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

    The Welcome to Europe Country Chapter on United Kingdom is available here for download.

    Resettlement Quota & Actors

    Pledges under the new resettlement programme as of 7 March 2018: 7,800

    Pledges under the 20 July 2015 resettlement scheme: 2,200. 2,200 persons were resettled as of 7 March 2018.

    Number of persons resettled under the EU-Turkey Statement: N/a

    Pledges under the national resettlement programme (2016[A1]):

    Number of persons resettled in 2016 (rounded): 5,180

    Nationality: Syria (4,370), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (220), Iraq (140), Ethiopia (140), Somalia (120), Sudan (110), South Sudan (40), and Eritrea (35).

    For further information, please visit the website of the UK Home Office (Visas and Immigration).

     [A1]The UK pledged to resettle 20,000 persons by 2020 under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), which was launched in January 2014 and expanded in September 2015. The VPRS is additional to the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme, through which the UK plans to resettle 3,000 children, the Gateway Protection Programme, which provides up to 750 resettlement places per year, and the Mandate Refugee Programme, which does not foresee an annual quota. Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme: Guidance for local authorities and partners, Home Office, July 2017.


    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 annual quota: 2004

    Current quota: 750 (The UK programme covers a fiscal year - the current quota covers the period from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015)

    Main national actors: Home Office, Horton Housing Association, local authorities in the Yorkshire & Humber and Greater Manchester regions, Refugee Action and British Refugee Council

    Resettlement numbers




    Nationality Country of Asylum of largest groups

    Ethnic and other minorities (if applicable)

    2014-15   671

    Somalis ⇒ Kenya

    Iraqis ⇒ Syria, Jordan, Lebanon






    Somalis ⇒ Kenya

    Iraqis ⇒ Syria, Jordan, Lebanon





    Bhutanese ⇒ Nepal

    Congolese ⇒ Tanzania

    Iraqis ⇒ Jordan

    Ethiopia ⇒ Kenya

    Sudanese ⇒ Egypt

    Eritean⇒ ÜEgypt

    Ethiopian ⇒ Egypt

    Somali⇒ Kenya





    Bhutanese ⇒ Nepal

    Somali ⇒ Kenya

    Iraqis ⇒ Syria & Jordan

    Ethiopians ⇒ Yemen

    Somali ⇒ Yemen





    Iraqis ⇒ Syria & Jordan, Bhutanese ⇒ Nepal
    Somali ⇒ Kenya

    Burmese ⇒ Bangladesh





    Iraqis, Palestinians (ex-Iraq) ⇒ Syria & Jordan Congolese ⇒ Burmese ⇒ Thailand




    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

    Children and adolescents at risk

    X Lack of foreseeable alternative solutions

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

    Emergency maximum 7 days between submission and resettlement

    Urgent   maximum 6 weeks between submission and resettlement

    X Normal   maximum 12 months between submission and resettlement


    The UK's Resettlement Programme

    Legal Basis & Background

    The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act (2002) provides the general framework for asylum and refugee status eligibility.  The UK’s resettlement programme is referred to as the Gateway Protection Programme (GPP), and the programme and legal framework for international collaboration and funding for resettlement are discussed in Section 59 of this Act.  Although the GPP is the primary focus of this chapter, it should be noted that resettlement is also organised under the separate Mandate Refugee Scheme (MRS), under which UNHCR refers to the Home Office an unspecified number of refugees in need of resettlement who have connections to the UK through family or historical links.  Mandate refugees do not benefit from the GPP integration programme but do receive the same benefits as other refugees in the UK.

    Resettlement Criteria

    Basic criteria

    • A refugee must be recognised as such according to the 1951 Refugee Convention
    • A refugee must be submitted for resettlement by UNHCR

    Criteria relating to integration


    Identification and Selection

    Submissions for resettlement are made exclusively by UNHCR.  A number of selection missions are carried out by the Home Office every year.  The UK began considering refugees referred for resettlement on a dossier basis from 2011-12, when 150 Bhutanese refugees from Nepal were accepted.  All resettlement decisions are made by the Home Office Refugee Team. Processing time from submissions to final decision can vary, but the overall aim is for refugees to arrive in the UK within 6 months of a selection mission.

    Refugee Status, Permanent Residency & Citizenship

    Refugees resettled to the UK are granted refugee status with indefinite leave to remain, unlike other refugees who are granted refugee status with 5 years limited leave. 

    After 5 years residency, resettled refugees may apply for UK citizenship.  All applicants for citizenship must meet the 'knowledge of language and life in the UK' requirement.  Those with sufficient demonstrable English language ability can take the ‘Life in the UK’ citizenship test that includes questions on topics such as legal rights and responsibilities, history and customs of the UK, and is set at a level equivalent to the national English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Entry Level 3 standard.  If the applicant’s English ability is below this level, he/she can obtain an ESOL qualification by taking an accredited course combining ESOL and citizenship.  Those granted citizenship must attend a citizenship ceremony carried out by the local authority of the area in which they reside, at which they must swear allegiance to the Queen and undertake to uphold both democratic values and the laws of the UK.

