To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Statement by the Minister for Afghan Resettlement on the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, 6 January 2022, Official Report, column 185, whether discussions are taking place with (a) Qatar, (b) Pakistan, (c) other third-party countries to facilitate safe passage from Afghanistan to the UK for (i) Chevening Scholars and (ii) British Council and GardaWorld contractors; and if she will make a statement.
18 January 2022
The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) commenced on 6th January. The ACRS will provide up to 20,000 women, children and others at risk with a safe and legal route to resettle in the UK.
The first to be resettled under the new ACRS will be those already evacuated and in the UK. They include women’s rights activists, journalists, and prosecutors, as well as the Afghan families of British Nationals.
Due to the success of our emergency evacuation and the larger than anticipated number of people brought over to the UK, we will exceed our initial aim of 5,000 people resettled in the first year of the ACRS. There are around 6,500 people in the UK who have been brought to safety during and after the evacuation who are eligible for the ACRS.
British nationals who have a right of abode in the UK will not be resettled under the ACRS. However, we are supporting those British Nationals who have been assisted by Her Majesty’s Government to the UK.
In addition to those already in the UK, we are working with the UNHCR to receive referrals of vulnerable refugees in need of protection in year 1 of the ACRS, and we will continue to receive referrals to the scheme in coming years. In the first year we will also offer ACRS places to the most at-risk British Council and GardaWorld contractors, and Chevening alumni. Beyond the first year of the ACRS, we will work with international partners and NGOs to welcome referrals of wider groups of Afghans most at risk. There will not be an application process.
The ACRS provides those at risk with a route to safety through three distinct referral routes and has been designed with partners, including the UNHCR, with whom we are designing the referral route for refugees outside of Afghanistan.
The Government will continue to work with international partners to seek to facilitate the travel of those eligible for resettlement in the UK.
Family members of British citizens and settled persons who were not called forward during the evacuation of Afghanistan, or who have not been offered resettlement under the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme, will need to apply to come to the UK under the existing economic or family migration and reunion rules. They will be expected to meet the eligibility requirements of their chosen route, which may include paying relevant fees and charges, and providing their biometrics.
The family Immigration Rules also allow a person to enter a spouse or partner visa if a couple have been in a relationship akin to marriage and have resided together for a two-year period prior to the application date. The two-year period does not have to be the immediate two years prior to the application date.
Information for those wishing to apply to enter or remain in the UK as a spouse or partner is available on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/uk-family-visa/partner-spouse
A full policy statement on this matter published on 13 September 2021 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghanistan-resettlement-and-immigration-policy-statement/afghanistan-resettlement-and-immigration-policy-statement-accessible-version
Further information on the opening of the ARCS can be found in the Oral Statement https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/oral-statement-on-the-afghan-citizens-resettlement-scheme