Committed to the processes of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – Leave No one Behind – UNHCR India works in close cooperation with the Government of India, NGOs and civil society to support refugees and asylum-seekers. The Government of India respects UNHCR's processes and documentation allowing refugees and asylum-seekers to access public health, education and legal aid services.

India has been generous to refugees and asylum-seekers. The two largest groups of refugees in India, notably, some 62,000* Sri Lankan and some 100,000* Tibetans, are directly assisted by the Government of India. In addition, there are some 36,000* refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR, mainly from Afghanistan and Myanmar and in smaller numbers from countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Refugees are eligible to apply for Long Term Visas (LTVs) / stay visas issued by the Government of India. The LTV / stay visa regularises their stay in India and reduces challenges in accessing public services and employment. UNHCR advocates that UNHCR documentation and LTVs are recognized by authorities and service providers to facilitate continued access to basic services and opportunities in asylum.

UNHCR's urban operation is primarily based in New Delhi with a smaller presence in Chennai to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees. UNHCR's partner organizations are operational in key locations to support refugees and asylum-seekers.

UNHCR and partners promotes inclusion of refugees and asylum-seekers into existing national services and supports livelihood activities to help refugees become self-reliant.


  • Refugee Status Determination: UNHCR conducts Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedures, which starts with registration of individual asylum-seekers. Following registration, UNHCR conducts interviews with each individual asylum-seeker to assess his/her claim to international protection as a refugee.
  • Biometrics: UNHCR introduced Biometrics Information Management System (BIMS) in 2015 to capture, store and retrieve biometric information about refugees and asylum-seekers.
  • Community Empowerment: UNHCR ensures inclusive participation of refugees in leadership structures, participatory monitoring and community-based protection networks and projects to address gaps in services.
  • Child protection: UNHCR and partners work with national child protection services to ensure that refugee have access to national schemes, school admissions, birth registration etc.
  • Special needs: UNHCR makes efforts to assist people with special needs such as persons with disabilities, minor/unaccompanied children and elderly.
  • Broader Collaboration: UNHCR works closely with a variety of stakeholders such as refugee communities, lawyers, academics, students, think-tanks, media, UN peacekeepers, police, human rights bodies and the private sector etc.


UNHCR, together with its partners and national civil society networks help rebuild refugees' lives in India. While the principle of assistance is to bridge refugees with public services, UNHCR's partners offer specific services to refugees to help them adapt and adjust in their host communities.

In Delhi, the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC) provides legal assistance to persons under UNHCR's mandate. BOSCO facilitates their access to government health and education services, offers bridge, tuition and language classes, runs day-care centres in some areas and provides psycho-social counselling to those in need. Free Trade Forum – India has partnered with UNHCR India to facilitate livelihood options for refugees.

Outside Delhi, UNHCR has partnership arrangements with Development and Justice Initiative (DAJI) in Jammu, Mewat and Jaipur, Save the Children India in Jammu and Hyderabad, and the Gandhi National Memorial Society (GNMS) in Pune to enhance access of refugees and asylum-seekers to registration/RSD, protection and basic assistance.


Facilitating long-term durable solutions for refugees is an integral part of UNHCR's global mandate. Solutions include the voluntary repatriation of refugees who wish to return to their country, or where possible, local integration of refugees who wish to remain in India and qualify for Indian citizenship under national laws. UNHCR refers some refugees with particularly compelling protection needs for resettlement to a third country.


Reaching out to civil society and interested interlocutors - lawyers, academics, students, think-tanks, media, UN peacekeepers, police, human rights bodies, and the private sector is crucial for generating awareness, understanding and sympathy towards refugees.

UNHCR offers its technical expertise to several legal, academic and research institutions. It conducts the Post Graduate Diploma course in Refugee law in collaboration with the Indian Society of International Law (ISIL) in New Delhi. UNHCR has signed a Letter of understanding with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), a premier Social Science Institute to set up the first Regional Refugee and Statelessness Study Centre.

*figures as of October 2017


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