Resettlement for Afghan nationals arriving in UK
- The following outlines the wraparound support being provided to Afghan nationals through Operation Warm Welcome (OWW).
- OWW is a significant cross-government effort, ensuring Afghans and their families are supported upon arrival in the UK.
- So far over 300 local authorities have pledged to support families, as part of OWW.
What is ‘Operation Warm Welcome'?
- OWW is ensuring those Afghans who stood side-by-side with us in conflict, their families and those at highest risk who have been evacuated, are supported upon arrival in the UK and through the process of resettlement.
- The UK Government is helping to secure the vital support they need to rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education, and integrate into their local communities.
How will the Government resettle those who have fled Afghanistan?
- We launched the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme on 1 April 2021, through which thousands of Afghans who have worked with the UK government, and their families, have already been resettled in the UK.
- We have completed Operation PITTING, the biggest and fastest emergency evacuation in recent history, bringing around 15,000 people to safety in the UK and helping 36 other countries airlift their own nationals.
- We have also announced the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) which will provide protection for people who have been identified as most at risk and most in need. It is one of the UK’s most ambitious resettlement schemes ever.
- Anyone who is resettled through these two schemes (ACRS and ARAP) will receive indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK.
- We will continue to prioritise those people who have assisted UK efforts in Afghanistan or who are most at risk from the Taliban, for example because of their stand for democracy and human rights, or because of their gender, sexuality, or religion.
- Our commitment to Afghanistan, and those who supported our mission there, continues. We will now use every diplomatic and humanitarian lever at our disposal to restore stability to Afghanistan.
- Total UK aid to Afghanistan this year is now £286 million, one of our largest bilateral programmes.
What support is available for Afghan arrivals?
- The UK Government has made £3 million of additional NHS funding available so that Afghans arriving under the ARAP scheme can access healthcare and register with a GP.
- £5 million funding for councils in England, Wales, and Scotland to support Afghans coming to the UK via the ARAP scheme and provide a top-up to help meet the costs of renting properties.
- £200 million has been committed to meet the cost of the first year of the ACRS, which aims to welcome up to 20,000 Afghans.
How many people will the UK be offering protection to?
- In addition to those resettled through the ARAP, the government has committed to welcome up to 20,000 people from Afghanistan over the coming years.
- This represents one of the UK’s most ambitious resettlement schemes ever.
- We are committed to ensuring that every Afghan citizen who resettles here has the support they need to rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education, and integrate into their local communities.
- We recognise, and are hugely grateful for, the vital support of the devolved administrations, local government and partners in the charitable and private sector who are working with us to ensure those fleeing Afghanistan are warmly welcomed into the UK.
What happens when they arrive in the UK?
- There is a significant cross-government effort underway to ensure Afghans arriving in the UK receive the vital support they need to rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education, and integrate into their local communities.
- We are working at pace to provide permanent homes for everyone and in the interim we have ensured that temporary accommodation, financial and medical support is provided.
- Over 300 local authorities have pledged to support families as part of our resettlement plans.
- The Ministry of Defence continues to support the accommodation effort and is making more properties available to Local Authorities to further increase capacity.
- Families are moved into temporary ‘bridging’ hotels before permanent accommodation is then allocated at the earliest opportunity.
Why are we using bridging hotels?
- The success of Operation PITTING was unprecedented, and we are working hard to find homes for everyone who was successfully evacuated.
- Across Government we are working at pace with local authorities to secure permanent housing and ensure families have the support they need, while also making sure that local services are not put under undue strain.
- We do not want to see families remain in hotel accommodation for prolonged periods, and there is a huge effort underway to get families into permanent homes so they can settle and rebuild their lives.
- Hotels provide interim accommodation and enable us to provide full support whilst we best match individuals and families to a community for their needs.
Will you be providing those resettled with wider support to start new lives in the UK?
- We are providing wrap-around support to enable families to build successful lives in the UK. Examples of how we will do that include:
- Free English language courses which will be provided in recognition that many of the dependents of former staff and Afghan translators may need this.
- 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 donations of items like clothes and toys.
- DWP are running surgeries across the country, run by experienced work coaches with translators, to help those arriving with any questions they may have about employment or benefits. The Government has ensured all of these groups are eligible for benefits from the first day they arrive, and will also have the right to work as soon as they are ready to do so, aided by the employment support offered by work coaches.
