Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does the UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe do, and which countries do you cover?
The UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe, located in Stockholm, Sweden, covers Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden.
The role of the Representation is to monitor and support these countries in their implementation of the 1951 Refugee Convention and related standards on international refugee protection contained in other international and European legal instruments. This includes monitoring that people wishing to seek asylum have access to these countries, and supporting the national asylum authorities to develop fair and efficient asylum procedures of high quality. It also includes work to make sure that asylum-seekers have access to quality legal assistance.
The Representation provides guidance on refugee and asylum law and policy to the governments in the countries covered, as well as to legal practitioners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and many others. Where appropriate, the Representation takes up cases and raises issues of concern with the relevant authorities, as well as providing training on a range of issues to those working with asylum-seekers and refugees.
In addition, the Representation can, in exceptional cases, intervene in court proceedings, that are precedent-setting for the international protection of refugees.
The Representation also advises authorities and NGOs on ways in which refugees who have been granted international protection and asylum can be helped to integrate into countries in the region.
2. Can the Representation for Northern Europe grant me refugee status?
No. UNHCR is not part of the national asylum procedure in any of the countries covered by the UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe. Therefore, the Representation does not accept asylum applications and does not make decisions about who is a refugee. This is the responsibility of the asylum authorities in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden.
Instead, the Representation’s role is to support the national asylum authorities to develop fair and efficient asylum procedures of high quality and make sure that asylum-seekers have access to quality legal assistance through independent lawyers and NGOs.
3. Can the Representation for Northern Europe give me legal advice?
Due to the nature of UNHCR’s role in Northern Europe, and limited available resources, the Representation cannot provide legal advice to individual applicants regarding, for example, asylum or family reunification.
Instead, the Representation’s role is to support the development of national asylum systems that will provide, through independent lawyers and NGOs, quality legal advice to asylum-seekers.
4. My asylum application has been rejected by the Asylum / Migration / Determining Authority and by the court / appeal board. Can the Representation for Northern Europe help me?
UNHCR is not part of the national asylum procedure in any of the countries covered by the UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe. The Representation cannot therefore overturn negative decisions or stop deportations.
Your legal representative should help you with your asylum application. If your lawyer needs assistance with legal interpretation or country of origin information, he or she can contact the UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe, if you agree.
If you do not have a lawyer representing you, one of the following NGOs, may be able to assist you:
Estonian Human Rights Centre (Eesti Inimõiguste Keskus)
Address: Parda 4 (3rd floor), 10151 Tallinn, Estonia
Telephone: (+372) 644 5148
E-mail: [email protected]
Swedish Refugee Advice Center (Rådgivningsbyrån för asylsökande och flyktingar)
Telephone: (+46) 0200-880066 (Monday to Wednesday from 9.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m.)
E-mail: [email protected]
If you are under 18 years old:
Barnens Asylrättscentrum (Rådgivningsbyrån för asylsökande och flyktingar)
Telephone: (+46) 0200-751703 (Thursdays from 09.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m.)
E-mail: [email protected]
5. I would like confirmation that I have been registered with UNHCR in another country. Can the Representation for Northern Europe help me?
The Representation does not have a global database of people registered with UNHCR, but can send an inquiry to the UNHCR office where you were registered and ask for confirmation. If you would like the Representation to try and obtain a confirmation for you, please ask your lawyer to send us the following information, preferably by email ([email protected]) with the subject: “Confirmation”:
- Full name
- Date and place of birth
- Country of origin
- Registration number from UNHCR and/or the national authorities
- Copy of identity card and/or ID-number
- Date of registration (arrival at the refugee camp)
- Name of the refugee camp
- Duration of stay at the camp
- Father’s name
- Mother’s name
- Number of family members at the time of registration
- Civil status at the time of registration
- Phone number at the time of registration
In order to release any confidential information, UNHCR will need the power of attorney from your lawyer.
6. I have a relative who is a refugee or an asylum-seeker in another country. I would like to help them. What can I do?
In order to receive information and advice, your relative should contact the UNHCR office in the country where he or she is currently staying and explain what he or she would like help with.
Please visit UNHCR’s global webpage and browse for the country in which your relative would like to contact UNHCR. On that page, you will find the contact information for UNHCR in the country.
7. I have a relative residing in another country. Can the UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe help my relative come to Denmark / Estonia / Finland / Iceland / Latvia / Lithuania / Norway / Sweden through family reunification?
If your relative is your spouse or cohabitant, or an unmarried child under 18 years of age, he/she/they can apply for family reunification. (Children over 18 years can apply for family reunification but it is more difficult to have the application accepted as the policy concerning family reunification is quite strict).
