change font dimension

A- A A+

change layout site

change the site contrast

screen reader

Employing a refugee with or without documentation of qualifications

Europe is facing an increasing influx of refugees seeking a safe haven in Europe. The access to higher education or employment is crucial in order to secure a well-function integration process.


What to expect

Refugees have varied skills and qualifications. A number of those who have a formal qualification often lack authentic and sufficient documentation for their qualification or their qualifications cannot be verified due state of emergency. This may be for different reasons, for example that the responsible authority no longer exists or archives have been destroyed.


Lisbon Recognition Convention

The purpose of the Lisbon Recognition Convention is to facilitate greater academic mobility in Europe. The Parties of the Convention have all committed to satisfactory procedures for recognising higher education qualifications.

The commitment includes procedures for deciding whether refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation fulfil the relevant requirements for access to higher education, to further higher education programmes or to employment activities. This also applies to cases in which the qualifications obtained cannot be documented.

As such, refugees, displaced persons or persons in a refugee-like situation who have formal education from a recognised and/or accredited educational institution and others who for valid reason and in spite of their best persistent efforts cannot document the qualifications they claim, should have a right to have their qualifications assessed by a competent authority responsible for its recognition.

Several ENIC/NARIC offices have developed a procedure for the assessment of refugee qualifications. You can find more information on the services provided by a few ENIC/NARICs through the following links:

Furthermore, in 2017, Lisbon Recognition Convention Committee adopted the Recommendation on the Recognition of Qualifications held by Refugees, Displaced Persons and Persons in a Refugee-like Situation. In turn, ratifying states are expected to implement measures outlined in the recommendation within their respective contexts.

The Recommendation describes the goal and results of the assessment procedure and factors to be taken into consideration.

The explanatory memorandum to the Recommendation on the Recognition of Qualifications held by Refugees, Displaced Persons and Persons in a Refugee-like Situation puts forward two examples of successful collaboration projects in the field of recognition of refugees’ qualifications:

The European Qualifications Passport for Refugees is issued to refugees who claim to have completed or partially completed studies at the level of upper secondary school and above, including qualifications for which there is insufficient or missing documentation. The aim is that it will help applicants continue further studies, improve their language proficiency, apply for formal recognition or authorization or find employment.

The document explains the qualifications a refugee is likely to have based on the available evidence. Although this document does not constitute a formal recognition act, it summarizes and presents available information on the applicant’s educational level, work experience and language proficiency. The evaluation methodology is a combination of an assessment of available documentation, the considerable experience gained through previous evaluations and the use of a structured interview. Thus, the document provides credible information that can be relevant in connection with applications for employment, internships, qualification courses and admission to studies.


What can the employers do?

A successful integration requires jobs for refugees and others in a refugee-like situation. Public authorities must therefore work with employers tofacilitate good access to the labour market for refugees and others in a refugee-like situation.

Depending on the country, the education institution, the ministry responsible for education or the ENIC-NARIC national information centre will be responsible for the recognition of the academic qualification of refugees. If refugees are unable to provide documentation, their qualifications are to be recognised by using alternative methods. The ENIC-NARIC national information centre should be able to assist you or direct you to the appropriate source of information.

The recognition of qualifications for professional (employment) purposes depends largely on whether the profession in question is regulated or not in the host country[1]. It is up to each country to determine which professions should be regulated. If a profession is regulated, the state appoints a competent authority to make the decisions on recognition of foreign qualifications. In order to work in a regulated profession with foreign qualifications, one must apply for the recognition of these qualifications from the competent authorities. According to the Directive 2005/36/EC, there are national contact points within the EU countries that can give you information on the recognition of the qualifications if they are regulated. In order to know if a profession is regulated in an EU country, please visit the Regulated Professions Database: it contains information on the regulated professions covered by Directive 2005/36/EC, statistics on migrating professionals, contact points and competent authorities. This applies to professions regulated in the EU Member States, EEA countries and Switzerland.

Employing a refugee should be similar to any other employment situation. Should the employer not be familiar with presented qualifications or for some other reason need professional guidance on a presented qualification, employers can contact the ENIC-NARIC national information centre of the responsible ministry. Employers should have confidence in the recognition undertaken by the abovementioned institutions and the documentation they issue for refugees.

Information about specific procedures for ENIC-NARIC countries is available on each country page. Please click on "Countries of the Networks", then on the name of the country and on "Recognition of Qualifications held by Refugees".

See also:

Recognition of Ukrainian Qualifications

Recognition of qualifications held by refugees

How to recognise my qualifications as a refugee?

Refugee and migrant integration into education and training – European Education Area (EEA)

[1] In general terms, a regulated profession is subject to specific legal regulations and may be exercised only by those fulfilling the stipulated requirements. Recognition for the purposes of exercising a regulated profession is normally distinct from and additional to the recognition of an academic qualification and is conducted by a specially appointed authority. Medical doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, and engineers are typical examples of regulated professions.