    Family reunification

    Besides the 'nuclear' family (married partners, children under 18, parents of children under 18), other family members of refugees who are eligible for family reunification include:

    • Unmarried partners (including same-sex partners)
    • Other family members (in exceptional compelling and compassionate circumstances)

    Unlike other migrants, refugees are not required to evidence sufficient income or accommodation to meet the needs of family members joining them in the UK.

    Resettlement in Practice

    Linking Phases

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

    • Forwarding pertinent information from the Resettlement Registration Form (RRF) and Medical Health Assessments, and relevant information gathered at selection interviews, to integration providers and local and health authorities in the UK
    • Other: In some local authorities, NGOs have organised information sessions for local stakeholders on specific refugee groups prior to their arrival.  Cases are also assigned to caseworkers in advance


     Cultural Orientation: Home Office mission teams generally provide one-day cultural orientation programmes during selection missions in countries of asylum.

     Medical Exam: IOM pre-selection exams and fit-to-fly assessments.       

     Travel arrangements: IOM

    Integration in Practice


    Upon arrival, refugees are met at the airport by staff from one of the organisations providing integration support in the UK resettlement programme (with interpreters as required) who accompany them on travel to municipalities.  They are introduced to staff, and receive a basic induction to their new housing - including how to operate equipment in the home safely and who to contact in an emergency. Resettled refugees receive intensive orientation and advice from NGOs during the first 3-4 weeks after arrival.

    Placement policies

    Refugees travel directly to the local authority where placement has been arranged.  A total of 9 local authorities, 2 NGOs and one specialist housing and support organisation are contracted by the Home Office to deliver the UK resettlement programme.  These service providers were selected through an open and competitive tender exercise (see 'Highlight', below).  The present GPP runs during the period 2011-14, via the following 3 grant agreements:

    • The North West Gateway Resettlement Partnership (Greater Manchester region) – 7 local authorities and the NGO Refugee Action, 470 refugees per year.
    • Sheffield City Council (Yorkshire & Humber region - cities of Sheffield and Hull) - 2 local authorities and the NGO British Refugee Council, 180 refugees per year.
    • Horton Housing Association (Yorkshire & Humber region - city of Bradford) – specialist housing and support organisation, 100 refugees per year.

    The GPP is funded by UK government and ERF covering pre-arrival, reception and integration costs (including 12 months specialist integration support and housing).  Welfare benefits, healthcare and education are also funded through the programme for the 12 months following arrival, again via ERF and national government funding but via separate individual contracts or funding arrangements with the competent authorities.

    Integration services & support

    A 12-month programme of integration support exclusively for resettled refugees, funded by the Home Office and implemented by the 2 specialist NGOs and housing/support organisation (Horton Housing Association) working on the 3 resettlement programmes operating in the UK (see above). 

    The refugee and their caseworker together agree a Personal Integration Plan (PIP) that sets out the refugee's needs and aspirations for the first 12 months of their stay into the UK.  NGOs serve as a liaison point for refugees, providing group information sessions and individual advice, and supporting refugees to access mainstream services including social welfare, education and training, healthcare and language-learning.  NGOs also promote integration by strengthening refugee communities, for example by assisting refugees to establish community organisations, participate in local events and initiatives.

    Housing is arranged by local authorities in the Greater Manchester and Sheffield-Hull programmes and Horton Housing in Bradford.  Housing is both social housing and that owned by private landlords. Housing providers are also responsible for supporting the refugee-landlords relationship for the first 12 months after arrival, (known as 'tenancy support'), including ensuring landlords maintain properties to an adequate standard. In the Greater Manchester programme, temporary housing is arranged for the first 8-12 months after arrival, after which refugees receive support from the local authority to find more permanent housing in the same local authority area (known as 'move-on support'). Language classes are not funded by the GPP.  Refugees may register for mainstream ESOL classes in their local areas, and may be charged to attend if they are not registered as active job seekers.

    Long-term integration :

    As the GPP integration programme is solely for a period of 12 months, there is a lack of available longitudinal data on the long-term integration outcomes for refugees resettled to the UK.  There is also no national integration programme for non-resettled refugees in the UK, and a subsequent lack of comparative data for long-term integration outcomes across refugee groups.  The UK Home Office is planning a longitudinal research exercise focused on long-term employment outcomes for refugees resettled to the UK.

    INTEGRATION IN FOCUS: Housing assistance in Greater Manchester

    In Greater Manchester, a partnership of 7 local authorities provides housing for refugees being resettled through the Gateway Protection Programme.  Resettled refugees are given tenancies of up to 12 months in one of the participating local authority areas.

