Published: 17 Nov 2021  |  Category: Integration  |  Stage: We have welcomed a family

Immigration information

The refugees you support are likely to require immigration advice. We provide a general introduction to this in order for you to help refugees access local services.

The most important thing we can tell you is this: if you or members of the refugee family you are supporting are in need of immigration advice, you should consult a registered Immigration Adviser or Lawyer. You can identify an Immigration Adviser here.

These resources are designed to give you some idea of what to expect and provide a basic, general overview of issues related to immigration. They cannot be a substitute for regulated immigration advice based around the individual situation of the refugees you are supporting.

Our following resource on refugees wishing to return to their host country or country of origin was written in collaboration with UNHCR UK. 

Q: What is the Legal Status of a Refugee resettled through Community Sponsorship?

A: Refugees resettled through Community Sponsorship are resettled to the UK through the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS) and the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). On arrival, refugees under these schemes are issued with a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and are given Indefinite Leave to Remain. There are some families who arrived under previous rules and were given five years leave to remain. These families will need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, once they are eligible.

A child born in the UK to parents who have Indefinite Leave to Remain will automatically be given British citizenship. Read the latest in our following resource on guidance for families welcoming a baby.

Q: What is a Biometric Residence Permit?

A: A BRP is a permit which can be used as proof of identity, and to confirm the right to work or study in the UK, and the right to access any public services or benefits the family are entitled to. It is sent to a named person in your Community Sponsorship group who will pass this on to the family. The Home Office asks that groups pass the BRPs to the welcomed family within 24 hours of receiving them. Please note, BRPs are not sufficient documentation for travel.

More information on BRPs can be found on

If a family member loses their BRP, or has a change in their circumstances (such as getting married), they should report this as soon as possible to the Home Office.

If someone you support changes address, or has a change to their circumstances (such as separating from a partner), they do need to report this to the Home Office within three months of the change happening. This can be done through a change of circumstance form

You can find more information on BRPs in our following resource, changes to BRPs.

Q: What do I do if there is a problem with a Biometric Residence Permit?

A: BRPs sometimes arrive with names misspelled, incorrect dates of birth, or other errors. You should check BRPs for any inaccuracies and report a problem with a BRP within 10 days to the Home Office, otherwise you risk having to pay for a replacement.

Speak to your Home Office Contact Officer to report any issues and find out more information on how to report problems with a BRP here.

Q: Do refugees arrive with any documentation?

Refugees welcomed through resettlement will be given a Form for Affixing a Visa (FAV), or otherwise known as a Uniform Format Form (UFF), which is a paper travel document which they will arrive to the UK with.

The Home Office asks that families return the FAVs within one week of receiving the BRPs. The address to return the FAVs is: Resettlement Operations Arrivals Team, 6th Floor, Lunar House, 40 Wellesley Road, Croydon, CR9 2BY.

Instructions for the return of FAVs will be shared by the Home Office Arrivals Team with the Community Sponsorship group.

Q: How can refugees secure Indefinite Leave to Remain?

A: For families who have been resettled with five years leave to remain, they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILtR) after five years in the UK. According to the Home Office, you should apply during the last month of your current permission to be in the UK. More about applying for ILtR can be found on the website. The Home Office has provided advice for refugees and the process for them to follow when they have been in the UK for five years and when they will be required to apply for ILtR. 

Please note that the UK Resettlement Scheme Policy Statement from the Home Office indicates refugees arriving from November 2021 are given ILtR from arrival. 

Q: How can refugees become UK Citizens?

A: A person resettled through Community Sponsorship, and who has been given Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILtr) on arrival, will be able to apply for British citizenship once they have been in the UK for five years.

For someone who has been resettled to the UK and given five years leave to remain, they will need to first apply for ILtR. After having been granted ILtR, after 12 months of having ILtR status, they can then apply for British citizenship

Applying for citizenship has several requirements and a cost. More information about applying for citizenship can be found here.

It is worth also noting that some families may be eligible for fee waivers for citizenship applications for children who are under 18. You can find more information on the following website.

Q: Can family members be brought to the UK?

A: The UK’s rules around family reunification currently allows those with refugee or humanitarian protection status to apply to reunite with a spouse, partner or child under 18. Resettled refugees will be expected to have named their dependents on their resettlement application or to provide a reasonable explanation for the omission. More information about family reunion can be found here.

Family reunion is a very common question that those who have been resettled ask about. Family reunion is an entirely separate programme to resettlement, but understandably, the splitting of families will cause concern, distress and a halt on integration for the family who have arrived in the UK. You can access our resource on how to manage these conversations with the family you support here.

Q: Are refugees able to travel abroad?

A: Yes. However, it is important to emphasize that a BRP is not a travel document. Instead, refugees should apply to the Home Office for a Travel Document and check with the Embassy of the country they wish to travel to regarding applying for a visa. Please know that not all countries allow travel for Travel Document holders.

More information on how to apply for a Travel Document can be found on the following website.

On return to the UK, at the airport, refugees should queue in the ‘all other nationalities’ lane and show their Travel Document and BRP to the Immigration Officer.

If a refugee leaves the UK for more than two years, then they would not necessarily have the right to re-enter.

Were the refugee to return to their country of origin or apply for a passport from that country, this would call into question whether refugee status is still required. In those cases, they risk being prevented from re-entering the UK.

Processing times for Travel Document applications can take up to six months. For this reason we strongly advise that families do not make any travel arrangements until they have received their Travel Documents.