On 22 March 2017 the UK Home Office announced that Syrians resettled to the UK will be granted refugee status instead of the previously granted Humanitarian Protection.
In 2014 the UK established a programme to offer resettlement in the UK to some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees: the vulnerable person resettlement (VPR) scheme. Those resettled were granted five-year humanitarian protection (under the EU subsidiary protection status) permits and had access to public funds and the labour market. However, there are still significant barriers for people granted humanitarian protection such as practical obstacles to overseas travel due to the inability to apply for the same travel documents as refugees. Resettled Syrians also face a three-year waiting period before being eligible for student finance, which puts university out of reach of many people.
After intensive advocacy by inter alia the Refugee Council, the UK will start granting refugee status to resettled Syrians under the VPR scheme on 1 July 2017. Those who have been resettled before this date will be given the opportunity to make a request to change their status from humanitarian protection to refugee status. This will enable Syrians to access university and to travel more easily to visit relatives in other European countries.
For more information, see:
AIDA, UK Country Report, February 2017.
Refugee Council, Government finally recognises resettled Syrians as refugees, March 2017.