Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme
The UK Government’s resettlement route for Afghans at risk
- The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) opened on 6 January 2022 and is one of the UK’s most ambitious resettlement schemes ever.
- The ACRS is designed to support those who have assisted UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for UK values, as well as vulnerable people, such as women and girls at risk. The Government has committed to welcoming up to 20,000 people over the coming years.
- The Scheme is not application-based. Instead, eligible people will be prioritised and referred for resettlement to the UK through one of three referral ‘pathways’.
- This is in addition to the ARAP scheme, which has already relocated thousands of Afghans who have worked with the UK Government, and their families.
Who will be eligible?
- The ACRS will be focused on eligible individuals affected by events in Afghanistan.
- Eligible people will be prioritised for resettlement through three referral pathways:
- Under Pathway 1, some of those evacuated under Operation PITTING, including women’s rights activists, journalists and prosecutors, and Afghan family members of British nationals, will be granted a place on the ACRS. Those eligible who were called forward during the evacuation but were not able to board flights can also be resettled through Pathway 1.
- Under Pathway 2, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will refer refugees who have fled Afghanistan to the Scheme, based on an assessment of protection needs and vulnerabilities.
- Under Pathway 3 in year 1, the government will consider eligible at-risk British Council and GardaWorld contractors and Chevening alumni for resettlement. Beyond the first year, the Government will work with international partners and NGOs to design and deliver Pathway 3 and allow us to welcome wider groups at risk. Further detail will be set out in due course.
Will those eligible be able to bring family?
- A spouse or partner and dependent children under the age of 18 of eligible individuals will be resettled under the Scheme. Some additional family members may be resettled in exceptional circumstances.
How will it work?
- Eligible people will be prioritised and referred for resettlement to the UK through one of three referral pathways:
- Under Pathway 1, some of those already evacuated, including women’s rights activists, journalists, and prosecutors, and Afghan family members of British nationals have now been resettled under this pathway. Those eligible who were called forward during the evacuation but not able to board flights can also be resettled through Pathway 1.
- Under Pathway 2, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will refer refugees who have fled Afghanistan to the Scheme, based on an assessment of protection needs and vulnerabilities. Further detail can be found on the UNHCR website.
- Under Pathway 3 in year 1, the government will consider eligible British Council and GardaWorld contractors and Chevening alumni considered for resettlement to the UK. The FCDO have set out further information on how this works. We encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible to complete the Expression of Interest as soon as possible, and before the deadline on Monday 15 August 2022.
Is it only Afghans who can be resettled?
- The ACRS will be focused on eligible individuals affected by events in Afghanistan – nationals of other countries (for example, in mixed-nationality families) may be eligible to be resettled through the scheme.
How many people are you taking?
- The ACRS will provide up to 20,000 Afghan women, children and others at risk with a safe and legal route to resettle in the UK. In light of the success of our evacuation efforts, we plan to exceed our initial aim to resettle 5,000 through ACRS in the first year.
What will the security checks be for applicants?
- This scheme will not compromise the vital security checks that are required to keep the UK safe. Every person resettled under ACRS will be subject to the same strict security checks to make sure that the UK’s national security is protected.
- It is right that individuals who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorism or other serious crimes are not eligible.
Will people who come to the UK via irregular migrant routes, such as small boats, be eligible for the scheme?
- The ACRS will be open to those in Afghanistan and the region.
- Those who arrive to the UK via irregular routes are currently able to apply for asylum.
- Under the Nationality and Borders Act, it is a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally without permission to be here.
- Our position remains that people should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and not endanger their lives making dangerous crossings across the Channel. We want to deter people from placing themselves in the hands of evil people smuggling gangs and risking being trafficked. It is dangerous and unnecessary to attempt to enter the UK in this way. We are continuing to pursue the criminals behind these illegal crossings and our actions are having a significant impact. Our strengthened agreement with the French has increased police patrols on beaches, improved surveillance technology and enhanced intelligence sharing.
Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP)
- The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) launched on 1 April 2021.
- The ARAP policy offers relocation to the UK for eligible Afghan citizens, employed by the UK government locally in Afghanistan in exposed, meaningful or enabling roles, and assessed to be at serious risk as a result of their work.
- We have relocated over 7,000 eligible Afghan citizens and their family members under the ARAP.
- The ARAP scheme remains open to eligible applicants. It is also possible to make an application outside of Afghanistan. Current or former staff who believe they qualify should apply by using the online application form.
- For further advice please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support once people arrive
Is work taking place to ensure people resettled have the support they need once they arrive?
- Operation PITTING was the largest UK military evacuation since the Second World War, during which we evacuated c.15,000 individuals to the UK. In the six months since Operation PITTING a further c. 4,000 have arrived in the UK via neighbouring countries. This is in addition to c.2000 arrivals under ARAP between the end of June 2021 and when the evacuation began on 14 August.
- Under ‘Operation Warm Welcome’, we are taking a cross-government approach to supporting Afghans to rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education, and integrate with their local communities.
- We have moved – or are in the process of moving - over 6,000 people into homes since June 2021. There is a huge effort underway to support the families into permanent homes as soon as we can so they can settle and rebuild their lives, and to ensure those still temporarily accommodated in hotels are given the best start to their life in the UK.
- The government continues to work at pace alongside local authorities and the private rented sector to secure permanent homes for Afghan families. Those who believe they can assist the effort are encouraged to visit the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities’ housing portal which connects them to appropriate local authorities.
- We have put in place numerous mechanisms to support families. This includes a contact centre, a DWP and Home Office Liaison officer (HOLO) presence to support Universal Credit enrolment, lead job surgeries and to reassure families, plus a funding package of £28 per person per day for provision of Local Authority wrap-around support services. All evacuees are supported to register with a GP. All children of school age who arrived during Operation Pitting have been enrolled into schools.
- Councils have been given funding to support those starting a new life in the UK, with £20,520 per person provided over three years to meet the costs. Local authorities will also receive additional funding for children entering education, to cover English language provision, and to cover healthcare. We have set out further details on the funding local authorities will receive here.
Other routes for Afghan nationals
Points-based immigration system
- The UK has welcomed Afghan nationals through the points-based system to work and study in the UK. Details on how many people have been welcomed through these routes can be found here.
- Visa nationals can apply for a visa from any country. Details on how to apply for a visa can be found here.
- We have also provided asylum to thousands of Afghan nationals in addition to current and former locally employed staff in Afghanistan. Asylum statistics can be found here.
British nationals (or settled persons) and their family members
- Since the events in Afghanistan last August, thousands of people have been brought to safety in the UK, including British Nationals and their families.
- If you are a British national in Afghanistan and you need consular assistance, you should read the Afghanistan travel advice. The FCDO cannot offer advice on the safety of travelling to any alternative departure point. If you are still in Afghanistan, you are also strongly encouraged to register your presence to receive important updates.
- The family rules allow a fiancé or partner, and children under the age of 18 to come to join a British National or settled person as part of a family unit in the UK provided that the requirements of the rules are met. Dependent relatives over the age of 18 with long term care needs can also qualify in certain circumstances.
Family members of Afghan refugees in the UK
- For Afghan refugees in the UK, the Government’s refugee family reunion policy allows a partner and children under 18 of those granted protection in the UK to join them here, if they formed part of the family unit before the sponsor fled their country.
Updated on 7 January 2022.