- The Department for Education (DfE) are making £12 million available to prioritise additional school places and ensure children can be enrolled as soon as possible, as well as to provide specialist language support and facilitate free transport to school. This funding will shortly be accessible in Devolved Administrations, and we will provide more detail on this in due course.
- DfE have issued a letter to all local authorities confirming that they expect them to provide school places wherever possible and providing guidelines around the nature of any temporary provision.
- DfE have also recently announced children and young people from Afghanistan will benefit from 6,000 laptops and tablets to support their education and help them adjust to life in this country – backed by an overall £126 million investment to support disadvantaged children with their learning.
What care is being offered to families whilst they are in bridging hotels?
- We are providing wraparound support for families.
- Voluntary and Community Sector Emergency Partnerships have worked with our welfare team to lead on the co-ordination and delivery of supplies into our hotels. We are very grateful for partners such as local authorities and the British Red Cross who have offered additional supplies into their local hotels.
- All guests within the bridging hotels are encouraged and supported to register with a GP as they are able to access the same healthcare support as all UK residents.
- Everyone is being offered the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Hotels will work with emergency services if required to respond appropriately and sensitively to critical incidents.
- Cash cards have been issued at all our bridging hotels for expenses and we ensured emergency cash was available to those who needed it in the interim.
- DWP are visiting the hotels to support the families and manage the process of accessing employment or benefits.
- Families are free to come and go from their bridging hotels as they wish.
- A call centre helpline has been established for all Afghan residents within the bridging hotels. More information is outlined here: Next steps in the UK: immigration information for people evacuated from Afghanistan - GOV.UK
- All our hotels are procured through Government Crown Commercial Service and hotels must provide up to date health and safety reports before being booked.
What funding is available to councils who offer permanent homes?
- Councils who support people through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) or Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme will receive £20,520 per person, over three years, for resettlement and integration costs.
- Local councils and health partners who resettle families will receive up to £4,500 per child for education, £850 to cover English language provision for adults requiring this support and £2,600 to cover healthcare.
- A further £20 million of flexible funding will be made available to support local authorities with higher cost bases with any additional costs in the provision of services.
- The Afghan LES (Locally Employed Staff) Housing Costs Fund provides a top up to help councils meet the costs of renting properties for those that need it, including larger homes for families.
- We have also made funding available, at £28 per person, per day, for local authorities to provide support in the bridging hotels.
- We are very grateful to local authorities who are supporting these initiatives and encourage others to offer their support.
- Further information is outlined in: Funding boost for councils as new Afghan resettlement plans set out - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
How do you decide where people will be resettled?
- We work closely with Local Authorities to understand where suitable housing is available across the country.
- We gather as much information as we can about each person or family’s individual needs and circumstances to help us to then match them to the most appropriate area and housing.
Why can’t we help more people?
- The UK’s evacuation operation helped over 15,000 people to safety including British nationals, Afghan interpreters, and other vulnerable people.
- Whilst the success of that operation exceeded our expectations, we know that there are many left in difficult circumstances. That is why our utmost priority is to continue to work with allies and partners in the region to ensure safe passage for those who want to leave Afghanistan.
- The ARAP and ACRS schemes are designed to help those most at risk and in need of refuge.
- We want to ensure that those arriving in the UK receive the support they need to rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education, and integrate into their local communities.
- We believe that in addition to those resettled under the ARAP, 5,000 in the first year through the ACRS is a sustainable number to maintain a fair and effective system while providing this vital support to those most in need.
- The ACRS will be kept under constant review and will be operationally flexible given the challenging circumstances.
What about other individuals such as Afghan Family Members of British Nationals, Settled Persons and Refugees in the UK – is support available?
Close Family Members of British Citizens (and settled persons) evacuated or called forward as part of Operation Pitting.
- To facilitate the travel of family members of British citizens and those settled in the UK those who were evacuated as part of Operation Pitting were given visa waivers and limited permission to stay outside of the Immigration Rules for six months. This permission enables them to access work and benefits. We will grant indefinite leave to remain to this group of evacuees.
Afghan Family Members of British Citizens and Settled Persons who were not notified they were eligible for evacuation under Operation Pitting.
- For other non-UK family members of British citizens and settled persons who were not called forward as part of Operation Pitting, or who are not offered resettlement under the ACRS, they will need to apply to come to the UK under the existing economic or family migration rules.
Afghan Family Members of Refugees in the UK
- We already have rules in place for close family members of individuals granted refugee status to apply to join them in the UK, but we recognise those in Afghanistan will face the same challenges in providing biometrics and so we do not recommend making applications at this time.