Complementary Pathways

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Complementary pathways are safe and regulated avenues that complement Resettlement and by which refugees may be admitted to a country and have their international protection needs met while they support themselves to potentially reach a sustainable and lasting solution.

Complementary Pathways are distinct and additional to resettlement. Third countries establish competitive criteria and decide who is admitted to their territories. Refugees and asylum seekers can apply directly for pathway opportunities, and a UNHCR referral is not always required.

Pathway opportunities may include the below:

  1. Family Reunification
  2. Labour Mobility Pathways
  3. Education Pathways
  4. Private Sponsorship Pathways

1. Family Reunification

The protection of family unity is an important human right. Family Reunification brings together family members living in different countries. Family reunification is when dependent family members such as children, spouses, parents, etc. are brought together after a period of separation. In general, family reunification is possible for child/parent and husband/wife relationships, if the family member is residing legally in a country in Europe, North America, or Australia. But there are exceptions to this, and every country has different requirements.

UNHCR assists with this process, which is guided by each country’s Immigration Law.

Who can help you in the Family Reunification process?

If you are a refugee or asylum-seeker in Egypt, aiming to reunite with family member(s) residing legally in a third country in (Europe, North America, Australia), UNHCR may be able to help connect you to a lawyer through our network of offices abroad, or an ongoing project UNHCR is running with a legal partner. This is dependent on the country of intended destination. UNHCR will also assist with your departure formalities and anything else you might need during this process.

You can contact UNHCR regarding Family Reunification at: [email protected]  

If you do not know where your family is, or you cannot contact them, you can contact the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for assistance: Sundays to Wednesdays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Located at No. 84, 104 road, Hadayek El Maadi Cairo, Egypt (Phone number: +20225281540/+20225281541/+20225281548).

Once you and your relative file an application for reunification to a third country, there is no guarantee that your case will be approved. The process can be long and there are usually many documents to provide and interviews to attend. UNHCR cannot advise on timelines for individual family reunification programs. If you have a family reunification application under process, please bring it to UNHCR’s attention; UNHCR may be able to provide legal and exist formalities assistance, including helping successful applicants who received visas obtain exit permits to depart Egypt.

Which countries have family reunification programmes for refugees?

Dedicated refugee family reunification procedures exist in most countries.  

Programs operating by the Canadian Government for Family Reunification:

The program focuses on the Family-based permanent residence pathway for people affected by the conflict in Sudan. Eligibility criteria for applicants and their anchors in Canada and the application submission can be found here: Who can apply – and

For more information on country-specific criteria and how to apply, please go to the Family Reunification section for the destination country of the UNHCR help website:  If you are seeking information about a family reunification program in a country that is not listed on the UNHCR’s help website, please search for “family reunification” on the government website of the related country.

2. Labour Mobility Pathways

Labour Mobility schemes are programs through which refugees and asylum seekers with particular professions or skills can apply for employment opportunities in third countries.

Third country employment opportunities are safe and regulated avenues for entry and stay in another country for the purpose of employment, with the right to either permanent or temporary residence.

3. Education Pathways

Education pathways are higher education opportunities through which refugees and asylum seekers are admitted to a third country. Access of the refugees and asylum seekers to these opportunities is based on their education and language skills.

Education pathways are available worldwide at the UNHCR Scholarship Opportunities for Refugees. If you are interested in exploring academic or scholarship opportunities abroad verified by UNHCR, click here.


4. Private Sponsorship Pathways

Private sponsorship programs provide individuals, groups of individuals or organizations with an opportunity to sponsor refugees and asylum seekers to come to their country and offering them protection and a new home.

In private sponsorship, the sponsors directly engage in the efforts to admit displaced persons in their country. They are the ones identifying, selecting, and supporting the entry and stay of people in need of international protection, who are not referred by UNHCR.

Sponsors can freely choose whom to support, the individuals sponsored most often include families consisting of parents and children or/and extended family members of the sponsors or people known to the community.

Programs operating from Egypt:

  1. Canadian Sponsorship Program
  2. Australia’s Special Humanitarian Sponsorship Program
  3. American Private Sponsorship (Welcome Corps)