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Closed files (re-opening)

UNHCR’s Procedural Standards for RSD under UNHCR’s Mandate

Quick reference guide

The following is a RSDWatch summary and analysis of UNHCR’s Procedural Standards for Refugee Status Determination under UNHCR’s Mandate, published by UNHCR in September 2005.  All references (i.e. section x.x) are to these Standards, unless otherwise noted.

 Re-opening closed files

UNHCR standards call for asylum-seeker files to be closed whenever an application is abandoned, a rejected applicant fails to appeal the first instance decision, or where an applicant’s appeal is rejected.

Where an applicant either fails to appeal or is rejected on appeal, UNHCR’s standards allow for re-opening only in the following situations (section 9.2):

  • Reliable evidence of a change in circumstances that may change the person’s eligibility for refugee status.
  • Reliable and material new evidence that the case may have been rejected in error. 
  • There is “serious reason to believe that the claim was improperly decided and/or that grounds for eligibility for refugee status were not adequately examined or addressed.”

Abandoned applications: If an applicant fails to appear for a scheduled RSD interview and then fails to contact UNHCR within six weeks, his or her file may be closed (section 9.1).  However, UNHCR standards instruct field offices to generally grant requests to re-open such files unless the person has repeatedly missed appointments without reasonable explanation “and there is good reason to believe the individual is not acting in good faith” (section 9.2).

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