Resettlement is a lifeline for refugees in need of international protection and remains one of IOM's largest activity.

Resettlement provides refugees with a durable solution and demonstrates international solidarity and responsibility-sharing. For over 70 years, IOM has played a key role in global resettlement and has been responsible for the safe and dignified movement of refugees and other vulnerable persons in need. Providing essential support to States in resettling refugees and other humanitarian entrants is a fundamental purpose for IOM.

Since 2004, IOM UK has played a crucial role in ensuring the safe arrival of refugees and migrants travelling to the UK through the government’s resettlement schemes and family reunion pathways. 

To-date, we assisted over 32,000 refugees with resettlement to the United Kingdom including unaccompanied and separated children, as well as assisting in family reunification. This was achieved through comprehensive support and the facilitation of safe movement for every refugee resettled as well as integration support to the receiving communities.

UK Resettlement Scheme

The UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS) started in March 2021. The scheme has opened up pathways for refugees in vulnerable situation from all around the world, beyond the previous geographical focus on the Middle East and North Africa. Since the beginning of this scheme, IOM UK successfully supported the safe and dignified resettlement of 1,882 refugees.

Working closely with the  UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the UK government, Local Authorities, integration partners in the UK, and IOM missions across the world, IOM supports UK-bound refugees throughout their resettlement journey across our five main areas:  

  • Case management   
  • Medical health assessments 
  • Visa & documentation assistance 
  • Movement management and operations 
  • Pre-departure cultural orientation

Pre-departure cultural orientation better prepares refugees for life in the United Kingdom on what to expect socially and culturally, and supports their settlement and integration into host communities. Interactive orientation classes are delivered by  cultural mediators who deliver the training based on a curriculum developed in partnership with local authorities and previously resettled refugees, and which is tailored for both adults and children.

Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme 

The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) provides a safe and legal way for some of the most vulnerable and at-risk people from Afghanistan to come to the United Kingdom and rebuild their lives. The government has committed to welcoming up to 20,000 people who are at risk through the ACRS.

IOM UK plays a leading role in supporting the UK’s Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) Pathway 2 and Pathway 3 which were launched in 2022.

  • Pathway 2 prioritises vulnerable refugees who have already left Afghanistan and who are referred by UNHCR based on an assessment of protection needs and vulnerabilities.
  • Pathway 3 supports eligible at-risk Afghans from three specific groups: British Council contractors, Garda World contractors, and Chevening scholarship alumni. IOM in close coordination with  the UK Government will support the resettlement of eligible Afghans and their family members through pre-departure preparations and at every step of the resettlement process. 

Family Reunification  

IOM UK has partnered with the British Red Cross (BRC) on the Family Reunion Travel Assistance Project (FRTA) and since 2011 has helped over 15,000 people to reunite with their families in the UK. The project helps with travel and other related costs for family members abroad who are already in possession of ‘Family Reunion’ visas and their UK sponsors that need financial and logistical support. While BRC funds the project and provides direct advice to UK sponsors on their eligibility for this service, IOM supports family members abroad to safely organise their travel to the UK and provides medical escorts and assistance for unaccompanied children as needed. Nine out of 10 of those assisted to date have been women and children joining their husbands and fathers in the UK.  

Previous resettlement schemes

Between 2014 and 2021 IOM UK supported the resettlement of 20,000 refugees from Syria and other MENA countries

The Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) was launched in 2014 with the purpose of resettling Syrians fleeing the Syrian conflict and expanded in September 2015 with the target to resettle 20,000 Syrians in need of protection. The scope was then extended in 2017 to include refugees of other nationalities living in the Middle East and in North Africa, with the 20,000 target being met in February 2021 (delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and imposed travel restrictions). The Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) ran between 2016 and February 2021, during which IOM provided resettlement support to 1,838 at-risk refugee children.

Over 1,800 refugee children has benefit from IOM UK resettlement support between 2016 and 2021

The Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS) ran between 2016 and February 2021, during which IOM provided resettlement support to 1,838 at-risk refugee children.

Gateway Protection Programme

The Gateway Protection Programme offered a legal route for up to 750 refugees to resettle in the UK annually from 2004 until 2020, all of whom had been living in a protracted refugee situation for at least 5 years.

UK Mandate Resettlement Scheme

IOM also implements the UK Mandate Resettlement Scheme which is a global scheme and resettles recognised refugees with a close family member in the UK who can accommodate them, and this family member does not need to hold refugee status. 

Heathrow Airport transit assistance

In addition, IOM’s Heathrow Airport team provides transit assistance to refugees and migrants moving through the airport to ensure they reach their destination safely and smoothly. Since 2003, IOM has assisted over 161,215 migrants and refugees’ transit through London Heathrow.