* Source: ICMC Europe, Welcome to Europe! A Comprehensive Guide to Resettlement, 2013

    The Welcome to Europe country chapter on Spain is available here for download.

    Resettlement Quota & Actors

    Pledges under the new resettlement programme as of 7 March 2018: 2,250

    Number of persons resettled under the 50,000 scheme: 64 as of 7 March 2018.

    Pledges under the 20 July 2015 resettlement scheme: 1,449. 1,360 persons were resettled as of 7 March 2018.

    Number of persons resettled under the EU-Turkey Statement: 440, between March 2016 and 7 March 2018.

    Pledges under the national resettlement programme (2016): N/a

    Number of persons resettled in 2016: 375

    Nationality: Syria (375)

    For further information, please visit the website of the Immigration Portal – Ministry of Employment and Social Security.


    DISCLAIMER: While every effort is made to ensure that information on this website is accurate and up-to-date, it should be noted that the information in this section is largely based on ICMC Europe’s 2013 Welcome to Europe! A comprehensive Guide to Resettlement.

    Start of ad-hoc or pilot programme: 2011-12

    Current quota: Up to 100 persons per year

    Main national actors: Ministry of the Interior (MoI), Spanish Office for Asylum and Refugees (OAR), Ministry of Employment and Social Security (ESS), Spanish Red Cross, ACCEM, Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR).

    Resettlement numbers

    Year Arrrivals Nationality ⇒ Country of Asylum of largest groups
    2013-14 anticipated 30 To be determined (anticipated to be in line with the Common EU priorities for 2013)
    2011-12 80 Eritrean, Sudanese, Somali ⇒ Tunesian


    UNHCR Submission categories considered for resettlement

    X Legal and physical protection needs

    X Survivors of violence and torture

    X Medical Needs

    X Women and girls at risk  

    Family reunification

    X Children and adolescents at risk

    X Lack of foreseeable alternative solutions

    UNHCR Priority levels accepted (with sub-quota where applicable)

    Emergency max. 7 days between submission and resettlement

    Urgent  within 6 weeks between submission and resettlement

    X Normal  maximum 12 months between submission and resettlement

    Spain's resettlement programme

    Legal basis & Background

    Spain has been involved in ad-hoc resettlement since 1999, when it received Kosovo Albanians under the UNHCR Humanitarian Evacuation Programme.

    A legal basis for resettlement was introduced in the 2009 Law on the Right to Asylum and Subsidiary Protection (Law 12/2009, October 30th) which sets out the annual adoption of a national resettlement programme by the government (Law 12/2009, First Additional Provision) that determines the annual quota and priorities. The national resettlement programme is to be adopted in close consultation with UNHCR and other relevant international organisations.

    The first National Resettlement Programme was adopted on the 7th October of 2011 by the Council of Ministries, authorising the resettlement of a maximum of 100 refugees in response to the UNHCR’s Global Resettlement Solidarity Initiative calling for states to resettle refugees ex-Libya, from Shousha refugee camp in Tunisia. 80 refugees were subsequently selected and arrived in Spain in July 2012.

    On December 28th 2012, the Council of Ministries approved a second resettlement programme, authorising the resettlement of up to 30 refugees during 2013-14. The programme will again focus on particularly vulnerable refugee families, women and minors.

    Resettlement criteria

    Basic criteria

    A refugee must be recognised as such according to the 2009 Law on the Right to Asylum and Subsidiary Protection, based on the criteria set out in the 1951 Convention on Refugee Status.

    Refugees can also be accepted for resettlement for reasons of vulnerability.

    Criteria related to integration

    Spain applies broad selection criteria related to integration potential and capacity, comparing the needs of the resettled refugees with assessments of resources available both within the resettlement programme and in other programmes or services resettled refugees can access.

    Identification & Selection

    The national authority responsible for asylum is the Office of Asylum and Refugees (OAR) within the General Sub-Direction of Asylum of the Ministry of the Interior. UNHCR submits cases for initial screening by to OAR, and all pre-selected cases are interviewed during selection missions. The Ministry of Employment and Social Security (ESS) participate in selection missions and are responsible for assessing integration potential and capacity.

    The first selection mission took place in June 2012 in Shousha camp in Tunisia, where refugees were interviewed by both OAR and ESS. After the selection mission, cases were referred to the Inter-ministerial Commission for Asylum for final decision-making. For the first caseload from Shousha, the processing time was approximately 3 months between submission and final decision, and refugees arrived in Spain in July 2012.

    Refugee Status, Permanent Residency & Citizenship

    On arrival in Spain, resettled refugees immediately receive refugee status or subsidiary protection, including all the rights and benefits detailed in Spanish asylum law. They are issued with an identity card and travel and work permits. Resettled refugees, as all beneficiaries of international protection in Spain, are granted five-year permanent residence in the country.

    After a period of five years of legal residency, those granted refugee status can apply for Spanish citizenship. For beneficiaries of other types of international protection, the required period of residency is ten years.

    Family reunification

    Refugees in Spain, including resettled refugees, can apply for family members to join them. Besides the married partners, children under 18 and parents of children under 18, other family members who are eligible for family reunification include are unmarried partners, parents and other family members who are dependent on the sponsor upon proof that they were already living together in the country of origin. The Spanish legislation recognises the right to maintain family unity through both family reunification and the extension of international protection to family members who do not individually meet protection criteria. Family reunification is not included in the resettlement quota.

