Resettlement FAQ

What is resettlement?

Resettlement is the transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another state that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent settlement. There are three durable solutions for refugees: voluntary repatriation, local integration in the country of asylum and resettlement.

Is there a right to resettlement?

Resettlement to a third country is not a right.
UNHCR estimates the global resettlement needs to be at almost 1,4 million persons, including the resettlement needs of refugees in a protracted situation where resettlement is envisioned over a period of several years (UNHCR Projected Global Resettlement Needs, 2018). Consequently, limited resettlement options must be managed very thoroughly. Resettlement to a third country requires not only that you are recognized as a refugee under UNHCR’s Mandate, but also a recommendation by the UNHCR Durable Solutions Committee that resettlement is the most appropriate durable solution for you, AND – most importantly – the resettlement country must agree with UNHCR’s assessment – often undertaking its own refugee status determination. Thus, the final decision on whether or not you are to be resettled rests with the third country, not with UNHCR. Recognition as a refugee under UNHCR’s Mandate also does not automatically mean that resettlement is the most appropriate solution for a refugee and that you will be automatically processed for resettlement. Even where the Durable Solutions Committee has recommended resettlement as the appropriate durable solution for a particular refugee, resettlement states set annual limits on the numbers and types of resettlement submissions they are able to accept. Consequently, UNHCR must prioritise resettlement submissions in way that respects these limitations, this may result in older cases being submitted after newer ones, usually those having more urgent needs.

When does UNHCR in Armenia undertake resettlement?

In Armenia UNHCR efforts focus on strengthening the national asylum system and assisting refugees to have access to and finding international protection in the country. Thus, UNHCR in Armenia does not operate a ‘resettlement programme’. UNHCR will only process a refugee for resettlement after it makes a determination through its Durable Solutions Committee that resettlement is the most appropriate solution for the refugee. The individual circumstances of each case will be assessed. UNHCR is guided by the 2011 UNHCR Resettlement Handbook in this assessment. As noted above, resettlement countries set their own priorities for resettlement, which also guide UNHCR resettlement processes and may result in targeting of specific profiles or exclusion of others.
In the majority of cases in Armenia, local integration is assessed to be the most appropriate solution for refugees in Armenia. UNHCR receives referrals for resettlement from NGOs, social workers, the Armenian Government, and from refugees themselves. UNHCR receives a much larger number of referrals than those who will ultimately be eligible for resettlement.

If I am referred for resettlement, how long will it take?

There is no set time-frame for resettlement and it can take many months, often years, and efforts may at time not be successful at all. This is because there are a limited number of resettlement spots available and sometimes UNHCR may have to approach several resettlement countries one after the other if earlier countries do not provide a positive response. Less than 1% of refugees worldwide benefit from resettlement. Only a small number of states take part in resettlement, while global resettlement needs are growing year by year.

It is therefore important that time waiting for resettlement is well used. Refugees whose cases have been submitted for resettlement remain eligible for participation in UNHCR’s and our partners’ training, self-reliance and integration projects. Preparatory language training may be undertaken.  Integration, vocational training or income generating activities conducted in Armenia shall not be discontinued and life should be planned in a way which takes into account the risk of delays or failure of resettlement. Language skills, conclusion of studies or continued work experience may be factures taken into account by potential resettlement countries in their decision making.

Can I appeal a resettlement refusal?

If a resettlement country refuses an application, there may be some recourse available, but it is very limited in scope and subject to very strict deadlines. Each state is governed by its own domestic law on what, if any, recourse is available in the case of a negative resettlement decision. Where a negative decision has been made by a resettlement country with respect to an application submitted by UNHCR, the office will provide refugees with all the necessary information on what possibilities are available to them. In some cases, UNHCR may re-submit a resettlement application to a different country, however, many states will not accept a resettlement submission that has previously been refused by a different country. Irrespective of what options may or may not be available to refugees subject to a negative resettlement decision, UNHCR will fully inform all refugees of what recourse may be available to them.

Do I have to pay for support with resettlement?

All UNHCR and NGO partner services are free of charge. If you are asked to pay for resettlement support by UNHCR or NGO staff, you should report this to the UNHCR Representative in Armenia, and/or to the UNHCR Inspector General. UNHCR and NGO partner staff are subject to the UNHCR Code of Conduct.