We’re getting lots of calls from people worried about family in Afghanistan, or about their own cases. Here is some information that may be useful.

For people there, the situation on the ground in Afghanistan is changing all the time, so you will need to check which borders are open and what is needed to enter neighbouring countries.

Information about the ARAP scheme for people who were employed by the British government in Afghanistan, which is currently open

The latest government advice for British and non-British nationals in Afghanistan

The latest information about the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme set up in September 2021.

Most people who contact us don’t fit into the narrow requirements of the refugee family reunion rules. The rules only cover spouses and dependants under 18. However there is still a chance you may be able to apply for other family members.

For outstanding asylum cases in the UK for people from Afghanistan, decisions have been paused. We recommend that if you are waiting for a decision you push for the process to be hurried up, through your legal representative or through your MP.

For referrals, please download our referral form.

Summary of the UKVI position on Afghanistan

This section summarises the options for people seeking asylum in the UK from Afghanistan, with GMIAU’s advice.

This scheme has been running since April 2021 and is still open to applicants, wherever they are now.

It allows those who worked with UK forces in Afghanistan who are deemed to be at risk, whether because they worked as interpreters or in public exposed roles, to come to the UK. They can bring spouses and dependent children under 18 with them. Other family members may be accepted in exceptional circumstances.

Those who come to the UK under this route are entitled to Indefinite Leave to Remain. This is a change from the initial 5 year visa. Those who have a 5 year visa can apply for ILR at any time before their visa runs out free of charge.

All those brought to the UK under ARAP will have the right to work, access to education and healthcare and be able to apply for public funds.

Advice

Anyone who thinks they may qualify should read the guidance and complete the form here:

Anyone already in the UK with 5 years leave to remain should apply for Indefinite Leave as soon as possible. Do not wait for the Home Office to contact you. It may help to contact your local Member of Parliament for help to raise this with the Home Office.

This is a scheme set up in September 2021 to allow up to 20,000 Afghan nationals to relocate to the UK including 5,000 in the first year.

To qualify you must be assessed to be at risk because of your activities in Afghanistan, or because you are vulnerable because of your characteristics (women, LGBTQ, religion, ethnicity). There is no formal way to apply under the Scheme.

If accepted you will be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain. Some already in the UK will only have 6 months leave to remain with access to public funds. This should be upgraded automatically.

The Home Office has identified 3 routes for people who may qualify

  • Those already identified as at risk and evacuated to the UK. Those authorised for evacuation, but who were not able to leave will also qualify if they can make it to the UK.
  • Those who have escaped from Afghanistan but remain in the region will be assessed by UNHCR for eligibility for the scheme. No more details provided at this stage.
  • Those still in Afghanistan (where they can leave) or who have managed to leave can be referred by local NGOs. No more details have been provided at this stage.

Spouses, partners and dependent children under the age of 18 will be eligible for the scheme. Other family members may be resettled in exceptional circumstances.

All those brought to the UK under ACRS will have the right to work, access to education and healthcare and be able to apply for public funds.

Advice

If you have been evacuated to the UK and not under the ARAP scheme, you should contact the Home Office if you only have 6 months leave to remain. Your MP should be able to help with this.

You should be able to access benefits but you will need to apply for this through the JobCentrePlus.

Those evacuated on this basis are likely to have a 6 month visa. They are now entitled to Indefinite Leave to Remain. This also applies to those called forward by the UK government but who were unable to be evacuated to the UK, if they can now get to the UK. There is no further detail as to the procedure for obtaining ILR.

Advice

If you were evacuated on this basis then you should approach your MP for help to clarify what you need to do to obtain ILR.

You should be able to access benefits but you will need to apply for this through the JobCentrePlus.

They will need to apply under the normal Immigration Rules, either for family members or another route, and meet the criteria and pay the fees. The requirements have not been relaxed and so people in Afghanistan are unable to apply unless they can leave the country. Those outside Afghanistan can apply through the normal routes.

Advice

Unless you can leave Afghanistan then you are unable to apply. If you are outside of Afghanistan then you should obtain legal advice about your position.

You will be able to apply for further leave but must meet most of the rules and pay the fee. The requirement to produce ID documents is likely to be waived due to the situation in Afghanistan. You can also switch from a visa that does not normally allow this to a different category of visa, so do not have to leave the UK to apply.

No further details have been provided at this stage.

Advice

You should obtain legal advice before your current visa/leave to remain expires.

Pre-existing partners and dependent children under 18 qualify under the Rules and can apply. There is no possibility of doing this from within Afghanistan, but if have left then you can apply in the country where you are.

Other family members may exceptionally also qualify.

Advice

You should seek advice from a lawyer about whether family members are able to apply.

If you have claimed asylum but are waiting for a decision from the Home Office, or for a court hearing date then the Home Office will not look at your case until they have new guidance about the situation in Afghanistan. They will ask the court to adjourn your hearing.

Advice

You should push for a decision on your case now, either through your legal representative, or your MP. If you do not have a legal representative because you have been refused Legal Aid, you are now likely to qualify for Legal Aid and should contact a Legal Aid lawyer to see if they can now take on your case.

If your asylum claim has previously been refused then you may well be able to make further submissions (a fresh claim) to the Home Office given the change in Afghanistan. You will need to ‘phone them to make an appointment to go to Liverpool to hand in your fresh claim.

Advice

Although you are likely to have a good fresh claim it is better to have a lawyer to do this for you if possible. Contact a lawyer and provide them with the decisions in your case to see if they can take on your case.