Working in Rwanda

Livelihood Opportunities

The Government of Rwanda has adopted progressive policies to support refugee self-reliance. This enabling environment includes refugees having freedom of movement and the right to work.

Are refugees allowed to work in Rwanda?

Yes. If you are a recognized refugee  in Rwanda, you are also allowed to work legally in Rwanda as per Art. 18 of law n°13er/2014 of 21/05/2014 relating to refugees. Remember to obtain your refugee identity card. Without it, it is possible that you will find complications in accessing employment and social security, as well as complications in accessing financial services.


What are the basic labor rights in Rwanda?

If you have been hired, both you and your employer must remember that you have the right to fair treatment and fair pay. In addition, you have the following rights:

  • Affiliation to Social Security
  • Work a maximum of 8 hours a day, and 40 hours a week if your contract is full time.
  • Paid vacations
  • Maternity or paternity leave
  • Sick leave

If you have been a victim of labor exploitation or harassment or have suffered any type of discrimination, go to the nearest administrative district and file a complaint with a Labor Inspector.

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 (RSSB) 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) through the Immigration Services. At the same time, refugees have a document called “Proof of Registration”, which is used as a proxy ID (in A4 paper format) issued jointly 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 driving 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 granted by educational institutions in either their country of origin or in Rwanda. Refugees with academic documents obtained from foreign educational institutions may be required to apply for “equivalence” (recognition of academic qualifications) provided by the Rwanda High Education Council (HEC). Requirements to apply for equivalence are accessible at


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.




Where can refugees find support to apply for a job or a scholarship opportunity?

UNHCR, in partnership with the community-based protection partner, has trained 32 Digital Career Counsellors (DCCs) and equipped them with computers and internet connectivity in order to assist their peers in applying for scholarships and job opportunities advertised online. These DCCs are usually located at the Community Centers in all the 5 camps and urban areas of Kigali and Huye.

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 organization are provided by RGB and available on the RGB website.

Does being a participant into a livelihood intervention affect my chances to be resettled into a third country?

No. Being part of a livelihood intervention and pursuing self-reliance while in Rwanda does not affect the refugee’s chances to be resettled into a third country. On the country, livelihood intervention, e.g., acquisition of technical or entrepreneurship skills may smoothen the process of integration into the labor market in the country of resettlement.

Can refugees acquire Rwandan citizenship?

Yes. Refugees are eligible to apply for Rwandan Citizenship on grounds of marriage (after 5 years), investment, special skills or talents, or after 25 years of residence on grounds of being an immigrant.

Can refugees in Rwanda access online job opportunities?

Refugees living in Rwanda are also encouraged to leverage on the internet coverage within the country, including refugee camps, in order to tap into existing online job opportunities accessible through different platforms, including:


What scholarship opportunities are available for refugees in Rwanda?

Couloir universitaire pour les réfugiés vers la France – Programme UNIV’R

The scholarships are open for French-speaking refugees currently residing in the first country of asylum. There is no geographical limitation and no age limit to apply.

For more information (and to check whether new applications are open or not), consult the scholarships link.

Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme

The largest scholarship and leadership initiative in Africa, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program prepares talented and diverse young people with a commitment to giving back with the skills and mindsets they need to pursue their aspirations and enrich their communities. Find out more about Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme here.

The Scholars Program is implemented through universities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The application process and decision-making are managed individually by each university and NGO. If you are interested in becoming a Scholar, you must apply through the university of your choice. We recommend that you research the application guidelines or contact the institution of your choice for more information. Institutions have their own deadlines and admission fees. For schools that require application fees as part of the admissions process, the fees will be reimbursed if the student is selected for the Scholars Program.

Find the list of institutions here.

Additional scholarships opportunities at university level are offered through different channels, including DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative), Kepler University, African Leadership University (ALU), etc. For more information about each program, and to know if applications are ongoing, please click on the link of each institution listed below:

What vocational training opportunities are available for refugees in Rwanda?

A good number of partners provide support to refugees in upgrading their technical skills to improve their employability through Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) training.

Calls for applications for scholarship opportunities are announced on publicly accessible platforms and posted in places accessible to refugees and members of the host community.

Academic Mobility Opportunities


Are you a student interested in connecting with universities? If so, Meto can help.

Meto is a nonprofit organization that aims to increase access to higher education for students across the African continent.

Figuring out which universities to apply to is not an easy process. Meto exists to make this easier for you. How do we do it? Simply, Meto reverses the process: instead of you needing to identify good-fit universities, Meto allows you to be approached by good-fit universities.

The first step is to complete Meto’s Student Information form here:

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at [email protected] or on WhatsApp (+251987314242).


Backpack 26 project is a Universal Tool for Academic Mobility that provides access to higher education and training opportunities by keeping important educational documents safe and safely sharing documents with universities, employers, scholarship agencies, and credential evaluators.

Find more information here.

How to open a BackPack26 Account?

  1. Go to
  2. Click on create your account (if you are using a computer, find the button on the right side of the browser. If you are using a smartphone, scroll down to find the button)
  3. Answer the three questions
  4. Add your email address and a username of your choice and click “create an account.”
  5. Check your email inbox for a link of verification and set a password.

Online Learning Opportunities

Refugees in Rwanda can take courses on Coursera. For registration, send your name, email address and Proof of Registration number to [email protected].

Where can refugees obtain support to access a computer and internet connection?

Refugees can visit the Community Center located in their respective location to check the availability of computers and the internet to search for online opportunities as far as job, scholarship and online learning are concerned.

See also

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