Working in Rwanda

In order to support education and/or employment opportunities for the refugees, UNHCR Rwanda seeks to update the current refugee education and occupational information included in the registration database. Refugees are requested to self-update this information here. You will need an internet connection to access the form from the link and to submit the form. Before submitting the form, make sure that all mandatory (*) fields are completed. You are requested to provide true information which will be verified at a later stage. Note that this is part of continuous registration and there is, therefore, no deadline to this process. If you need any clarification, kindly contact us through [email protected]

The Government of Rwanda has adopted among the most progressive policies worldwide to support refugee self-reliance. This enabling environment includes refugees having freedom of movement and the right to work. The Government has also promoted the financial inclusion of refugees through explicit reference to refugees in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy of Rwanda. Refer to this guideline for more information.

Frequently asked questions

Are Refugees allowed to work in Rwanda?

Yes. In principle, refugees can be recruited just like any Rwandan based on a competitive basis and they must equally fulfil the requirements listed in the job announcement. The Rwandan law n°13er/2014 of 21/05/2014 Art18 says that persons in Rwanda who have “obtained refugee status shall enjoy the rights and liberties provided for by international instruments”, thus including the 1951 Refugee Convention Article 17 which says that refugees must be given “the most favourable treatment accorded to nationals of a foreign country in the same circumstances, as regards the right to engage in wage-earning employment”.

Does an employer need to complete any special registration with immigration or any government institution?

No. No special registration is needed with immigration services nor with the Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) in recruiting a refugee.

Do refugees pay taxes and contributions to the social security as Rwandans?

Within the regular/formal employment sector, the employer must register the new employee with Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and Rwanda Social Security Board for taxes and other social security obligations as is the case with nationals.

What is the official proof-of-identity document for refugees?

All refugees who are 16 years old and above have access to a Refugee Identity Card provided by the National Identification Agency (NIDA). At the same time, all refugees have a document called “Proof of Registration”, which is used as a proxy ID (in A4 paper format) issued joint by the Government of Rwanda (MINEMA) and UNHCR.

Can refugees open a bank account?

Yes. Commercial banks generally require a valid refugee identity card. However, some banks (e.g., Equity Bank), MFIs and SACCOs allow refugees to open a bank account using their Proof of Registration.

Can refugees obtain a drving license in Rwanda?

Yes. Refugees can obtain a driving license, following the normal procedures as Rwandan nationals. The refugee must be in possession of a valid refugee ID card to register into the Irembo portal for the test and to make the payment when the permit is awarded. The same applies to a refugee who wants to convert a foreign driving license into a Rwandan license.

Are refugees' qualifications recognized for working in Rwanda?

Many refugees have university degrees, certified technical skills and diplomas provided by educational institutions from either their country of origin or Rwanda. Many refugees also have uncertified skills and all of them share the same linguistic and cultural background with their national counterparts which eases their integration into the workplace. However, those with academic documents obtained from foreign educational institutions may be required by some employers to apply for “equivalence” (recognition of academic qualification) provided by the Rwanda High Education Council (HEC). Requirements to apply for equivalence are accessible at HEC website whereas the request is submitted online through the Irembo portal (Click Application for Equating Foreign Qualifications).

Where can refugees find information on available job opportunities in Rwanda?

Job opportunities available in Rwanda are accessible on different job advertising sites and employment services providers’ websites. Click on the name of the website in the list below to get more information. UNHCR Rwanda also updates opportunities available for refugees regularly on the Useful Information page.

Can refugees register a new or be incorporated into an existing cooperative?

Yes. Refugees can register a new or be incorporated into an existing cooperative following the normal procedures as established by Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA). Registration guidelines are provided by RCA (click on the link for more information). To be incorporated into an existing cooperative, refugees are only required to fulfil requirements for new individual incorporation are spelt out in the cooperative’s bylaws.

Are refugees allowed to register a new or be incorporated into a private company?

Yes. Refugees can register a new or be incorporated into a private company following the same procedures as Rwanda nationals established by Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Guidelines for new business registration are outlined on the RDB website. Guidelines for the incorporation of a new individual into a private company are also provided by RDB.

Are refugees allowed to register a new or be incorporated into an existing non-for-profit organization or faith-based organization?

Yes. Refugees are allowed to register a new or be incorporated into an existing non-for-profit organization or faith-based organization following the same procedures as Rwanda nationals established by Rwanda Governance Board (RGB). Requirements for registering a new non-governmental or a faith-based organisation are provided by RGB and available on the RGB website.

Can refugees become Rwandan?

Yes. Refugees are eligible to apply for Rwandan Citizenship after becoming self-reliant (e.g., employed) for 5 years, according to Rwandan law.

See also

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