The Home Office has announced further details of the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme.
The UK formally opened the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) on 6 January 2022.
The scheme will prioritise:
- those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech, and rule of law
- vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups at risk (including ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT+)
The government will resettle more than 5,000 people in the first year and up to 20,000 over the coming years.
This is in addition to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme, which has already settled thousands of Afghans who have worked with the UK government, and their families. The ARAP scheme is a separate scheme to the ACRS and offers Afghan nationals who have worked for or alongside the UK government, and meet the ARAP criteria, relocation to the UK.
Anyone who is resettled through the ACRS will receive indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK, and will be able to apply for British citizenship after 5 years in the UK under existing rules.
The scheme is not application-based. Instead, eligible people will be prioritised and referred for resettlement to the UK through one of 3 referral pathways:
1. Under Pathway 1, vulnerable and at-risk individuals who arrived in the UK under the evacuation programme have been the first to be settled under the ACRS. Eligible people who were notified by the UK government that they had been called forward with assurance of evacuation, but were not able to board flights, and do not hold leave in a country considered safe by the UK are also eligible under Pathway 1.
2. Under Pathway 2, we are now able to receive referrals from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of vulnerable refugees who have fled Afghanistan for resettlement to the UK. UNHCR has the global mandate to provide international protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees. UNHCR will refer individuals in accordance with their standard resettlement submission criteria, which are based on an assessment of protection needs and vulnerabilities.
3. Pathway 3 was designed to offer a route to resettlement for those at risk who supported the UK and international community effort in Afghanistan, as well as those who are particularly vulnerable, such as women and girls at risk and members of minority groups. In the first stage of this pathway, the government is considering eligible, at-risk people for resettlement from 3 groups: British Council contractors, GardaWorld contractors and Chevening alumni. We will consider for resettlement all eligible principals who submitted an expression of interest and their eligible family members, subject to security and other checks. This means we will exceed the original allocation of 1,500 places for this first stage of Pathway 3.
Expressions of interest for these 3 groups under Pathway 3 have closed. If you have already submitted an expression of interest, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office will contact you to confirm whether you are being referred for resettlement.
After the first stage of Pathway 3, the government will work with international partners and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to welcome wider groups of Afghans at risk.
The focus of the ACRS will be on those people who remain in Afghanistan or the region. While the majority of people resettled will be Afghan, nationals of other countries (for example, in mixed nationality families) will be eligible to be resettled through the scheme. 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.
Any offer of resettlement under the ACRS will be contingent on security screening, including checks against security and other databases, and provision of biometric information. Individuals who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorism or other serious crimes will not be eligible.
It is vital that those arriving have somewhere suitable to stay once they are in the UK. We will only facilitate ACRS arrivals where suitable accommodation can be secured ahead of arrival, including where individuals can be supported to arrange accommodation themselves.
The ACRS demonstrates the government’s New Plan for Immigration in action, to expand and strengthen our safe and legal routes to the UK for those in need of protection.
If you are a British or non-British national in Afghanistan and in need of assistance, view our support page for contact details.