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Refugee Resettlement: A Comprehensive Guide

Refugee resettlement involves moving a refugee from their country of asylum to a safe third country. This often occurs when refugees are based in a country which is not able to meet all of their needs, for instance if they are living in an overcrowded or under-resourced refugee camp or if they have special medical requirements.

If you are interested in learning more about refugee resettlement, contact Newcastle Immigration Lawyers today. Our specialist immigration lawyers can answer any questions which you might have.

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    Refugee Resettlement: An Overview

    When seeking refuge from a particular country, many refugees claim asylum in a neighbouring country which it is easier for them to access. However, this neighbouring country may not ultimately be well-suited to meet their needs. In particular, refugees may end up residing in overcrowded refugee camps which do not have adequate resources. They may also have health needs which the country of asylum is unable to meet.

    However, many refugees remain unable to go home, due to factors such as conflict or war in their home country, or the risk of persecution. In cases such as these, refugee resettlement may be an option.

    Refugee resettlement is the process of transferring a refugee from their country of asylum to a safe third country in which they will be able to settle more permanently. In such situations, the third country will have agreed to admit the refugee. Often, the refugee will be granted permanent settlement, although this is not always so.

    Refugee resettlement is a vital part of the global response to forced displacement. It helps relieve the pressure on the countries which immediately neighbour the areas from which refugees are fleeing. It also helps to more fairly distribute the global responsibility for providing assistance to refugees. Additionally, it helps to ensure that the refugees themselves have access to a safe and suitable living environment which is able to fully meet their needs.

    The UK government has made recent changes to its resettlement schemes. It previously used the Gateway Protection Programme, the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, and the Vulnerable Children Resettlement Scheme. However, these have now been consolidated under the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS). It also uses a Community Sponsorship Scheme and a Mandate Resettlement Scheme, the latter of which is not specific to the UK. These different schemes will be explored in more detail throughout the article.

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      Refugee Resettlement Eligibility Criteria

      The eligibility criteria for refugee resettlement will depend on the resettlement in question. However, in general, a person must already have been granted refugee status in the asylum country and will have demonstrable needs that are not able to be met by the asylum country, such as specific medical needs or being reunified with family members.

      The specific eligibility requirements of the different schemes are as follows:

      UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS)

      This resettlement scheme was initially introduced by the UK government in July 2019. It is open to refugees who the UNHCR has already recognised as eligible for resettlement, based on their satisfaction of one of the following criteria:

      • Legal and/or physical protection needs
      • Survivor of violence and/or torture
      • Medical Needs
      • Women and girls at risk
      • Children and adolescents at risk
      • Family reunification
      • Lack of foreseeable alternative durable solutions

      Note that having refugee status and satisfying one of the above criteria does not guarantee resettlement, however. The vast minority of refugees are ultimately resettled to a safe third country.

      Additionally, being recognised by the UNHCR as being eligible for resettlement does not guarantee that the UK government will agree to resettle that individual. A number of different factors are also taken into account when making that decision, such as government funding commitments and the capacities of local authorities within the UK. As such, the number of refugees which the UK agrees to resettle via this scheme varies on an annual basis.

      It is worth noting that, when children are resettled through this scheme, they are generally accompanied by their parents. In general, the UNHCR will attempt to keep children in the same region as their parents, which is generally recognised as being in their best interests. Where this is not possible, the UNHRC may deem resettlement to be in their best interests.

      Mandate Resettlement Scheme

      The Mandate Resettlement Scheme is global in nature and so is not specific to the UK. Its aim is to resettle refugees with close family members in the UK, where those family members are willing and able to accommodate them.

      In order to be eligible for this scheme, the refugee in question must satisfy for following criteria:

      • Recognised by the UNHCR as being both a refugee and in need of resettlement
      • The minor child, spouse, parent, or grandparent (over 65) of someone who is either settled in the UK or has temporary residence status in a category which leads to eventual permanent residence

      Note that resettlement with wider family members, such as adult siblings, will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

      Community Sponsorship Scheme

      This scheme is intended to help community groups themselves directly welcome a resettled family into their community, who they will then continue to support. It was introduced in response to a desire on the part of certain UK communities to offer their direct support to refugees.

      For the refugees themselves, the eligibility conditions for the Community Sponsorship scheme are the same as the UKRS.

