The handheld procedure

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award


On 15 April 2010, the Danish Immigration Service instituted a ‘handheld procedure’. The concept is a fundamentally new way of organising the processing of applications for asylum in Denmark, which involves two independent authorities. This has resulted in considerably shorter application processing times for asylum seekers and shorter stays at accommodation centres, as well as lower costs per applicant. These improvements have come without a negative impact on the quality of application processing and without jeopardising the asylum seekers’ right to due process. The improvements have required few additional resources for application processing.

The fundamental principle of the ‘handheld procedure’ is ‘pushing’. This means that as soon as one step in the application process is completed, applicants are directed to the next step of the process. During the initial part of application processing immediately after the application is submitted, the applicant, as far as possible, is escorted from one division to the next and from authority to authority. The principles of LEAN have been applied in all relevant parts of application processing – from the procedures authorities follow internally, to the way an application is processed physically. A new joint unit – the Asylum Unit, which is made up of staff from both organisations – has been set up to carry out the procedure in practice. The unit is housed in a shared building and is set up so that it supports collaboration on day-to-day tasks. In the unit’s offices, new asylum applicants are registered, their identity and route to Denmark is determined and initial information about their motivations for applying for asylum is collected. In addition, a decision is made on which processing procedure their application falls under. The flexible collaboration within the unit ensures that all relevant enquiries, regarding for instance age, authenticity of documents, and external hearings, are undertaken as soon as possible.

The procedure applies to application processing from the time of registration of an asylum seeker by the Danish police, to the time when a first Instance decision is made on the application by the Immigration Service. The procedure was developed as part of a collaboration between the two authorities on the basis of a thorough analysis using the LEAN efficiency principles. During the procedure, applications are screened by experienced employees. This is done in order to ensure that as much relevant information as possible regarding the applications is available, before the actual application processing phase takes place. During the screening process the applications are also sorted according to how time consuming they appear to be.

As part of the handheld procedure, and with efficiency concerns in mind, the complicated applications are processed by one division and the more straightforward applications by another. The procedure is a new inter-organisational way of thinking and has positive effects for users (asylum seekers) and public agencies, as well as reduced costs. At the same time, the procedure has a long-term perspective, and its underlying principles can readily be adopted by other public agencies. The handheld procedure has given Denmark one of Europe’s fastest and most effective procedures for reviewing applications for asylum.

Award info
Award category: smart public service delivery
Award type: diploma
Award year: 2011
Project type
Sector: Justice, police, human rights and security
Type of activity:
Keywords: Asylum application processing LEAN handheld
Short English description: The procedure is an new inter-organisational way of thinking and has positive effects for users (asylum seekers) and public agencies, as well as reduced costs.
Further information
Organisation: Danish Immigration Service
Other applicants:
Level of government: national level
Size of organisation: >100
Number of people involved: >15
Country: Denmark
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:

The handheld procedure (55.693479, 12.569389)
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