What is Resettlement?

Resettlement involves the selection and transfer of refugees from the State in which they have sought asylum to a third State that has agreed to admit them as refugees with permanent residence status. 

Resettlement is not a right that is available to all refugees. Resettlement consideration is based on protection needs and is conducted on an on-going basis as part of UNHCR’s everyday work.  Refugees are not considered on the basis of how long they have been in a country. 

Do I have to pay money to be considered for resettlement?

  • Refugees should not pay anyone for resettlement consideration, for the submission of a case, or at any step in the process. 
  • All services provided by UNHCR, the government, and implementing partners in the camp are free of charge. 
  • Please notify UNHCR immediately if anyone demands money for any resettlement (or other) services. 

Who may be considered for resettlement?

  • UNHCR identifies refugees for resettlement on an on-going basis. 
  • Only persons who have been recognized and registered as refugees by the Kenyan authorities may be considered for resettlement. Resettlement is not available to asylum-seekers who are pending refugee status determination. 
  • While assessing an individual case, voluntary repatriation and local integration prospects will also be taken into account. 

Resettlement consideration is undertaken regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, marital status, education level, social status, religion, or nationality. 

What happens when UNHCR submits a case to a resettlement country?

If UNHCR determines that a case should be resettled, it is submitted to a resettlement country for its consideration. 

The resettlement country makes the final decision concerning the resettlement of a refugee, not UNHCR. Each resettlement country has its own regulations and procedures for the resettlement of refugees and therefore reserves the right to accept or reject a refugee. 

Step 1: The refugee’s case is submitted to the most suitable resettlement country, as determined by UNHCR, that has allocated resettlement places for refugees in Kenya. 

Step 2: The authorities of the resettlement country conduct their own interview(s). These authorities make their own assessment of the case. 

Step 3: A final decision is issued to the refugee by the resettlement country. 

Step 4: If approved by the resettlement country, each family member undergoes medical screening and security clearances. Medical examinations are arranged by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), except for refugees being resettled to Australia, as the Australian Government has engaged a private company to provide these services. 

Step 5: A cultural orientation is arranged by the resettlement country and IOM, except for refugees being resettled to Australia, as the Australian Government has engaged a private company to provide these services. 

Step 6: Travel arrangements are made by IOM upon receiving notice from the resettlement country, except for refugees being resettled to Australia, as the Australian Government has engaged a private company to provide these services. 

Step 7: Upon arrival of the refugee in the country of resettlement, national authorities and/or local NGOs support the refugee to find a place to live, get a job, enroll their children in school, and other ways to support the refugee to fully integrate into their new society. 

The entire resettlement process is complex and takes a considerable amount of time. Different cases are processed at different timelines depending on many factors. Refugees whose cases have been submitted for resettlement should be patient while the case is being processed. It may take one to two years, or longer, for a final decision to be made and for the refugee to depart to the resettlement country. 


All UNHCR resettlement files are kept strictly confidential. UNHCR requests that all refugees whose cases are considered for resettlement sign a declaration authorizing UNHCR to share all information and any documents pertaining to them and their family members with government officials from the resettlement country. 

Frequently asked questions 

1. Can I enquire about updates on my case? 

You will be contacted by UNHCR’s Resettlement Unit if there is a need to complete follow-up interviews to resolve any pending issues, or if there are any developments in the processing of your case. You can also contact UNHCR by calling the helpline through 1517 (toll free) or by writing to [email protected]. As the resettlement process takes a considerable amount of time, please avoid contacting UNHCR regularly to inquire into the status of your case.

2. How can I indicate my interest to be resettled and how would I know If I am eligible?

UNHCR does not consider requests for resettlement submitted by refugees. Resettlement places are extremely limited and UNHCR identifies families in need of resettlement following strict guidelines and procedural standards. If you do become eligible for resettlement at a future date, you will be invited through SMS for an interview at the UNHCR compound

3. If my case has been processed and submitted to resettlement country, whom do I contact?

You may contact the resettlement country directly using the contact information provided to you during the interview. 
For US submissions, you may check your case status online at  or write an email to: [email protected].  

4. After my resettlement interview, how long will it take for my case to move to the resettlement country?

Resettlement can be a lengthy process and refugees should be prepared to be patient throughout the process. Prioritization of any case is determined in adherence to strict guidelines. There is no guarantee that all refugees interviewed by UNHCR will be submitted for resettlement.  You will be contacted by UNHCR or the resettlement country when there is an update on your case.

