What is resettlement?

Resettlement involves a voluntary, safe and regulated transfer of people in need of international protection from the country where they are registered (either with UNHCR or with host government authorities) to another country which has agreed to admit them as refugees.

Resettlement is intended as a long-term solution. It may offer a pathway for refugees to eventually become citizens in their new country, although the process can take several years. Refugees who are resettled are given the right to work and study, access to health care and other social services, and the necessary support to participate in local communities, including language classes.

Can I apply for resettlement?

Nobody can apply for resettlement.

UNHCR identifies people who are most at risk of serious harm in the country where they are registered, and also in their home country, usually because of threats to their life, freedom or physical safety, or other serious violations of human rights. These risks are assessed when responding to the specific needs of individuals and families, taking due account of the local context, the availability of legal and physical protection, the accessibility of relevant services, the prospects for returning safely to their home country and the principle of family unity.

Women, men, girls and boys may be considered for resettlement, as well as persons of diverse gender identity or sexual orientation, people living with a disability, stateless individuals and others who are assessed to be in need of international protection. Factors such as nationality, ethnicity, political opinion, religious beliefs, education, work experience and language are not relevant to whether UNHCR will consider people for resettlement.

Resettlement is not a right. Resettlement countries offer limited quotas, meaning that most refugees cannot be considered for resettlement to another country even if UNHCR believes it would be necessary for their protection or to reunite them with family members. UNHCR will prioritize the most urgent cases for referral to a resettlement country. Refugees cannot choose the country which UNHCR will ask to consider their case, although they have the right to decide whether or not they wish to be resettled.

How do I know if I have a resettlement case?

If your case is considered for resettlement, UNHCR will contact you. UNHCR will be in touch with you during the different stages of the resettlement process. It is important that you tell UNHCR if you change your phone number or move to a different address.

All services provided by UNHCR, including resettlement, are free of charge. If you are asked by anyone to pay money in connection with resettlement, please report the incident to UNHCR: https://www.unhcr.org/making-complaint.html

Your personal data including your name, biographic information and reasons why you may be considered in need of international protection are protected by UNHCR policy, and will not be shared with resettlement countries without your authorization.

Who makes the final decision on my case for resettlement?

UNHCR identifies people who may be in need of resettlement and interviews them to collect the information that will be required by a resettlement country. However, the final decision whether or not to accept someone for resettlement as a refugee is made by government authorities in resettlement countries and not by UNHCR.

Resettlement countries also apply specific criteria and policies which may prevent UNHCR from referring certain kinds of cases to them.

If your case is not referred to a resettlement country, if you are advised that you are not currently eligible for resettlement, or if a resettlement country decides not to admit you as a refugee, then UNHCR will continue to provide assistance and protection in the country where you are currently registered for as long as UNHCR considers that you are in need of international protection.

See also