Afghanistan

Afghans Who Helped British Forces To Be Offered Indefinite Leave To Stay In UK

Eligible former Afghan staff and their families will be given indefinite leave to remain, as opposed to five years' temporary residency.

Afghans who worked with the British government and military will be able to move to the UK permanently, the Home Office has confirmed.

The department announced the move on Wednesday as it revealed more details of its plan, dubbed Operation Warm Welcome, to help Afghans rebuild their lives in the UK.

Former Afghan staff and their family members eligible for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) will be given immediate indefinite leave to remain as opposed to only five years' temporary residency as previously permitted.

The policy prioritises relocation to the UK for current or former locally employed staff in Afghanistan, such as interpreters, who have been assessed to be under serious threat to life.

Those who have already been relocated in the UK with temporary residency can now upgrade their immigration status for free, allowing them access to permanent jobs with unrestricted rights to work.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We owe an immense debt to those who worked with the Armed Forces in Afghanistan and I am determined that we give them and their families the support they need to rebuild their lives here in the UK.

"I know this will be an incredibly daunting time, but I hope they will take heart from the wave of support and generosity already expressed by the British public."

The UK, with the help of about 1,000 British troops and RAF aircraft, has evacuated more than 15,000 people since 13 August – of whom more than 8,000 are ARAP claimants.

More than 100 councils have come forward to help families find homes, with at least 2,000 places already confirmed, the Home Office said.

Watch: How the military and veterans are helping Afghan refugees in the UK.

The Communities Secretary is expected to meet with council leaders across the country in the coming days.

All arrivals are being offered the coronavirus vaccine and, so far, more than 700 arrivals have left quarantine and received their first dose of the jab.

The Government has also made a number of pledges as part of Op Warm Welcome.

It includes a £12m investment to help enrol children in schools quickly, £3m towards helping Afghan families access healthcare and register with a GP and £5m so councils can provide housing support, plus more.

Victoria Atkins, who has been appointed Afghan Resettlement minister, said: "The stability of indefinite leave, the security of access to healthcare and the opportunity of education are the foundation upon which those resettled to the UK can build."

The Government is still developing the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, to take in up to 20,000 refugees who were forced to flee their home or face threats of persecution from the Taliban.

As many as 5,000 could arrive in the first year and will also be offered permanent residency.

Some £200m has been committed to the scheme so far.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan accused the UK Government last month of "failing" Afghan staff who supported British Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

If you or someone you know needs support at this time, you can find more information by visiting the British Army website and the Government's website.

Further details about support available can be found on our website.