5. Can I request for resettlement to my country of choice?

Yes, you can express your preference for a specific country but UNHCR cannot guarantee that you will be submitted to your preferred country. UNHCR considers the desires of your family, the presence of close relatives in a particular country, and the criteria of the different resettlement countries when deciding the most appropriate country of submission 

6. Can I reject a resettlement country chosen for me? What happens to my case after I reject the offer?

If you choose not to be considered for resettlement to a particular country, you risk being excluded from all future resettlement processing. If you decide to withdraw your case from the resettlement country that has interviewed and accepted your case, UNHCR will counsel you on the implications and consequences of the withdrawal. Please understand this is a risk because UNHCR will very likely not be able to submit your case again to the country of your choice.

7. Why is my resettlement process taking so long?

Resettlement is a time-consuming process and processing timeframes vary from country to country due to different immigration laws, priorities and resources. It is impossible for UNHCR to predict how long it will take from the time a family has completed resettlement interviews with UNHCR to the time they actually leave Kenya. 

8. I was informed at the protection counselling that my case is on-hold. How can I get more information?

Most resettlement cases are placed on hold at some stage of resettlement processing. Some cases are placed on a short-term hold while others may be placed on hold for a longer period of time. This is a normal process. A hold to your case does not automatically mean that there is a problem with your case or that you will not be resettled. It simply means that UNHCR is working on your case. Resettlement cases are only placed on hold by UNHCR when it is necessary to do so, and there are many different reasons why this may happen. Due to the need to protect confidentiality, UNHCR cannot always explain to each individual why their case may be put on hold. This may be very frustrating. However, approaching UNHCR or asking about your case frequently will not change this and will not help your case to move faster.  

9. I have not been contacted by the resettlement country. When will they call me?

Resettlement is a time-consuming process and processing timeframes vary from country to country due to different immigration laws, priorities and resources. It is impossible for UNHCR to predict how long it will take from the time a family has completed resettlement interviews with UNHCR to the time they are called for an interview with the resettlement country.

10. I am in a polygamous marriage. Can my wives be resettled with me?

Polygamy is illegal in nearly all resettlement countries, and therefore refugees cannot be resettled if they are intending to continue a polygamous marriage. Your family will be counselled individually by UNHCR about your resettlement opportunities and you will need to consider the best arrangements for your spouses and children.

11. My spouse/children is in xx country and I would like to be reunited with them.

If you have close relatives in a particular country of resettlement UNHCR will do what we can to help you be reunited with them through resettlement. If you would like to explore other means of reuniting with your family members outside the scope of the resettlement process, please inform your family members to approach the immigration office or non-governmental organization in the resettlement country for advice on how the process can be initiated. 

12. I would like to know more about complementary pathways – where can I find more information?

In addition to resettlement there are also other opportunities to relocate to a third country through complementary pathways. Complementary pathway include the following opportunities: 

  • Education pathways 
  • Labour mobility schemes 
  • Family reunification procedures 
  • Private sponsorship 

For more information on the available opportunities you can visit: 

13. Can I be permanently disqualified from UNHCR’s resettlement program?

  1. Any refugee who attempts to commit fraud relating to his or her resettlement case may be permanently disqualified from any resettlement program facilitated by UNHCR. This includes:
  • Giving false information about your marital status, as well as conducting a marriage with the sole purpose of obtaining resettlement. 
  • Giving false information about any aspect of your personal history, including your personal details and the reasons you sought international protection as a refugee. 
  • Claiming a false identity or attempting to replace one person with another. 
  • Not being precise and accurate about a relationship to someone on the case or a related case. 
  • Attempting to add a person on a case who is not a genuine member of your family. 
  • Hiding a family member or making a false claim of losing a family member in the hope of qualifying for resettlement. 
  • Presenting forged or fraudulent documents including birth, marriage, or death certificates. 
  • Charging money to refugees for resettlement services. 
  • Making false claims or reports about fraud against staff or refugees. 

14. Where can I report fraud, corruption and exploitation by UNHCR or other officials?

  1. You should report any fraud, corruption or exploitation by UNHCR or our partners that you observe or that comes to your attention. While we will accept and take action on anonymous allegations, it would be better if you disclose your name and phone number or email address so we  can follow up with you if necessary. UNHCR has robust procedures to prevent fraud and corruption and to investigate and take action against fraudulent and corrupt activities.   

If you wish to report improper conduct including corruption, fraud, bribery, exploitation, or extortion by UNHCR or another official, contact: 

Email:  [email protected] 


Fax:  +41 22 739 7380 

Helpline: 1517 (toll-free) and inform the operator that you want to report a fraudulent activity.  Your call will be referred to a specialist staff member and treated in full confidence. 

15. What is the impact of committing fraud, corruption and exploitation?

Fraud, corruption and exploitation, whether committed by UNHCR, one of our partners, government officials, or refugees can have a significant impact on the availability of services provided by UNHCR and partners and may result in significant delays in finding appropriate solutions including through resettlement.

See also

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