Pathways for refugees

Creating better employment pathways into work for refugees

Inclusive Employment
Pathways for refugees


Oxfordshire has been supporting a variety of government led resettlement schemes since 2016. This was initially through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (SVPR) scheme. In the last 2 years, global events have led to a significant step up in the numbers of displaced people coming to the county. Oxfordshire is now also supporting people from Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Ukraine settlement schemes.

The Challenge

Accessing employment opportunities is one of the key components for people to be able to integrate and settle well in the county. Each of the resettlement schemes receive different levels of government support such as financial, housing, access to benefits etc. and may face different barriers to employment like learning or improving English, being able to continue practicing professions in the UK that may require some form of conversion course, understanding employment pathways in the UK, caring responsibilities, illness or trauma.

There are many different types of resettlement schemes:

UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS) - formerly the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme (SVPR)

The UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS) is an important component of the UK’s humanitarian response and represents an ongoing commitment to refugee resettlement offering a safe and legal route to vulnerable refugees in need of protection.

Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP)

Operating in different versions since 2010, this scheme makes ex gratia offers to eligible ‘locally employed staff’ (LES) who have been or will be made redundant as a direct consequence of the UK’s military drawdown from Afghanistan. Those who qualify for this scheme (regardless of when they arrived) are given indefinite leave to remain in the UK and, under existing rules and subject to the appropriate fee, are able to apply for British citizenship after five years in the UK.

Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme (ACRS)

Announced in August 2021, in response to UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, this scheme will resettle up to 20,000 people (5,000 in the first year) at risk. The ACRS provides a route to safety and prioritises:

• those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights and freedom of speech, rule of law (for example, judges, women’s rights activists, academics, journalists); and

• vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups at risk (including ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT)

Hong Kong Visa Scheme

Since March 2021 British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status holders ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, are able to settle in the UK to live, work and study. Applicants need to demonstrate they have 6 months’ worth of savings to sustain themselves before being provided entry and do not have recourse to public funds. As a visa scheme there is no advanced notification for councils of who (or when) is coming to the county.

Ukraine Resettlement Schemes

In March 2022, in response to the war in Ukraine and humanitarian crisis, the government established new visa routes - principally the Homes for Ukraine scheme and the Ukraine Family Visa scheme - to enable those fleeing the conflict to come to the UK. The most significant in terms of impact on local authorities is the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Homes for Ukraine.

This is an uncapped visa scheme which enables those fleeing from Ukraine to come to the UK for a period of up to 3 years and once here, have full access to benefits. Phase 1 is operating on the basis of ‘private matching’ meaning that sponsors (those providing accommodation) and guests (those coming from Ukraine) find each other by any means (typically prior connections or through social media) and to match. Sponsors are asked to commit to provide accommodation for a guest for a minimum 6- month period.

Homes for Ukraine vs. Ukraine Family Visa scheme

The schemes share a number of characteristics – numbers are uncapped, eligible Ukrainians can stay for a period of up to 3 years and have a right to work and have full access to public services and benefits. The critical difference between the schemes is that the Ukraine Family Visa scheme is not funded.

There is a lack of parity between the two schemes and no information about how many people are coming to the county under the Family Visa scheme or what their support needs might be.


We want to work in collaboration with partners to understand what the barriers are for employers as well as for the refugees to help improve and create employment pathways for them.

Find out more

Related Resources

Aspire: Employment support for refugees

Aspire Oxfordshire provides specialist support to refugees and migrants throughout Oxfordshire to find employment, training, work experience, or education.


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