The UK has now formally opened the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) and the first Afghan family has been granted indefinite leave to remain under the scheme. The ACRS is one of the most ambitious resettlement programmes in the world, and the first bespoke scheme in Europe to begin resettling Afghan evacuees.
The ACRS, part of the government’s New Plan for Immigration, will provide up to 20,000 Afghan citizens with a safe and legal route to resettle in the UK in the coming years. It prioritises those who assisted UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law – as well as at-risk women, girls, and members of minority groups. This is in addition to evacuated British nationals, and the more than 7,000 people who have been relocated under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
Minister for Afghan Resettlement, Victoria Atkins, said:
Launching the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme is a landmark moment for our country. I am proud that communities up and down the UK have opened their arms to vulnerable Afghan families who have been forced to flee their country.
The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme provides a safe, legal and secure way for the most vulnerable and at-risk people from Afghanistan to come to the United Kingdom and rebuild their lives, as part of the New Plan for Immigration.
This scheme is just the beginning. Now it’s time to pick up the pace and get more Afghan families into work, into education and into permanent homes so they can integrate, thrive and rebuild their lives here in the UK.
Three bespoke referral pathways under the ACRS will enable Afghan nationals to resettle and thrive in the UK:
- beginning this month, the first to be resettled will include some of those already evacuated to the UK, including women’s rights activists, journalists, prosecutors, and Afghan family members of British nationals
- from spring, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will refer refugees to the scheme, based on assessments of protection need
- in year one, the third pathway will resettle individuals who supported the UK and international community effort in Afghanistan, including those British Council and GardaWorld contractors and Chevening alumni who are most at risk
Since it was announced, a huge and complex cross-government effort has taken place to ensure everybody evacuated to the UK has the support they need, including appropriate housing, schooling, and healthcare.
The government is working with partners in the devolved administrations and local government to support Afghan evacuees, delivering on its New Plan for Immigration by supporting those who come here legally to integrate into UK communities. Councils receive a generous funding deal to help them deliver this support, with £20,520 per person provided over 3 years, with additional funding for children entering education, English language provision, and healthcare.
The government is pursuing all avenues to accelerate the process of matching families to settled accommodation, including making more homes available through the private rented sector. Those who believe they can assist the effort are encouraged to visit the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ Afghanistan housing portal, which connects them to appropriate local authorities.
The UK government undertook the biggest and fastest emergency evacuation in recent history, helping over 15,000 people to safety in the UK, and around 1,500 more since the evacuation. The ACRS operates alongside the government’s other safe and legal resettlement routes, which have provided tens of thousands of at-risk people with the chance to start a new life in the UK. Since 2015, the UK has helped more people through resettlement schemes than any other country in Europe. Every person who comes to the UK will be subject to the same strict security checks as those resettled through other schemes.
More information on Operation Warm Welcome is available.