Afghan citizens resettlement scheme
A. General information
The UK formally opened the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) on 6 January 2022.
The scheme will prioritise:
those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech, and rule of law
vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups at risk (including ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT+)
The government will resettle more than 5,000 people in the first year and up to 20,000 over the coming years.
B. How the application process looks like
The scheme is not application-based. There is no formal application form to make and submit.
Instead, eligible people will be prioritised and referred for resettlement to the UK through one of 3 referral pathways.
Under Pathway 1, vulnerable and at-risk individuals who arrived in the UK under the evacuation programme have been the first to be settled under the ACRS.
Eligible people who were notified by the UK government that they had been called forward or specifically authorised for evacuation, but were not able to board flights, will also be offered a place under the scheme if they subsequently come to the UK.
Under Pathway 2, we are now able to begin receiving referrals from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of vulnerable refugees who have fled Afghanistan for resettlement to the UK.
UNHCR has the global mandate to provide international protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees. UNHCR will refer individuals in accordance with their standard resettlement submission criteria, which are based on an assessment of protection needs and vulnerabilities.
Pathway 3 was designed to offer a route to resettlement for those at risk who supported the UK and international community effort in Afghanistan, as well as those who are particularly vulnerable, such as women and girls at risk and members of minority groups.
In the first year of this pathway, the government is considering eligible, at-risk people for resettlement from 3 groups: British Council contractors, GardaWorld contractors and Chevening alumni.
There are 1,500 places available in the first year under Pathway 3. This number includes the principal applicants and their eligible family members.
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C. What happens next and rights for dependent family members
The focus of the ACRS will be on those people who remain in Afghanistan or the region. While the majority of people resettled will be Afghan, nationals of other countries (for example, in mixed nationality families) will be eligible to be resettled through the scheme.
A spouse or partner and dependent children under the age of 18 of eligible individuals will be resettled under the scheme.
Any offer of resettlement under the ACRS will be contingent on security screening, including checks against security and other databases, and provision of biometric information.
Individuals who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorism or other serious crimes will not be eligible.
D. Right of Appeal
Applicants participating in this scheme will only have a limited right of appeal. We therefore advise that applicants seek legal advice on the procedure for appealing.
E. Does it lead to getting Indefinite Leave to Remain?
Anyone who is resettled through the ACRS will receive indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK, and will be able to apply for British citizenship after 5 years in the UK under existing rules.
The same right will be available for dependent family members mentioned above.
We can advise on the procedure, requirements and merits under this route.
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