Resettlement

What is refugee resettlement?

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

It may be helpful to look at UNHCR’s data portal regarding resettlement. It has the most up-to-date data on UNHCR’s resettlement activities and is updated on the 1st of each month. It is available online here. There is also a custom search option to find more resettlement data for specific countries, it is available online here.

What is the process of resettlement?

Resettlement is a durable solution to protection concerns a refugee may be facing in their country of asylum. UNHCR operations in the country of asylum will seek to address the protection concerns of refugees located in that country, often by finding a solution where they are located. Sometimes, where a refugee’s protection concerns cannot be addressed where they are located, UNHCR may seek to resettle the refugee. The UNHCR office in the country of asylum where the refugee is located will review the case. If a refugee is considered for resettlement, they will be informed by UNHCR where they are located. If a refugee is identified for resettlement by UNHCR they may be referred to the UK or they may be referred to another resettlement country. When UNHCR submits refugees for resettlement, the resettlement country makes the final decision on whether to accept their case.

Whether or not a refugee is resettled depends on many factors such as the availability of resettlement places, the admission criteria of the resettlement country and the cooperation of the country of  first asylum.

It should be noted that resettlement is only offered to a very small number of refugees based on their protection needs.  This is because there are very few resettlement places available each year compared with global resettlement needs.

Less than 1% of the world’s refugees are submitted for resettlement each year by UNHCR. Resettlement places are, therefore, prioritised for those most in need; where refugees face protection risks in their country of asylum and have no prospect of a safe return to their country of origin. A family connection in a resettlement country, such as the UK, may be considered but will not usually determine whether individuals are referred for resettlement.

Importantly, unlike with refugee status, resettlement is not a right, and there is no obligation on States to accept refugees for resettlement.

I am a refugee and I wish to be resettled to the UK. Can UNHCR in the UK assist me?

Unfortunately, no. UNHCR in the UK does not decide whether refugees are resettled to the UK. UNHCR operations with resettlement activities will assess whether a refugee meets the criteria for resettlement to a third country. If your case is considered for resettlement, UNHCR where you are located will contact you. UNHCR in the UK is not involved in this process.

Can UNHCR in the UK speed up or provide updates?

Unfortunately, no. Since the resettlement assessment process is undertaken by UNHCR operations in other countries, UNHCR in the UK is not able to provide updates or speed up the process. Our office in the UK does not have access to the case files for refugees registered in different offices and, in any event, we cannot disclose information regarding refugees abroad to third parties.

Refugees abroad should contact the UNHCR office closest to them if they would like to report any protection concerns or would like information on resettlement.

Is resettlement free of charge for refugees?

Yes. At no point in the resettlement process should a refugee be asked to pay money or to provide any sort of service, either by UNHCR, an external NGO, or any other individual or organization. Anyone that is approached for money or services with the promise of being resettled should raise the incident with their local UNHCR office through confidential complaints boxes or hotline numbers.

If you have complaints about fraud, you can also contact the independent Inspector General’s Office for UNHCR. More information is available here: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/inspector-generalsoffice.html

I want to apply with UNHCR to bring my extended family members to the UK through resettlement?

It is not possible to make an application to UNHCR to bring family members to the UK through resettlement (for example, parents, brothers, sisters or additional children aged over 18).

UNHCR prioritizes and submits refugees for resettlement for whom there are no other durable solutions, and whose lives are at risk in the country of asylum. It is important to understand this, since the overall likelihood of members of your family being prioritized for resettlement by UNHCR is unfortunately very low and it depends on their individual situation. The decision on who is prioritized for resettlement is not linked to the fact that you are in the UK. The decision on who is prioritized for resettlement is also outside of the control of UNHCR in the UK or the organization or group supporting you in the UK.

For further information please see: https://www.unhcr.org/5f8f11e04.pdf and https://www.unhcr.org/5f8f122d4.

I am worried about my family members who are refugees living outside the UK. What can I do to help them?

If your family outside the UK are asylum-seekers, refugees or stateless persons and they have concerns for their safety or wellbeing, they should contact their nearest UNHCR office. Depending on their issues, they may be referred to UNHCR programmes, government services or other support organisations in their country of asylum.

Contact details for UNHCR offices outside the UK can be found here. Many UNHCR offices have online information for refugees about how to access services and specific counselling times for contacting their nearest UNHCR office.

You are also welcome to contact UNHCR in the UK if you are concerned about relatives’ wellbeing in other countries, particularly if your relatives have not been able to contact their nearest UNHCR office to raise their concerns directly. We can be reached via telephone on 0203 761 9500 (Extension 2) or via email at [email protected] during working hours.

Please note that UNHCR in the UK is not normally involved in the resettlement process and we do not have direct access to case files that are registered in other countries. Also, we cannot provide confidential case information. This means our office in the UK may not be able to provide updates on the cases of refugees outside the UK and we will normally suggest that your refugee family members contact their nearest UNHCR office directly.


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