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. The UNHCR resettlement program is intended for the most vulnerable refugees and is geared primarily towards the protection of refugees whose life, liberty, safety, health or fundamental human rights are at risk in the host country. Refugees are identified for resettlement by the UNHCR office in the country where they are registered. Less than 1% of all refugees have the opportunity to resettle worldwide. The Netherlands resettles 500 refugees per year.

UNHCR the Netherlands is not involved in the identification or final selection of refugees for resettlement to the Netherlands, and therefore has no influence on the resettlement process.

What is resettlement?

Resettlement is the careful identification by UNHCR and invitation by governments for the most vulnerable refugees to move to and receive asylum in another country, in case these refugees cannot return to their country of origin nor stay in the host country. UNHCR identifies vulnerable refugees for resettlement to 34 countries, including to the Netherlands. Resettlement countries offer the refugees they receive a residence status, housing, financial aid, access to healthcare and language lessons.

Who is eligible for resettlement?

UNHCR identifies the most vulnerable refugees for resettlement. For example, single women, single parents with minor children, refugees with urgent medical needs that cannot be met in the host country, refugees who have been victims of violence, torture and abuse, or refugees belonging to a specific vulnerable social group (for example, LGBT+ persons). However, refugees convicted of a crime, and those considered to be a danger to society, are not eligible for resettlement. 

How can I sign up to be resettled?

Refugees cannot sign up to be resettled. Additionally, UNHCR the Netherlands is not involved in the resettlement process. Application for admission to the program cannot be made; rather, the refugees in the first host country are identified by UNHCR according to their special protection needs. The final decision on admission is made by the respective resettlement country. In order to be eligible for resettlement you have to be registered with UNHCR in the host country. Once you are registered you are automatically considered for resettlement based on your protection needs. In order to allow the UNHCR staff to determine who are the most vulnerable refugees, and who are in urgent need of resettlement, it is important to keep the local office up to date as to your situation. For example, if your health deteriorates, or you become homeless, or you are the survivor of an attack, it is important to inform the local UNHCR office, so they are aware of your situation. Contact information of the local UNHCR offices can be found at of country.

Refugees are identified for resettlement by UNHCR through a series of assessments and interviews. After the identification by UNHCR, the refugees are also interviewed further by the authorities of the recipient country. The responsible party in the Netherlands is the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). The IND decides whether a refugee identified by UNHCR is eligible for resettlement. UNHCR does not make this decision.

What happens after I have been resettled to the Netherlands?

After arriving in the Netherlands, resettled refugees receive a residence permit, which grants. the same rights and obligations as Dutch nationals. COA (the agency responsible for reception of asylum-seekers and refugees) first receives resettled refugees and brings them to their new home. The municipality appoints an organization which will further assist the resettled refugees. In most municipalities the appointed organization is VluchtelingenWerk Nederland or VWN (the Dutch Council for Refugees).

Can I be resettled to the Netherlands from another European country (e.g. Greece or Bulgaria)? 

No, UNHCR does not resettle refugees from Europe.

Resettlement from the Netherlands to another country

UNHCR does not resettle refugees from Europe to other countries. UNHCR the Netherlands will therefore not be able to resettle you to another country if you are a refugee in the Netherlands.

Related information

Browse the ‘Where to seek help?’ section to find information about helpful services in the Netherlands
About UNHCR in the Netherlands