      For the community sponsors, they will need to demonstrate that they satisfy the following conditions in order to be approved:

      • They have sufficient resources to support the resettled family, including financial and housing resources
      • They are working within a particular framework which clearly outlines the responsibilities and structures within the community in question
      • They have a credible plan for offering the resettled family the right support, and the relevant experience to implement the plan
      • They do not present a risk to the family being supported

      Reset, an organisation funded by the Home Office, offers training to both prospective community sponsor groups and to groups which have already been approved.

      The application process for the Community Sponsorship scheme is as follows:

      1. The community group creates or finds a sponsorship application.
      2. The group starts fundraising and agrees on its policy.
      3. Consent is granted by the local authority.
      4. An application is submitted by the prospective lead sponsor in order to get approval to act as a community sponsor.
      5. Due diligence checks are performed on the lead sponsor.
      6. A pre-approval visit to the organisation is arranged.
      7. The application is considered against the community sponsor criteria listed above.
      8. If approval is granted, an agreement with the sponsor is signed.
      9. A refugee family is matched to the community group.
      10. The resettled family will arrive at the community, generally between 6-12 weeks after the allocation has been made.
      11. The progress of the family, and success of the community/sponsor at delivering their aims, will continue to be monitored.

      The Refugee Resettlement Process In The UK

      There are a number of steps which refugees must go through in order to be resettled in the UK. These are as follows:

      • The UNHRC will assess which refugees are in need of resettlement, according to their assessment categories, as were mentioned earlier in this article. Once these candidates have been selected, their cases will be submitted to the UK government, which then decides on which cases it will accept.
      • The refugees who are selected then go through both health assessments and cultural orientations. These are completed before they arrive in the UK.
      • Their safe arrival in the UK is then handled by the International Organisation for Migration. In the meantime, a coordinated effort takes place in the UK to prepare for their arrival. This effort generally involves the local councils involved in the resettlement and relevant charities such as the Refugee Council. The refugees are flown to the UK, either by scheduled or chartered flight.
      • Once the refugees arrive, they are met at the airport, often by a charity organisation. Charities such as the Refugee Council will often perform this service. The refugees are then taken to their new accommodation.

      Once the refugees have arrived, they continue to be supported by their local council and refugee charities. They are offered support with areas such as healthcare, education, and securing employment.

      What Are The Rights Of Resettled Refugees In The UK?

      All resettled refugees have the legal right to work in the UK. They are also legally entitled to access essential services such as education (including higher education), job-seeking assistance, healthcare, and welfare benefits.

      In the case of the UKRS, there is funding available for making adjustments to the homes of resettled refugees with mobility issues, in order to make their homes more accessible. Refugees resettled through the UKRS will also be entitled to local authority support in areas such as English language training. Families will be allocated a caseworker who will assist them in integrating into UK life and accessing local services such as local schools and job centres. Resettled refugees can discuss any concerns or issues which they may have with their caseworker, who will help them to address those issues.

      In the case of refugees resettled through the Community Sponsorship Scheme, the community group itself is responsible for providing this integration support. They are expected to meet the level of support which would otherwise be provided under the UKRS.
      Regarding travel, resettled refugees should be mindful not to use their national passport for travel purposes once they have received refugee status. Rather, they should apply for a 1951 UN Convention Travel Document, which is also known as a Refugee Travel Document.

      This will require them to submit their passport to the Home Office, which the Home Office will then hold whilst the refugee possesses a Refugee Travel Document. This travel document will be valid for all countries except for the country from which the refugee sought refuge and their country of origin, in the event that these are two different countries. If the refugee does choose to travel back to the country from which they received refuge, their refugee status is liable to be revoked on the grounds that it is no longer necessary.

      Refugees are not required to repay the cost of their resettlement. However, they will be provided with access to services (such as local job centres and language classes) which will assist them in becoming financially independent.

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        How long does the refugee resettlement process take?

        The process of being resettled in the UK can take many months, from start to finish. It is a process which begins with being granted refugee status by the UNHRC and extends to the refugee’s arrival in the UK, all of which takes considerable time.

        Once someone has been selected for resettlement in the UK and has been found accommodation, they can generally expect to travel to the UK within 6-8 weeks of that point.

        I am a Resettled Refugee In The UK: How Long Can I Stay?

