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Migration and Home Affairs

complementary pathway for admission to third countries


In the global context, safe and regulated avenues for refugees by providing legal admission and lawful stay in a third country where their international protection needs are met which complement resettlement but not substitute the protection afforded to refugees under the international protection regime, while also being able to support themselves and reach sustainable and lasting solutions for resettlement or legal stay.


Derived by EMN from UNHCR: Complementary Pathways for Admission to third countries, and UNHCR: Complementary Pathways for Admission of Refugees to Third Countries: Key Considerations, April 2019.


  • BG: допълнителна възможност за прием в трети държави
  • CS: doplňková cesta pro přijetí do třetích zemí
  • DE: Komplementärer  Zugangsweg für die Zulassung in Drittstaaten (EU acquis); Ergänzender Weg für die Zulassung in Drittstaaten
  • EL: συμπληρωματική οδός εισδοχής σε τρίτες χώρες
  • EN: complementary pathway for admission to third countries
  • ES: n/a
  • ET: Kolmandatesse riikidesse vastuvõtmise täiendavad rändeteed
  • FI: täydentävä maahanmuuton väylä kolmansiin maihin
  • FR: voie d’admission complémentaire dans les pays tiers
  • GA: conair chomhlántach um ligean isteach i dtríú tíortha
  • HU: kiegészítő útvonal a harmadik országokba történő befogadáshoz
  • IT: percorso complementare per l’ammissione in paesi terzi
  • LT: papildomas priėmimo į trečiąsias šalis būdas
  • LV: papildu iespējas uzņemšanai trešā valstī
  • MT: Mogħdija komplimentarja għad-dħul f’pajjiżi terzi
  • NL: Complementaire toegangsmogelijkheid tot derde landen
  • PL: uzupełniająca ścieżka przyjmowania (uchodźców) do państw trzecich
  • PT: vias complementares para a admissão em países terceiros
  • RO: n/a
  • SK: doplnkové možnosti prijímania tretími krajinami
  • SL: dopolnilna pot za sprejem v tretjo državo
  • SV: kompletterande inreseväg från tredje land
  • NO: lovlig adgang til tredjeland (b); lovleg tilgang til tredjeland (n)


  • complimentary pathway for refugee admission
  • complementary pathway for admission of refugees to third countries

Related Term(s)


  1. Complementary pathways offer refugees with alternatives to resorting to irregular means and harmful onward movement. They can also facilitate the acquisition and retention of skills that can help refugees attain a sustainable and lasting solution for resettlement or legal stay in the future. They may include existing admission avenues but which may require operational adjustments to facilitate refugee access.
  2. Complementary pathways can be seen as an expression of global solidarity and international cooperation and a contribution to more equitable responsibility sharing. UNHCR points out that they must be carefully designed and implemented in such a way that the rights of refugees (e.g. the non-refoulement principle) and continuing international protection needs are safeguarded.
  3. Current complementary pathways include humanitarian admission programs, medical evacuation, family reunification, private sponsorship, and opportunities for labour mobility and education. A key characteristic is that they typically require refugees to meet particular eligibility criteria apart from their refugee status. Three types of complementary pathways can be differentiated:
    • humanitarian-based complementary pathways include humanitarian admission programs, humanitarian visas, and family reunification
    • skill-based complementary pathways include opportunities for migration on the basis of employment and education, including labour mobility and educational scholarships and visas and
    • community-based complementary pathway include private or community-based sponsorship initiatives through which citizens, community groups, or other non-profit organizations can agree to sponsor a refugee upon their arrival in a third country.
    • For more information see IOM Glossary on Migration 2019 and Church World service (CWS): The Future of Refugee Resettlement and Complementary Path-ways, Oct. 2020
  4. A particular feature of complementary pathways is that refugees can access them directly, making use of publically available information and existing administrative mechanisms, and thus securing their own solutions.
  5. The Global Compact for Migration calls upon States to enhance availability and flexibility of pathways for regular migration in a way that facilitates labour mobility and decent work reflecting demographic and labour market realities, optimizes education opportunities, upholds the right to family life, and responds to the needs of migrants in a situation of vulnerability (Objective 5 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration).