Documents to download

A GOV.UK page, Support for British and non-British nationals in Afghanistan, includes contact details for people in Afghanistan in need of assistance from the UK Government. However it cannot be used to register interest in the new Afghan resettlement scheme.

Evacuation, resettlement and relocation schemes

Some Afghans have already come to the UK or been told that they are eligible to come to the UK, under bespoke arrangements for people affected by the situation in Afghanistan. The Government has said that it will grant this group of people indefinite leave to remain in an appropriate immigration category (e.g., under the resettlement or relocation schemes, or as a family member of a UK-based sponsor).

Operation Pitting

Some Afghan nationals came to the UK as part of the August 2021 military evacuation. Broadly, they were family members of British or Afghan nationals living in the UK, people eligible under the relocation schemes for UK Government employees, and other particularly vulnerable cases.

The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS)

The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), confirmed on 18 August, is not yet open. The Government aims to resettle up to 5,000 people in the first year of operation, but it has not yet announced when it will begin.

The ex gratia and ARAP schemes for former employees

Some Afghan civilians (and family members) previously employed by the British government who fear reprisals from the Taliban are eligible for relocation in the UK. There are two schemes currently in use:

  • The ex-gratia redundancy and resettlement scheme, which will run until November 2022. It caters for people who worked directly for HMG on 1 May 2006 and had served for more than 12 months.
  • The Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) is open to any current or former staff employed by HMG in Afghanistan since 2001, who are assessed to be at serious risk of threat to life. Eligibility is regardless of employment status, rank or role, or length of time served. The scheme is open-ended and there is no limit or quota on the number of people eligible.

Recent changes made to the schemes over summer 2021 include broadening ARAP eligibility rules to include Afghans dismissed from service for minor administrative offences; ensuring that interpreters who supported the UK military as contractors will be eligible for relocation under ARAP; and allowing people to apply for relocation from outside Afghanistan.

Other immigration routes

Various other UK visa routes might be relevant to Afghan citizens. But the Government is currently advising people in Afghanistan against applying for a visa, because it will not process applications whilst there is no way to submit supporting biometric information.

Afghans who have already left Afghanistan and can access a visa application centre in another country can make an application, but the Government is reluctant to tell people who feel at risk in Afghanistan to attempt to leave the country.

Refugee family reunion rules

‘Pre-flight’ immediate family members (partner and dependent children under 18) of adult refugees can join them in the UK under the refugee family reunion rules.

Family visa rules

The broader family migration immigration rules apply to other types of family case (sponsors/relatives ineligible under the refugee family reunion rules and relatives of British citizens and people settled in the UK). Significant application fees and more onerous eligibility requirements apply to these applications.

Special arrangements for Afghans already in the UK

Afghans with limited leave to remain in the UK

The Home Office has recently said that it will introduce some limited flexibility to waive some supporting documentation requirements and restrictions on switching immigration category for Afghans in the UK.

Asylum seekers

Updated Home Office asylum policy guidance issued in early October does not recommend that all Afghan asylum seekers be granted protection in the UK. It does identify several groups of Afghans likely to be at risk of persecution by the Taliban. The categories listed are similar to those potentially eligible under the UK’s evacuation, relocation and resettlement schemes. 

Enforced removals to Afghanistan are currently “paused”.


Documents to download

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