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Protection Intern

Washington D.C.

  • Organization: UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Location: Washington D.C.
  • Grade: Internship - Internship
  • Occupational Groups:
  • Closing Date: Closed

Hardship Level (not applicable for home-based)

H (no hardship)

Family Type (not applicable for home-based)


Staff Member / Affiliate Type


Target Start Date


Job Posting End Date

March 3, 2024

Terms of Reference


Organizational Unit: Protection and Solutions Unit, UNHCR Multi-Country Office Washington
Duty Station: Washington, D.C.
Position Title/Type: PSU Intern
Duration of the Internship: Between 12 weeks and 6 months
Expected Start Date: Summer internship: May/June; Fall internship: August/September

Background Information/Organizational Context:
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Regional Representation for the USA and the Caribbean, based in Washington D.C., seeks interns to assist staff in its Protection and Solutions Unit.

UNHCR’s Protection and Solutions Unit (PSU) serves asylum seekers, refugees, and stateless persons in the territory of the United States (U.S.), promoting protection in law and policy, as well as engaging in U.S. resettlement policy and local integration issues. The PSU’s resettlement staff also support UNHCR’s Caribbean Unit by managing refugee resettlement operations out of the Caribbean states and territories. The PSU informs government officials, attorneys, and NGOs about international standards of refugee protection and protection for stateless persons. Staff regularly meets with partners to discuss U.S.-specific issues related to refugee protection and statelessness, provides comments on proposed legislation and regulations, submits amicus briefs on select legal issues, engages with the U.S. government to provide technical assistance or advice to promote consistency between U.S. policy and international standards, and conducts training and public presentations to a range of audiences. Throughout all these endeavors, UNHCR maintains close communication with government partners in a range of U.S. agencies to ensure that our cooperative relationship is maintained.

The Individual Case (IC) Team facilitates a central part of UNHCR’s work in the U.S. to provide information on the laws, policies, and procedures for seeking protection in the United States to asylum-seekers, NGOs, and attorneys. The team also provides counseling on individual resettlement queries from congressional offices, NGOs and resettlement agencies.

The Regional Protection Policy Team within the PSU focuses on protection policy and practice with UNHCR operations in Latin America as it relates to U.S. border policy; US maritime protection and Northern Caribbean policy and practice; and the interplay between U.S. border arrivals, U.S. domestic responses, and U.S. regional engagement with Latin American states.

The Resettlement Team within the PSU works primarily in three areas including: identifying, interviewing, and submitting for resettlement refugees out of the Northern Caribbean region; U.S. resettlement policies impacting global resettlement; and U.S. policy regarding refugees resettled in the U.S.

PSU is recruiting interns to support UNHCR’s work in the Regional Protection Policy Team, IC Team and the Resettlement Team. Interns working with the Regional Protection Policy Team will focus largely on conducting research on issues relating to the team’s area of focus. Interns working with the IC Team will focus on responding to requests for information and assistance through the range of PSU communication modalities. Interns working with the Resettlement Team will focus on conducting protection assessment interviews with individuals in the Northern Caribbean region, primarily in the Dominican Republic, researching country of origin information and relevant laws of third countries, and preparing cases for resettlement interviews and submission.

Duties and Responsibilities:
• Answer and respond to individual queries from asylum seekers, refugees, stateless people, and other people with and for whom UNHCR works;
• Conduct interviews in Spanish with refugees to obtain basic protection information;
• Conduct country of origin and other research to support individual asylum cases;
• Conduct policy research on domestic and regional asylum procedures, among other topics;
• Provide counseling on individual resettlement queries from congressional offices, NGOs and resettlement agencies through writing to UNHCR country offices;
• Observe and report on relevant meetings and conferences with government agencies and various NGOs working in the field;
• Open and maintain individual case files in UNHCR’s case management database;
• Conduct other projects as needed to further assist the people with and for whom UNHCR works.

Minimum Qualifications Required:
• Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or J.D. degree, either obtained or in-process (assignments may vary depending on intern’s background).
• Strong interest in the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, displaced persons, other protected individuals. stateless individuals, international relations, human rights, or humanitarian response.
• General technological proficiency a plus.
• Ability to multi-task and prioritize with minimal supervision. Attention to detail required.
• English language (fluency required); Fluency in Spanish (fluency required for regional protection policy team and resettlement team; desired for the IC team); Fluency in Haitian Creole (preferred for the resettlement team). Additional language skills highly desirable.

Terms of Internship:
• Candidates may apply for all internship positions. In their application, candidates can indicate if they have a preference for working with a particular team. If no preference is indicated, the candidate will be considered for all teams. Candidates will be selected to work with only one team, although all interns will spend a small portion of their time supporting individual casework.
• UNHCR offers full time and part time internships. Interns are responsible for their housing, their legal stay in the United States, health insurance, and any other related documentation.
• The hiring office will provide interns who do not receive financial support from a third party (e.g., the university or government grant) a Food and Local Transportation Allowance (FLTA), calculated in USD and normally payable in local currency via bank transfer.
• The monthly amount of the Allowance is 50% of the monthly salary of the GS level 3 step 1 for the Washington, D.C. duty station. The Allowance for part-time internship is prorated. Please also note that the FLTA is not considered as source of income, and UNHCR will not provide any tax related documents such as W-2 forms.
• An internship does not create any expectation or entitlement to employment with UNHCR at the conclusion of the internship.

How to Apply
• To be considered for any one of these positions, candidates must complete their application through the UNHCR jobs portal.
• In your cover letter, please make sure to include the following: whether you are applying for the Summer and/or Fall term, full-time or part-time, remote or in-person (in Washington, D.C.), and whether you have available funding through your university to sponsor the internship.
• All vacancies are posted to UNHCR’s careers portal ( Filter by location country and select “United States.” Select the internship job announcement, and then click “Apply” to complete your application. If you have never submitted an application via our new career portal, you will be requested to register as a new user and create an account. Applications will not be accepted by email. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
• UNHCR encourages applications from all qualified candidates without distinction on the grounds of race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The agency values diversity, inclusiveness, and gender equity and strives to achieve full adherence to these principles in its policies and organizational culture. For more information on UNHCR’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, please see the page at this link.
• For more information on UNHCR’s work, please visit our website.


Standard Job Description

Required Languages




Desired Languages





Additional Qualifications



Bachelor of Arts (BA): International Relations, Bachelor of Science (BS): Refugee Law


Work Experience

Other information

This position doesn't require a functional clearance


This vacancy is now closed.
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