        In the past, refugees resettled through the Gateway Protection Scheme were granted the right to permanent settlement. This was on the grounds that it was highly unlikely that they would ever be able to return to their home country.

        Under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, refugees were initially granted 5 years of Humanitarian Protection. From 1 July 2017, however, they were offered five years of refugee status.

        These two schemes have now been discontinued. The UK now uses the consolidated UK Resettlement Scheme. Under this scheme, refugees are granted permanent settlement upon arrival in the UK.

        Camp of migrants

        What Is The Difference Between Resettlement And Asylum?

        In understanding the difference between resettlement and asylum, it is first necessary to understand the difference between refugees and those seeking asylum. Somebody who is a refugee has already been granted refugee status, whereas someone seeking asylum has not yet received this status.

        To be eligible for refugee resettlement, an individual must already have been granted refugee status in their country of asylum. They are then given authorisation to move to a safe third country, where they can legally live and work.

        According to international law, anyone is legally entitled to claim asylum upon reaching the UK. However, it is very difficult to reach the UK without prior authorisation, with many people undergoing highly dangerous journeys in order to do so. The risk to health of attempting such journeys is incredibly high.

        Current UK government policy is to not grant refugee status to anybody who enters the UK without authorisation. As such, it is currently very difficult to legally settle in the UK if you are claiming asylum in the UK itself, rather than receiving refugee status in a separate country and then being selected for resettlement in the UK.

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          How Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Can Help

          Getting resettled in the UK is often a complicated process. The process has many stages and has been subject to recent policy changes. These recent changes in the UK’s approach to refugee resettlement may lead to some confusion amongst those interested in the resettlement process.

          Once you arrive in the UK, you may also have questions about what your rights are and what settling in the UK means for you.

          If any of these issues affect you, or you would like to find out more about refugee resettlement in the UK, contact Newcastle Immigration Lawyers today on 0191 303 8965 or online. Our immigration solicitors have years of experience in cases just like this and are ready to offer you bespoke legal advice.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    Often, refugees flee to a country which neighbours the area from which they are seeking refuge. However, the countries to which they flee may not be in a position to fully meet their needs. Additionally, they may become overburdened. In cases such as these, refugee resettlement is vitally important. It ensures that refugees are able to reside in a country in which their needs can be met.

                    It also distributes the burden of providing for refugees more fairly, ensuring that a small number of countries are not disproportionately responsible for providing global refugee support. Additionally, it provides refugees with greater stability and with access to local services.

                    In the case of the Mandate Resettlement Scheme, refugee resettlement plays the important role of assisting with family reunification, where possible.

                    A very small percentage of the global refugee population actually goes on to be resettled after receiving refugee status. Many remain in refugee camps, continue their journey onwards, or eventually return home.

                    In 2022, 114,300 refugees were resettled, approximately 1% of the global refugee population. Meanwhile, 339,000 refugees returned to their country of origin. As such, of the millions who have been displaced worldwide, very few refugees are ultimately resettled.

                    In 2019, the US resettled the highest number of refugees, followed by Canada and then the UK.

                    In Europe, the countries which resettled the highest number of refugees were Sweden, Germany, Italy, and Norway, as of 2022.

                    The process of being resettled in the UK can take many months, from start to finish. It is a process which begins with being granted refugee status by the UNHRC and extends to the refugee’s arrival in the UK, all of which takes considerable time.

                    Once someone has been selected for resettlement in the UK and has been found accommodation, they can generally expect to travel to the UK within 6-8 weeks of that point.

                    After resettlement, refugees may find that they experience a language barrier or challenges adjusting to the new cultural environment. However, support is available to help with integration to UK life. You can discuss any difficulties which you might be having with either your caseworker or with the community group which is supporting your resettlement.

                    Resettling in the UK is a long process and integration may bring its challenges. Many refugees will have experienced long and traumatic journeys and may need extra assistance in settling into UK life. Local charities, community groups, and the relevant local authorities all work together in an attempt to make the transition as smooth as possible.

                    Refugees who are not selected for resettlement may choose to remain in their country of asylum. Others may continue their journey onwards in an attempt to reach other countries such as the UK or the US. However, doing so often involves very dangerous crossing routes and significant risk to life.

                    In some cases, refugees may choose to return to their country of origin and/or the country from which they were seeking refuge, even if it is not yet safe to do so.