    Resettlement in Practice

    Linking Phases

    How is information transferred between selection and reception of refugees in order to prepare for their arrival?

    During the 2012 selection mission, representatives of ESS used a prepared 'social file' to collect information on particular refugee needs. The files were shared with organisations managing reception centres (see 'Reception' below) to support preparation of appropriate reception and integration measures.


    Cultural orientation: ESS provided refugees selected for resettlement with a single two-hour pre-departure CO, during the selection mission, covering the reception and integration processes of the Spanish resettlement programme, social benefits and employment. Participating refugees were given the opportunity to raise questions.

    Medical exam:IOM carried out 'fit-to-fly medical exams (ahead of full medical examinations at the reception centres in Spain).

    Travel arrangements: The reception at the airport was headed by the General Director for Interior Policy, the Deputy Director for Asylum (OAR) and the Deputy Director for Integration (ESS). The team that took part in the selection mission in Tunisia, representatives of the centres and entities responsible for their reception in Spain, and representatives of UNHCR and IOM also participated in the reception of the resettled refugees at the airport.

    Integration in Practice


    Resettled refugees, like asylum seekers in Spain, are first received at reception centres called 'Centros de Acogida a Refugiados' (CARs). CARs are directed by ESS and managed either by ESS directly or by the NGOs ACCEM, CEAR and the Spanish Red Cross under contract with ESS. Resettled refugees stay in the centres for a period of 6-12 months, with the final length of stay dependent on the individual profiles and vulnerabilities of each refugee.

    Reception centres are used to provide resettled refugees with the opportunity to adjust to life in Spain before living independently in the community, and an individual integration programme is established for each refugee during their stay at the centre.

    Placement Policies

    ESS is responsible for the placement of resettled refugees, and initially allocates refugees to reception centres based on individual refugee profiles and the number of available places. After their stay in the reception centre, refugees move into individual housing in the same municipality where the reception centre is located. Refugees can only receive integration assistance and financial support in the municipality they are initially assigned to, but are not prevented from moving to other regions if they would like to.

    Integration services & Support

    Length: Maximum 2 years

    In Spain, the seventeen Autonomous Communities (regional governments) are responsible for providing integration services and support, including housing, education, employment, healthcare, and civic and social orientation. Spanish municipalities are not responsible for refugee reception, although in some instances collaborate with the reception centres located in their constituencies by providing access to municipal services that will facilitate refugees integration.

    National government provides financial support for the integration of refugees, including resettled refugees, for a period of two years. Integration services for refugees are mainstreamed into regional services for all immigrants, and each region establishes the quantity and the level of accessibility of its services in accordance with national guidelines and objectives. This may include connecting groups and individuals at risk of social exclusion to specialist services provided by NGOs. ESS decides the annual financial amount that each refugee will receive, based on family size, age, vulnerability and other needs. Financial support is received by refugees as pocket money when they live in the reception centre and a monthly allowance to cover the costs of rent and living expenses after they move to municipalities. Financial support is received for the first 6 months in the municipality, after which it is phased out. Refugees can apply for an extension of the financial assistance if they have particular special needs or vulnerabilities, but the allowance can only be paid for a maximum of two years after their arrival.

    Use of the European Refugee Fund (ERF)

    Persons resettled using 2012 ERF funding

    X Persons resettled under a Regional Protection Programme

    Unaccompanied minors

    Women and children at risk; particularly from psychological physical or sexual violence or exploitation

    Persons with serious medical needs that can only be addressed through resettlement

    Pledges made to resettle under ERF specific categories for 2013

    X Persons resettled from a country or region designated for the implementation of a Regional Protection Programme

    Women and children at risk

    Unaccompanied minors

     Survivors of torture and violence

    Persons with serious medical needs that can only be addressed through resettlement

    Persons in need of emergency resettlement or urgent resettlement for legal or physical protection needs

    Pledges made to resettle under ERF resettlement common EU priorities for 2013
    Spain did not pledge under the common EU priorities for 2013.


    Spain first received resettled refugees in 2012, and no evaluations of the Spanish resettlement have yet been completed.

    Strengths & Challenges


    • The implementation of a national resettlement programme for 2012, and the plans to implement a further programme in 2013-14, demonstrates a strong political commitment to resettlement in Spain. This is despite the ongoing effects of the financial and economic crisis, which has impacted particularly heavily on the Spanish economy.
    • Integration programmes for applicants and beneficiaries of international protection in Spain are implemented through strong partnership between central and regional governments and NGOs.


    • Spain is facing an uncertain economic and financial situation, now and for the future, with subsequent budgetary reductions for social services are and increasingly limited employment opportunities. Refugees resettled to Spain are therefore likely to experience challenges in their integration and settlement, and it is feared that many refugees will become dependent on social welfare in the longer term.

    New developments

    In order to exchange experiences and address challenges in the integration process of the refugees resettled in 2012, national stakeholder meetings were organised gathering together national authorities, NGOs, regional/local authorities and other relevant actors. Additionally, three working sessions with resettled refugees are planned in order to facilitate their participation in the ‘participatory diagnosis of the refugees during their resettlement process in Spain.’