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Guidance Note: Regular Pathways for Admission and Stay for Migrants in Situations of Vulnerability

At a glance

The guidance note is intended to support Member States and stakeholders in their capacity to analyse the need for and strengthen the design, implementation, monitoring and review of pathways for admission and stay for migrants in situations of vulnerability. It considers matters relating to the availability and flexibility of pathways, admission and stay procedures, and the resulting conditions and duration of relevant measures.


What it offers

The guidance note responds to the reality of many migrants who lack access to regular migration options but are compelled to leave their countries of origin due to inter alia lack of access to rights, separation from families, gender-based violence and inequalities, as well as disasters, the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation. The guidance note is intended to support Member States and stakeholders by:

  • Offering an overview of the ways in which regular pathways for admission and stay can be used to ensure the protection of migrants and their rights, especially when they find themselves in situations of vulnerability.  
  • Gathering different examples and emphasizing the interplay of non-discretionary and discretionary measures to urge Member States to develop holistic approaches to maximise the protective potential of regular pathways.  
  • Providing carious examples to stimulate further collaboration among stakeholders to promote the implementation of relevant GCM Objectives.  


Further information  

The guidance was developed over three phases: (1) A mapping of existing practices for admission and stay based on compassionate, humanitarian, human rights or other considerations for migrants in situations of vulnerability, through a joint literature review, as well as the dissemination of a tailored questionnaire to multiple stakeholder groups; (2) an analysis of information gathered during phase 1; (3) a multi-stakeholder workshop with states and other stakeholders to share experiences and discuss the draft, followed by finalization of the guidance note and a launch event.

The guidance was developed by the OHCHR, Asia-Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), ACT Alliance (co-leads), as well as working group members: ILO, IOM, UNCTAD, UN-Habitat, UNHCR, UNU, UN Women, Ad Hoc Climate Migration and Displacement Group, Caritas Internationalis, CELS, Expert Working Group on Addressing Women Rights in the GCM, FM4 Paso Libre, GANHRI, Global Coalition on Migration, ICVA, Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts, IMBR Initiative, IMUMI/Bloque Latinoamericano, ICMC, Kaldor Centre/ISIM, Mixed Migration Centre, NGO Committee on Migration, Oxfam International, PICUM, Platform on Disaster Displacement, Solidarity Center, Women in Migration Network 

Date of Publication
Type of Resource
Target Audience
UN Network on Migration Thematic Working Group 3 on Regular Pathways
Source / Publisher
UN Network on Migration
Other Source / Publisher
UN Network on Migration Thematic Working Group 3 on Regular Pathways
Geographic Scope
Workstream Output
Enhancing regular pathways for migrants in vulnerable situations 
Regional Review Process
GCM Objectives
Cross Cutting Theme
Rule of law and due process
Human rights
Whole-of-government approach
Whole-of-society approach

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).