Migrants and Refugees

Complementary admissions for refugees reach record highs: UNHCR report

A new report jointly issued by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reveals a significant increase in the issuance of study, work, family reunification and sponsorship permits to refugees by OECD countries and Brazil.

According to the report, Safe Pathways for Refugees – released on Monday – nearly 215,000 permits were granted to individuals displaced by conflict and crises by 37 OECD countries and Brazil in 2022, an increase of about 38 per cent over 2021.

Approximately 156,000 permits were issued that year, while the figure in 2020 was about 127,000.

The report focused on entry permits provided to individuals from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Venezuela by OECD countries and Brazil.

Overall, Europe accounted for 56 per cent of all permits, with the Americas providing 39 per cent. Germany and Canada provided the largest numbers of work, study and family reunification entry permits to refugees from the seven nationalities covered.

Family reunification

Notably, family reunification permits constituted over 50 per cent of all permits issued in 2022, with work and study permits also showing a steady increase.

Ruven Menikdiwela, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, highlighted the significance of these complementary admissions in the context of rising global displacement.

“With most of the world’s refugees hosted in developing regions, these forms of complementary admissions to third countries can help better protect them, provide them with opportunities to contribute to their new communities, and ease pressures on over-stretched host countries.”

She also emphasized the importance of the family reunification permits, stating that alongside being a human right, it was encouraging to see that family reunification remains the most relied upon third-country solution.

Safe and legal pathways

The senior UNHCR official also commended the efforts of governments and partners to ensure refugees’ access to safe and lawful pathways, in alignment with the agency’s Roadmap 2030.

The roadmap envisions expanding third-country solutions to reach 2.1 million complementary admissions by 2030, with 35 per cent of this target achieved through progress made in 2022.

It also underscored the importance of improving data collection to inform policy decisions and enhance refugee inclusion in regular migration streams.

It urged sustained collaborative efforts among states and stakeholders to ensure refugees have access to safe and sustainable pathways towards rebuilding their lives.



  1. It’s truly heartening to see the rise in complementary admissions for refugees. Such measures are essential in offering displaced individuals a chance to rebuild their lives and contribute positively to their new communities. Kudos to the OECD countries and Brazil for taking steps towards a more inclusive and compassionate approach towards refugees.

  2. As an advocate for refugee rights, I am thrilled to see such a significant increase in complementary admissions for refugees. The statistics in the report truly highlight the progress being made in providing important opportunities for individuals displaced by conflict and crises. Family reunification being a major component is particularly heartwarming. Kudos to the OECD countries and Brazil for their efforts in this regard!

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