary. See 4.2 Resettlement processing and submission priority levels for criteria and timeframes.

Offices should consult the Country Chapters for information on a particular country’s resettlement programme. Resettlement States set their annual quota based on regular consultations with UNHCR on populations in need of resettlement, as well as based on their own policies, laws and regulations.  In addition, some States also provide an unallocated global quota or allocate sub-quotas for emergency or urgent cases, family reunification cases, or refugees with specific needs such as medical needs, or women at risk. The RCPS can advise on resettlement country quotas and submission procedures for offices to plan for submission targets and selection missions.

While most resettlement submissions are made to established resettlement countries, submissions can also be made to countries which do not have an established annual quota, but which accept Resettlement Cases on an ad hoc basis, including Cases with family links, or in the context of responding to appeals for certain refugee populations. Country offices are encouraged to consult the relevant regional bureau, and/ or RCPS, if necessary, if there are questions on the appropriate country of resettlement submission.

Family Unity

All efforts must be made to preserve and restore family unity during resettlement.

  • Dependent family members who are separated into different Resettlement Cases are submitted at the same time to one resettlement country.  
  • UNHCR should promote the resettlement of refugees to a country where they have relatives or other personal ties, whether this is an established resettlement State or not. See 3.8 Restoring family unity.

UNHCR offices should ensure that refugees are systematically counselled on the resettlement country to which their case has been submitted. This is important for UNHCR’s accountability to affected people and helps to manage resettlement expectations.

Submitting a Resettlement Case

Depending on the procedures agreed between UNHCR and resettlement States, Resettlement Cases are submitted directly by country operations or on their behalf by the relevant regional bureau or by RCPS.

Most resettlement countries require cases to be routed to the respective authorities in their capitals for centralized registration of UNHCR submissions. The relevant regional bureau and/or RCPS should be consulted for advice in this regard, if necessary, and reference should also be made to the resettlement Country Chapters, which outline each country’s procedures for routing submissions.

When resettlement submissions are made by email (especially if it is not possible for a resettlement State receiving the submission to process emails with encryption applied by UNHCR), the email must not contain the name or any other personal data of Resettlement Case members contained in file attachments (including the RRF and supporting documents). In particular, the subject line must never contain the names of individuals. Submission emails will generally require only the following information:

  • UNHCR Resettlement Case number (proGres)
  • Case size
  • Location/country operation where refugees are registered.

See 2.3 Data protection in resettlement at (vii) security and 2.5 File management and record keeping for guidance on secure file transfer, including email encryption.

See 2.3 Data protection in resettlement on the requirement for a data sharing agreement (DSA) for the transfer of personal data to a third party.

Dossier submissions

In most cases, resettlement States require an individual interview with the refugees under resettlement consideration. However, several resettlement States consider dossier submissions either for allocated quotas or unallocated global quotas, meaning a decision on eligibility and admissibility for resettlement is taken based on a file review of the Resettlement Case only, without an interview.

Emergency and urgent submissions

The Processing Unit at HQ/RCPS manages the unallocated global quotas for emergency and urgent cases in order to make the most effective use of the limited number of such places. Upon the identification of an emergency or urgent case, the field/country office is encouraged to consult with the relevant regional bureau or the Processing Unit at RCPS regarding possible submission routing. Colleagues should be prepared to discuss the nature of the emergency, the required time frame for departure, as well as third country links or other details that impact the selection of the country of submission.

Each office should designate a focal point to follow up on individual emergency and urgent cases, and to ensure that unnecessary delays are avoided. The focal point should maintain close communication with the IOM and resettlement country counterparts to facilitate departure after travel instructions have been received. If direct departure to the resettlement country is not possible within the required time frame, transfer to an Emergency Transit Facility may be considered (see 4.9 Emergency transit facilities).

Country offices and regional bureaux are encouraged to simultaneously examine submission options under allocated quotas, due to the limited number of places available under unallocated global quotas. See 4.2 Resettlement processing and submission priority levels for further guidance on criteria and timeframes.

Parallel submissions

As a general rule, submissions should only be made to one country at a time. However, owing to acute protection needs, UNHCR may exceptionally make “parallel” or “multiple” submissions, (two or more States considering the case at the same time). A parallel submission should only be undertaken for emergency cases after consultation and agreement with the RCPS. In exceptional circumstances, a parallel submission may be made with prior authorization from the RCPS, however, the relevant office or regional bureau should immediately advise all parties of a resettlement country decision.

Non-UNHCR resettlement submissions

Resettlement Cases should be created in proGres only for UNHCR resettlement processing – all other interventions or activities relating to third country solutions, as well as departures to a third country which do not result from a resettlement submission by UNHCR, should be recorded in the Registration and Assistance modules in proGres.

Onward movement of refugees already submitted for resettlement

If refugees in an already submitted Resettlement Case move onward to a different country, the UNHCR offices in the country where the Resettlement Case was submitted and the country of onward movement should coordinate to ensure resettlement processing continues even though the refugees have changed location. When onward movement has occurred and the refugees approach the new UNHCR Office, consider the following process steps:

In the UNHCR office that made the original resettlement submission:

  • Remove all Resettlement Case members (thereby closing the Resettlement Case) with the reason “Other Removal”. This is necessary to allow a Data Transfer Request (DTR) by the UNHCR office in the country of onward movement where the individuals will be subsequently registered.
  • The office may communicate to the resettlement country that the refugees are re-registered by UNHCR in the new country for continued resettlement processing. The communication should not mention a withdrawal of the UNHCR resettlement submission.

In the UNHCR office of the new location:

  • Initiate a cross-country Data Transfer Request for the relevant Registration Group and Individual/s, as well as any associated RSD cases. Data Transfer Requests for cross-country transfer of Resettlement Cases are not recommended because pre-submission process steps in the country of onward movement must be recorded in a new Resettlement Case.
  • Assign the refugees a new Registration Group/ Individual number and create a Resettlement Case for them. The case is prioritized for Interview, Submission Recommendation (i.e. continued processing by the resettlement country) and expedited Submission Review. Generally, the Needs Assessment and Initial Review in such cases are presumed to be “Recommended for Consideration”.
  • If the new Resettlement Case is “Recommended for Submission”, a new RRF should be submitted (depending on resettlement country requirements), noting in the new RRF the UNHCR case number from the original submission. Resettlement countries receiving eRRFs may have alternative requirements regarding digital resubmission.
  • If the new Resettlement Case is “Not recommended for Submission”, e.g. based on a BID recommendation, or if the concerned refugees no longer wish to be resettled, the country office or the relevant regional bureau notifies the resettlement country that a new Resettlement Case will not be submitted. Note that effectively withdrawing a Resettlement Case post-submission would require strong justification, based on a substantive UNHCR interview. The new Resettlement Case would be closed in proGres as “Not Recommended for Submission” with applicable reasons. Resettlement countries receiving eRRFs may have alternative requirements regarding case closure. Such cases should not be recorded as Withdrawn by the new country office if a new Resettlement Case has not been submitted.