Ukraine is a destination and transit country for persons with international protection needs as well as economic migrants seeking to enter the European Union. Since 2011, Ukraine has offered two forms of protection to those who have fled persecution and war in their own countries and have sought asylum in Ukraine: refugee status and complementary protection. However, the refugee recognition rate is low.
While some asylum seekers have managed to learn Ukrainian, find a job, start a business and integrate, others have encountered challenges in integrating.
As of mid-2020, Ukraine hosted 2,218 recognized refugees and persons with complementary protection and around 2,300 asylum-seekers. The population is very diverse, including persons from 60 countries. The population includes a disproportionate number of single men of working age. Among refugees and asylum-seekers, 23% are women and girls. Until the start of the conflict in 2014, an average of 1,500 persons per year applied for asylum in Ukraine. Most entered the country irregularly through the eastern border with the Russian Federation. The number dropped sharply after the conflict. In 2019, the number of new asylum applicants increased by 11%, but remained low at 1,036 persons. New applications decreased to 243 persons in the first half of 2020, due to COVID-related border closures and the closure of asylum offices. The recognition rate in 2019 was 21%, but was comparatively low for persons from refugee-producing countries such as Syria and Afghanistan. Based on a re-opening of borders and more consistent working conditions of asylum offices in 2021, UNHCR expects there to be 2,800 asylum-seekers in Ukraine as of the end of 2021. For additional details and updated figures, please check the Thematic Update.
Refugee Status and Complementary Protection
There are two types of protection status in Ukraine granted by the State Migration Service of Ukraine: refugee status and complementary protection status. Asylum seekers granted with either protection status have to abide by various government regulations and procedures. Details can be found here.
How to apply for asylum in Ukraine
Details on asylum procedure in Ukraine can be found here (in relevant languages):
How to apply for asylum in Ukraine
Asylum Procedures in Ukraine:
To apply for a refugee status or status of a person in need of complementary protection in Ukraine, one must fill out an Asylum Application Form and Questionnaire that can be downloaded in the following languages:
In the application, one need to explain why he/she fears to return to the country of origin or the country of permanent residence.
If a person is accompanied by family, every family member who is over eighteen years old should submit a separate application. Information on children below the age of eighteen should be included in the application of a parent or another legal representative of the child.
In addition, it is important that the person applying makes a photocopy of the Asylum Application Form and the Questionnaire for future reference.
Asylum seekers and refugees, who are registered with UNHCR Partners rendering legal assistance, may approach UNHCR partners rendering social assistance for social, medical, and welfare assistance.
Additional information on provision of such assistance may be found here:
- Annexes to this document: Monthly subsistence allowance (MSA) vulnerability criteria; Individual protection assistance to recognized refugees, asylum seekers and stateless (IPA-RAS SOPs) by UNHCR social partners in Ukraine in response to COVID-19 pandemic; Annex_2_Amounts for different types of assistance_ENG;
- Индивидуальная помощь для признанных беженцев, искателей убежища и лиц без гражданства в Украине (РУС); Приложение 1_Критерии уязвимости для получения ежемесячной материальной помощи (РУС);Приложение_2_Размеры различных видов помощи (РУС)
Reception at the UNHCR Country Office in Kyiv
One of the roles of the UNHCR Representation in Ukraine is to provide free of charge legal and social services to persons wanting to apply for asylum. Only the Government of Ukraine can award refugee status or complementary protection and, therefore, legal rights in Ukraine.
UNHCR can only help in applying and supporting a case through these legal procedures. For this reason, it is essential that refugee status or complementary protection is applied for through the Ukrainian state authorities in charge of asylum.
Reception of persons of concern to UNHCR is normally done in the premises of the UNHCR NGO partners (format of the counselling or assistance provision depends on the current restrictions related to COVID-19 pandemic in certain regions of Ukraine). The UNHCR Country Office in Kyiv has specifically determined reception hours for counselling on individual requests (format of the counselling depends on the current restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kyiv). Details can be found here.
Contact details of other Legal and Social NGO partners of UNHCR around Ukraine can be found here.