I am a refugee or asylum-seeker in Australia. Can UNHCR resettle me to another country?
UNHCR is not able to resettle (or relocate) refugees, asylum-seekers or failed asylum-seekers from Australia to any other country.
UNHCR’s resettlement programme has limited numbers of places available to it and is geared primarily to the special needs of refugees who have been recognized pursuant to UNHCR’s mandate, and whose life, liberty, safety, health, or fundamental human rights are at risk in the country in which they sought refuge.
Resettlement is primarily used for the protection of refugees in countries of asylum which either do not have legal structures in place for the assessment and protection of refugees, or those in which such structures are ineffective or dysfunctional. Individuals who are not recognized as refugees are generally unable to be considered for resettlement.
Refugees who are in the territory of States with established and functional asylum systems will not meet the criteria for UNHCR resettlement and principal responsibility for their protection rests with the authorities of the host country.
I am a refugee and I wish to be resettled to Australia. Can UNHCR assist me?
If you are in a country outside Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea or the Pacific region, as a general rule, the assessment of resettlement needs is undertaken by UNHCR in your country of asylum.
If you are an asylum-seeker or refugee in one of the Pacific Island countries covered by UNHCR in Canberra*, please contact the UNHCR Regional Representation in Canberra http://www.unhcr.org/en-au/unhcr-canberra-australia.html.
If you are in a country outside UNHCR Regional Representation in Canberra’s region, a list of contact details for UNHCR offices is available at the following website.
Resettlement is a solution which is only available to a very small number of refugees. This is because very few resettlement places are available each year. They are, therefore, reserved for the most vulnerable cases only, where refugees are at risk in their country of asylum and are also without any prospects of a safe return to their country of origin. Recognition of refugee status does not necessarily mean that a refugee will be referred for resettlement.
You may wish to consider other avenues by which you may be able to migrate to Australia. If you do so, we recommend you seek the assistance of a migration agent/immigration adviser or lawyer. There is a directory of registered migration agents in Australia that may be accessed from the Australian Migration Agents Registration Authority.
* Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
I am a refugee and I wish to be resettled to the same country as my family members. Can UNHCR assist me?
UNHCR places great importance on the unity of nuclear and dependent family units. Nevertheless, resettlement is a solution which is only available to a very small number of refugees. This is because very few resettlement places are available each year. They are, therefore, reserved for the most vulnerable cases only, where refugees are at risk in their country of asylum and are also without any prospects of a safe return to their country of origin. Recognition of refugee status does not necessarily mean that a refugee will be referred for resettlement. Likewise, the fact of a family connection in a resettlement country will be taken into account but will not necessarily be a determining factor in and of itself.
If you are in a different part of the world and have family members living in, you should consider family reunification or sponsored humanitarian migration avenues that may be available to you outside the UNHCR resettlement programme. Your family members in Australia will be able to seek further advice on programmes such as the Special Humanitarian Programme and family reunification through the general migration programmes of each country. We recommend that your family members in Australia seek further information from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and that they consider seeking independent legal or migration advice. There is a directory of registered migration agents in Australia that may be accessed from the Australian Migration Agents Registration Authority.
With regard to resettlement by UNHCR, assessment of resettlement needs is undertaken by UNHCR in the refugees’ country of asylum and the assessment is primarily based on the difficulties and protection needs faced by the refugees in the country of asylum. The presence of family members in a given resettlement country is a relevant secondary consideration.
Where UNHCR assesses that resettlement is required, please note that refugees are asked for their consent to engage in the process, but are not entitled to choose the country to which they are referred.
UNHCR strongly supports the principle of family unity, especially as regards nuclear and dependent family members, and seeks to keep family members together wherever possible. Where resettlement is needed and where UNHCR has been informed by the refugees of their family links to a given country, this information will be taken into account. There are a number of reasons, however, why it may not always be possible for UNHCR to refer all members of an extended family to the same resettlement country.