On 18 August 2021, the UK government has outlined a new scheme welcoming Afghan women, children and others to the UK.
What we know so far
The goal is to welcome 5,000 Afghan nationals this year.
Women, girls, religious and other minorities will be prioritised as they are most likely to be at a risk of human rights abuses. The UK is in the process of developing a system which will help it identify those most at risk, to ensure that they are prioritised and resettled.
This scheme will be reviewed in the future, with the long-term goal of accepting up to a total of 20,000 Afghan nationals in the long-term.
Resettled Afghan nationals are promised to receive local support from administrations and local councils to help them resettle in the UK.
This route is modelled on a successful Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme – which resettled 20,000 Syrian refugees from 2014-2021.
The route adds to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which allows current or former locally employed staff in Afghanistan (interpreters and others who have directly worked for the UK), that are assessed to be at serious risk of threat to life, to be offered priority relocation to the UK regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served. 5000 Afghan nationals are expected to be relocated to the UK under ARAP this year.
The UK government noted that the new route will not compromise on UK’s national security – strict security checks will need to be passed for those aiming to resettle. In addition, the number of accepted Afghan nationals will be dependent on the capacity of local authorities and the UK’s recovery from Covid-19 will also be taken into account.
However, it must be noted that the UK government is also pushing a separate legislation that would make it a criminal offence to arrive in the UK without entry clearance –the Nationality and Borders Bill – which is currently making its way through Parliament. If this bill is passed, Afghan nationals would need to legally enter the UK to be eligible for the New Resettlement Scheme.
Nonetheless, the UK government has stated its overarching goal is to make the immigration system ‘fairer by protecting and supporting those in genuine need of asylum’.
Are you an Afghan national and are currently in the UK?
If you are currently in the UK, under any type of UK visa, and are concerned about your safety upon return to Afghanistan, we encourage you to seek legal advice about the New Resettlement Route or to contact the Home Office.