An application for family reunification must be initiated by the relative through a diplomatic representation abroad (An embassy, or in some instances, a consulate). It is then the Asylum/Migration authority of the country the person has applied to, that decides on applications for family reunification.
To obtain more information regarding the criteria and procedure for family reunification in the Northern European countries, please visit the websites of the respective Asylum/Migration Authorities (select relevant country below).
Finnish Immigration Service (Migri)
8. Can the UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe help my relatives – who are refugees in another country – to be resettled in Denmark / Estonia / Finland / Iceland / Latvia / Lithuania / Norway / Sweden?
No. Submissions for resettlement are made from the country in which your family member/relative is living as a refugee. UNHCR in that country is responsible for determining the need for resettlement and for making a decision as to whether or not a case should be submitted for resettlement. UNHCR identifies individuals for resettlement in accordance with the criteria defined in the Resettlement Handbook.
It is then the asylum/migration authorities in the resettlement countries who decide which cases to accept for resettlement. This decision is, amongst other things, based on the resettlement countries’ allocation of their resettlement quota/places.
There is no general right to be resettled, it is the right of the resettlement countries to decide who and how many refugees they will accept for resettlement.
If you have relatives who are registered as refugees with UNHCR in another country, advise them to approach the local UNHCR office and inform them that they have relatives in one of the Nordic countries.
For more information on resettlement and how it works, please see UNHCR’s resettlement webpage. UNHCR also has a brochure with Frequently Asked Questions about resettlement.
9. I have come to Denmark / Estonia / Finland / Iceland / Latvia / Lithuania / Norway / Sweden as a resettled refugee, but I would like to go to another country. Can the UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe help me?
No. The Representation cannot assist refugees to relocate from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, or Sweden to other countries.
10. I was told by an embassy that I can be resettled to another country if UNHCR confirms that I am a refugee. Can the Representation for Northern Europe assist me with this?
No. Embassies issue standard letters with instructions on how to apply for resettlement and certain types of visas. However, in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden, UNHCR does not determine refugee status, and can therefore not refer individuals for resettlement.
11. I am applying for the refugee sponsorship scheme of Canada and I need a document issued by UNHCR stating that I am a refugee.
Please note that the UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe cannot issue refugee certificates or other types of documents pertaining to refugee status in our region. Should you have any other queries related to this matter, please visit the Canadian Migration Authorities’ website through the following link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/
12. I need an attestation proving that I was a refugee in the Rafha Camp in Saudi Arabia, in order to apply for compensation from the Government of Iraq. Can the UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe help me?
If your request for the attestation is in support of your application to the Government of Iraq’s compensation scheme, please be informed that UNHCR is no longer in a position to provide information or assist you.
13. How do I remove personal data from the Schengen Information System (SIS)
Regarding the removal of personal data from the Schengen Information System (SIS) in connection to your application for asylum:
The UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe is not part of any of the Nordic countries’ asylum procedures, and it not possible for us to influence the removal of data from the SIS. As such, we cannot assist you in the matter further, but hope that the following information can be of use.
We are aware that a number of persons have been registered in the SIS in Greece. UNHCR has received information that the Greek Police, after an intervention by the UNHCR Office in Greece (UNHCR Greece), has issued an order to:
1) Suspend the registration of newcomers from Syria after the suspension of their deportation, and,
2) Automatically delete the personal data of Syrians who have already been recorded in the SIS, before this order was issued. UNCHR Greece has observed that there have been delays in some Police Directorates in removing people who have already been registered.
UNHCR Greece is currently following up the implementation of the order, and hopes that the problem will soon be resolved. In the meantime, should you want to seek legal assistance to remove your registration in the SIS, you can contact the following non-governmental organizations, which provide legal aid to refugees and asylum-seekers in Greece. Due to a heavy workload, they may not be able to respond fully to each individual request.
14. I want to cancel my monthly donation.
In Denmark: If your monthly contribution is managed by UNHCR in Denmark, please send an email to [email protected] for information on your donations.
In Sweden: If your monthly contribution is managed by Sweden for UNHCR, please visit their website for information on your donations: https://sverigeforunhcr.se/givarservice.
15. How can I contact the UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe for advice and information?
If you could not find an answer in this FAQ, please send us a detailed email at [email protected]
Please note that we are not in a position to receive spontaneous visits. Kindly send your inquires by email or call us during our phone hours;
Tuesday – Thursday, 9.30-12.00
Please include following information in your email:
Date of birth
Where you currently live
Country of origin
Who your request concerns
What your concern is