Statement on Asylum Processing and Resettlement via UNHCR
UNHCR is aware of recent public statements suggesting that refugees wishing to apply for asylum in the United Kingdom should do so via the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ respective offices in their home region. UNHCR wishes to clarify that there is no mechanism through which refugees can approach UNHCR with the intention of seeking asylum in the U.K. There is no asylum visa or ‘queue’ for the United Kingdom.
UNHCR works in partnership with a number of governments on its global resettlement scheme. Resettlement is made available only for a very limited number of refugees who have left their own countries and been identified as particularly at risk in the countries where they initially sought refuge, and cannot integrate there or return home. It is the rare exception – available to fewer than 1% of refugees worldwide. There is no application process for resettlement – refugees at heightened risk are identified by UNHCR through our ongoing protection programmes in countries of asylum. Currently, new resettlement opportunities to the UK are minimal, and there is no quota for any nationality currently in place. Resettlement arrivals in the UK – mostly of cases referred pre-pandemic – currently stand at a rate of around 100 individuals arriving in the UK per month.
The overwhelming majority of refugees have no access to such pathways to the UK. The vast majority of refugees remain in countries neighbouring their own or apply for asylum elsewhere, with only a very small number seeking protection in the UK.
For further information, see UNHCR’s Fact Sheet on Safe and Regular Routes to the UK for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers here. For more detail on asylum in the UK and the Illegal Migration Bill, please see the explainer document here.