Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme
The UK Government’s resettlement route for Afghan refugees
- The Afghan citizens resettlement scheme (ACRS) will provide protection for people at risk and identified as in need. It is one of the UK’s most ambitious resettlement schemes ever.
- The ACRS will prioritise those people who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan who face a particular risk from the Taliban, for example because of their stand for democracy and human rights, or because of their gender, sexuality, or religion. The Government has committed to welcome around 5,000 people in the first year and up to 20,000 over the coming years.
- This is in addition to the ARAP scheme, which has already resettled thousands of Afghans who have worked with the UK Government, and their families.
- The route will be kept under constant review and will be operationally flexible given the challenging circumstances.
- The scheme is not yet open. Further details will be announced in due course.
Who will be eligible?
- The ACRS will provide vulnerable refugees from Afghanistan and those put at risk by recent events in Afghanistan with a route to safety.The scheme will prioritise:
- those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights and freedom of speech, or rule of law (for example, judges, women’s rights activists, academics, and journalists); and
- vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups at risk, including ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT.
- Those who were called forward by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, but who we were unable to evacuate before ceasing operations in Afghanistan, will also be guaranteed a place under the ACRS.
Will those eligible be able to bring family?
- Spouses, partners, and dependent children under the age of 18 of identified eligible individuals will be eligible for the scheme. Other family members may be resettled in exceptional circumstances.
How will it work?
- Prioritisation and referral for resettlement will be in one of three ways:
- Vulnerable and at-risk individuals who arrived in the UK under the evacuation programme will be the first to be resettled under the ACRS. People who were notified by the UK Government that they had been called forward or specifically authorised for evacuation, but were not able to board flights, will also be offered a place under the scheme if they subsequently come to the UK.
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will work with the UK Government to identify people most at risk and refer them for resettlement, replicating the approach the UK has taken in response to the conflict in Syria.
- The UK Government will work with international partners and NGOs in the region to implement a fair referral process for those inside Afghanistan, (where safe passage can be arranged,) and from those who have recently fled to neighbouring countries. This process is likely to be affected by the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.
Is it only Afghans who can apply?
- The ACRS will be focused on those affected by the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and while the majority of people resettled will be Afghan, nationals of other countries (for example, in mixed nationality families) may be eligible to be resettled through the scheme.
Will those called forward by the FCDO be eligible?
- People who were notified that they had been called forward or specifically authorised for evacuation but regrettably were not able to board flights for reasons including the security situation in Kabul, will also be offered a place under the scheme. Efforts are being made to facilitate their travel to the UK.
How many people are you taking?
- The ACRS will welcome 5,000 Afghans in the first year and 20,000 over the coming years.
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 coming to the UK as part of the resettlement scheme and on evacuation flights from Afghanistan will be subject to the same strict security checks to make sure that the UK’s national security is protected.
- The Government has a duty to protect the security of the UK and the safety of its citizens and it would be wrong to make a blanket offer of sanctuary to those who may have committed offences that would be crimes in the UK or pose a threat to our national security.
Will people who come to the UK via irregular migrant routes, such as small boats, be eligible to apply to the scheme?
- Eligibility for this route will be for those in the region who need assistance, including women, girls and children at risk given their vulnerability.
- Those who arrive to the UK via irregular routes are currently able to apply for asylum.
- Under the Nationality and Borders Bill, it will become a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally without permission to be here.
- Our position is still that people should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and not risk 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 become 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 significant actions are having an 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.
- Under the policy, any current or former locally employed staff who are assessed to be under serious threat to life are offered priority relocation to the UK regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served.
- 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.
- More details on the scheme can be found here.
Support once people arrive
Is work taking place to ensure people resettled have the support they need once they arrive?
- Work is underway across the whole of Government to ensure the Afghans who stood side by side with us in conflict, their families and those at highest risk who have been evacuated, are supported as they now rebuild their lives in the UK.
- The plans, dubbed ‘Operation Warm Welcome’, will be overseen by Victoria Atkins MP, the new Minister for Afghan Resettlement.
- The support provided will be similar to the commitments in the Syrian Resettlement Programme and ensure that those who worked closely with the British military and UK Government in Afghanistan, and risked their lives in doing so, get the vital health, education, support into employment and accommodation they need to fully integrate into society.
- This includes the creation of a central portal where people, organisations and businesses can register their offer of support, be it volunteering, a job opportunity, professional skills to help with integration and deal with trauma or offering donations of mobile phones, mobile credit or data, laptops, access to training, clothes and toys.
- Free English language courses will also be provided in recognition that many of the dependents of former staff and Afghan translators may need this.
- We have also set out the funding local authorities will receive per person for integration support costs.
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 and their family members
- Many British nationals in Afghanistan were flown out ahead of the evacuation deadline. A small number remain in Afghanistan and the region and the Government is working hard to secure safe passage out of Afghanistan for them and their dependants.
- The Home Office is supporting the urgent cross-Government effort to repatriate British citizens and their family members.
- This includes providing passports and emergency travel documents for individuals who have lost or do not hold documentation, such as the children of British citizens; and we are providing visa waivers to eligible citizens, such as family members of British nationals, to allow them to leave the country quickly.
- If you are a British national and need to speak to a consular officer, call the FCDO on +44 (0) 1908 516666 (or 01908 516666 in the UK). The FCDO cannot offer advice on the safety of travelling to any alternative departure point. If you are still in Afghanistan, you are strongly encouraged to register your presence so that you will receive important updates.
- Requests for a visa waiver for family members of British nationals are passed from FCDO to Border Force to rapidly assess, and all cases are considered on their individual merits. This approach is in line with standard procedures for visa waivers in a crisis scenario, which can be issued to allow individuals into the country on compelling and compassionate grounds.
Family members of Afghan citizens in the UK
- For Afghan citizens in the UK, the Government’s 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.
- There are separate provisions in the Immigration Rules to allow extended family to sponsor children to come here where there are serious and compelling circumstances. Refugees can also sponsor adult dependent relatives living overseas to join them where, due to age, illness, or disability, that person requires long-term personal care that can only be provided by relatives in the UK.