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What is resettlement? 

Resettlement involves the selection and transfer of refugees from a country of asylum (Iraq) to another country that has agreed to admit them – as refugees – with protection, assistance, and permanent residence status. This status provides a resettled refugee and their family or dependents with access to rights like those enjoyed by nationals. Resettlement also carries with it the opportunity to become a naturalized citizen of the resettlement country. 

Resettlement is not a right. Resettlement countries offer a very limited number of places each year, and few refugees meet the strict criteria for UNHCR submission. Fewer than 1% of refugees are resettled each year worldwide.

You cannot apply for resettlement. If your case is selected for resettlement consideration, UNHCR will contact you.

UNHCR identifies the most in need. Each case is considered based on needs and is not linked to legal status as a refugee or asylum-seeker or the date of registration with UNHCR. Information provided at the time of registration is considered when assessing eligibility. Being recognized as a refugee (via RSD) does not mean that you will be automatically referred for resettlement.

A resettlement country takes the final decision to accept a refugee, not UNHCR. UNHCR only identifies and interviews refugees for resettlement consideration according to a resettlement country’s strict criteria. A case is then ‘submitted’ by UNHCR to a resettlement country, which makes the final decision.

Like all humanitarian assistance, resettlement through UNHCR is free of charge. Nobody can ask you for money for resettlement or for any stage of the resettlement process.

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Asylum Seeker and Refugee Status

  • Asylum seekers and refugees enjoy equal access to UNHCR support, assistance and protection services. This also applies to access to Government-issued forms of legal stay and services.
  • A valid UNHCR certificate confirms that you need international protection and assistance as a refugee or asylum-seeker. Whether your refugee certificate indicates that you are an asylum-seeker or a refugee, you will receive all available UNHCR services and support.
  • Asylum-seekers and refugees registered by UNHCR in Iraq are protected under the Iraqi Constitution and relevant laws and regulations, including the Political Refugee Act 1971. They must also meet the obligations proscribed by those laws. Violations of Iraqi law may subject you to court proceedings, detention, deportation, and related consequences.
  • Refugee Status Determination is the legal or administrative process by which governments or UNHCR determine whether a person seeking international protection is considered a refugee under international, regional, or national law.
  • UNHCR only conducts refugee status determination if and when the circumstances of a case require a formal determination of refugee status to be made by UNHCR. The need to do so is determined on an individual basis.

Frequently Asked Questions on Resettlement

When will I receive a reply regarding my case, which has been submitted by UNHCR to a resettlement country?

Resettlement takes time but UNHCR will be in contact with you as soon as there are updates on your case. If you have been informed by UNHCR that your case has been submitted, you can expect to be contacted for an interview with the resettlement country selection mission, or resettlement staff will call you to counsel you on the status of your case.

Since my resettlement interview, a change has occurred. What should I do?

If after the resettlement interview with UNHCR, or at any stage in the resettlement process, a life event happens (new marriage, divorce, death, newborn child), please immediately inform UNHCR. If there has been any change in your personal circumstances (new medical need, protection threat), please immediately inform UNHCR.

UNHCR has contacted me and informed me that my file is not considered for resettlement.

UNHCR regularly counsels refugees and asylum-seekers under consideration for resettlement regarding the status of their case and resettlement application outcomes. If you have received a call from UNHCR stating that your file is not considered for resettlement, this means you do not currently have an active resettlement case.

Please continue to keep UNHCR apprised of any changes to your situation through interviews with the registration department when you renew your certificate. This does not affect your situation in Iraq regarding UNHCR’s protection or any assistance that you may be receiving from UNHCR.

Can I change the country of resettlement?

No. During the resettlement interview, you were briefed on the resettlement procedure and had a chance to provide the necessary details on your case. UNHCR has already considered all relevant factors before deciding to which resettlement country you will be submitted, including available quotas of resettlement countries and family links in the resettlement country.

You have the right to withdraw your resettlement case. Please note that if you do so, your case will not automatically be considered for re-submission to another country and may result in your resettlement case being inactivated. Requests for re-submission are assessed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis depending on withdrawal reasons.

My case was rejected by a resettlement country. When will my case be resubmitted?

Re-submission is not automatic, and every case is assessed on a case-by-case basis. UNHCR will decide whether your case will be resubmitted according to UNHCR criteria and the available quotas of resettlement countries.

Can I apply directly for resettlement through an Embassy?

Resettlement is only through UNHCR (and you cannot apply). Embassies offer different programs (family reunification, private visas, etc.) that you may be able to apply for.

Private visa procedures through Embassies are different from resettlement. You can, however, consult immigration websites for the country you would like to apply to, to see whether you qualify for immigration to that country and verify how to apply for immigration. These pathways (not resettlement) to travel to third countries are called Complementary Pathways. (Please consult Complementary Pathways Q&A for additional information)

Be aware!

Only seek information from reliable and official sources of information. There are many fraudulent website and pages on social media that pretends to be affiliated with the UNHCR, the UN, and forging embassies. Be vigilant, do not share your personal data, and do not pay money to fraudsters.

I have been interviewed for resettlement: should I stop working or studying?

No, you should continue your normal activities as there is no guarantee that you will be resettled. The resettlement process itself can also be lengthy. It can take many months (and in some cases years) before a final decision is taken by a resettlement country and departure arranged.

Can I appeal in case of denial?

No. If your case is denied, UNHCR resettlement may re-assess your case but there is no guarantee that your case will be resubmitted.