    Refugees are informed on arrival that they have approximately 12 months to settle in and learn about their new towns before deciding where they would like to live.  During months 6-9 of their initial 12-month tenancy, the local authority that received the refugees assists them to find more permanent 'move-on' housing, either via social housing or in the private rented sector.  The refugees receive support to 'navigate' housing and associated social welfare and legal systems.  They can evaluate their housing options based on factors such as the communities, amenities or services they want to be near, and most refugees choose to move to housing in, or close to, the area where they were first placed.

    The initial housing is then 'recycled' - or used for future resettlement arrivals. This model gives refugees initial stability on arrival, and the ability to make informed choices about the location of longer term housing on much the same basis as other local residents. GPP support staff also becomes familiar with the housing and neighbourhoods where resettled refugees are initially placed, and are able to invest in long-term, sustainable development and awareness-raising work with local communities.  The model also enables the regional local authority partnership to accommodate resettled refugees on an ongoing basis without placing cumulative demands on social housing stock, or carrying out a housing procurement exercise for every arrival group.


    Use of the European Refugee Fund (ERF)

    Persons resettled using 2012 ERF funding

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

     Unaccompanied minors

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

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

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

    X 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
    The UK did not pledge to resettle under the 2013 common EU priorities.


    HIGHLIGHT: Delivering local resettlement programmes

    Funding for the GPP is a mixture of government and ERF funding channeled through the Home Office.  From 2004-10, the Home Office commissioned both single organisations and consortiums to deliver local resettlement programmes on an annual basis.  Commissioning was via individual grant agreements with the Home Office that specified the number of refugees to be received each year period and the Programme activities.  In 2010, to bring the programme into line with wider governmental public procurement practice, the Home Office introduced an open tendering process for the delivery of the GPP for a three-year period during 2011-14, and issued 3 grant agreements for programmes in Sheffield (and Hull), Bradford and Greater Manchester.   The agreements specify the number of refugees each programme will receive every year, totalling the UK's annual quota commitment of 750.  The 3 grant recipients provide reports for both the UK and ERF funding streams, conforming to the different requirements of each.   IOM were awarded the grant agreement for the pre-arrival element of GPP (medical checks, pre-departure Cultural Orientation and travel).  At the time of writing, arrangements for issuing a new call for tender for GPP after April 2014 have not been finalised.



    • An evaluation of the GPP resettlement programme, commissioned from Sheffield Hallam University by the Home Office, was published in January 2011.  Carried out in mid-2010, the study evaluated the programme with regard to the experiences of a group of 146 Rohingya (Burmese), Iraqi and Congolese (DRC) refugees resettled to 6 different areas of the UK during 2009.  The study used a largely qualitative methodology, conducting questionnaire research, interviews and focus groups with resettled refugees, and individual interviews with agencies implementing the programme.  Findings highlighted the widely varying levels of satisfaction with the programme among both nationality groups and those resettled to different areas, and recommended that integration support be adapted to meet the needs and capacities of specific refugee groups..  Other key findings included how a lack of access to language tuition had limited integration, how integration support providers acted as mediators between refugees and mainstream services, and how volunteering and educationhad benefited the socioeconomic integration of resettled adults.
    • Approximately three times a year, the various government and civil society actors involved in GPP come together at the national Gateway Forum. These meetings facilitate sharing of information on policy and strategic issues related to resettlement and sharing best practice

    Strengths & Challenges


    • 3-year agreements for the delivery of the national GPP programme facilitate easier planning at the local level, and provide a degree of transparency in the allocation of resources for local programmes.
    • Strong partnerships between exist between national government and the local authorities and civil society organisations delivering GPP, facilitated by the national Gateway Forum and regular dialogue between actors


    • The GPP does not have a specific language-learning component, and resettled refugees must therefore access mainstream ESOL classes.  The capacity of ESOL providers can be very limited in some locations, , and classes suited to refugees' educational ability and experiences may not always be available.  Additionally, resettled refugees that arrive toward the end of the academic year or during the summer break may experience longer waiting times before language-learning can commence.

    The structuring of the GPP programme according to the UK financial year presents challenges for UNHCR to submit cases within the required programme period.

    New developments

    • The UK fulfilled its resettlement quota for the first time in 2011-12.
    • In June 2010, responsibility for national integration policy was transferred from the Home Office to the Department for Communities & Local Government. A new national integration strategy targets all third country nationals and existing migrant communities in the UK, and does not specifically mention integration for refugees.
    • From July 2012, new biometric residence permits are issued to all resettled refugees.  This new identification can make accessing welfare benefits, employment and other entitlements more straightforward, although submitting biometric data on arrival is not possible in every resettlement location,can be time-consuming and prevent refugees' initial access to subsistence and other entitlements.

    Resources & News


    UNHCR Resettlement Handbook, United Kingdom Country Chapter, June 2013 revision [Read more]