In August 2021, the Taliban captured Kabul. The UN, NGOs, and countries are now considering how to deliver aid to Afghanistan without Taliban interference.
This page was last updated on 1 September 2021- the Library Briefing UK immigration routes for Afghan nationals provides more recent updates.
This information should be read as correct at time of publication: 1 September 2021.
The Commons Library does not intend the information on this page to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.
British nationals in Afghanistan
Any remaining British nationals in Afghanistan are strongly encouraged by the UK Government to register their presence to receive updates.
Those seeking consular assistance should contact the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on +44 1908 516 666, or 01908 516 666 in the UK, and select the option “Consular services for British nationals.”
Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP)
In December 2020, the Home Office and Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced the ARAP, which is designed to assist current or former locally employed staff in Afghanistan receive assistance or be offered relocation.
The scheme was launched on 1 April 2021 and replaces the previous Intimidation Policy that has operated since 2010. The ARAP will operate indefinitely. Both current or former locally employed staff employed by the UK Government assessed to be at serious risk of threat to life are eligible to apply, regardless of their length of service or employment status.
The Home Office have published an ARAP scheme factsheet on its operation, use of security checks and reasons for rejection.
Application is via an online form: Relocation to the United Kingdom Application (office.com). Applications can be made to the scheme from any country, including Afghanistan.
Advice can also be sought via the following email: email@example.com
Applications are processed and determined by the Afghan Threat and Risk Evaluations Unit, which is made up of officials from the MOD and FCDO. Responsibility for assessing the application (PDF) rests with the Department that employed the applicant.
Applicants who qualify for relocation may include a partner and any minor dependent children in their application. The details of which family members qualify, are set out in Home Office Additional Guidance on the eligibility of additional family members, June 2021 (PDF). In September 2021, the Government announced that those who are relocated to the UK under the ARAP will receive immediate indefinite leave to remain. Those who have already been relocated can apply free of charge to convert their temporary leave into indefinite leave.
The Commons Library Briefing on the Resettlement scheme for locally employed civilians in Afghanistan provides more detail on scheme.
Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS)
In August 2021, the Government announced the UK will accept 20,000 Afghan refugees in the long-term, including 5,000 in its first year. Priority will be given to women and girls, and religious and other minorities who are at risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the Taliban.
The Home Office has published a factsheet on Resettlement routes for Afghan nationals.
The scheme is not yet open, and no further details have been announced.
Some vulnerable Afghans who were not eligible under the ARAP or otherwise entitled to remain in the UK have been evacuated to the UK over the past few weeks. In August, the Home Office told MPs that these people will be treated as falling under the new ACRS. Those who were contacted by the FCDO but were unable to be evacuated before the UK ceased operations in Afghanistan will also be guaranteed a place under the ACRS.
Chevening Scholarship students
In August, the UK Government reversed its decision to pause the issuing of visas to 35 Afghan Chevening Scholars who were due to come to the UK.
UK Government Helplines
The UK Government is continuing to assist those in Afghanistan, including:
- Current or former Chevening Scholars
- People with existing leave or an open application for student, work and family visas
- Civil society groups for women’s rights
- Government Officials
- Officials working in counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics
- Employees of charities, humanitarian organisations and NGOs
British nationals, or a family member of a British national, in Afghanistan should contact the FCDO on +44 1908 516 666, or 01908 516 666 in the UK, and select the option “Consular services for British nationals.”
Emergency consular assistance for those unable to leave is also available via (+44) (0)207 008 5000
Non-British nationals in Afghanistan, or a family member, should contact (+44) (0)2475 389 980, or 02475 389 980 in the UK. Note this helpline does not provide eligibility on the ACRS scheme or for registering interest.
Regular updates can be found on the British Embassy Kabul site. The Embassy is now operating remotely.
UK schemes to welcome arrivals and to support councils
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published a welcome pack guide for families arriving under the ARAP and the previous ex-gratia scheme.
On 29 August 2021, the UK Government launched “Operation Warm Welcome,” overseen by the Minister for Afghan resettlement, Victoria Atkins. It will include the launch of a new central portal where volunteers and organisations can register their offers of support.
The Government has announced £5 million of funding to local authorities to provide necessary housing and other support to arrivals. £12 million of funding will also be available to prioritise additional school places for children, and £3 million will be available to the NHS to enable Afghans arriving under the ARAP scheme to access healthcare and register with a GP. A first dose of Covid-19 vaccine will also be offered to all those arriving from Afghanistan.
The Welsh Government maintains a collection of support for those affected by the situation in Afghanistan.
Refugees arriving in Iran and Pakistan
The Red Cross may be able to help trace relatives in Afghanistan.
Charitable support in the UK
The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association provides support for Afghans and those from central Asia living in the UK. This includes advice on housing, benefits, and employment.
Registering support for refugees in the UK
The UK and Devolved Governments allow people to register their interest in helping refugees in their local area. Links can be found at:
- UK Government, Help refugees
- Welsh Government, Helping people seek sanctuary in Wales
- Scottish Government, Offer support for refugees
Relocation and refugee schemes offered by other countries
The UN Refugee Agency maintains a list of state-sponsored programmes offered by countries such as the US, Canada, France, and Germany.
The UN Agency does not refer people to these programmes or process applications.
A Westminster Hall debate on the 'Impact on Anglo-Chinese relations following the AUKUS pact' has been scheduled for Wednesday 20 October 2021 from 9.30-11:00am. The debate has been initiated by Daniel Kawczynski MP.
Many Members of Parliament are dealing with a lot of enquiries from constituents asking how relatives or friends in Afghanistan might be able to come to the UK.