As the world watches the situation in Afghanistan unfold, our immigration team has been observing the options open to many wishing to flee the country searching for a haven. In the last few days, we have witnessed desperate scenes in Afghanistan. The situation has left us all at Deo Volente Solicitors incredibly worried for the safety of many who live there.
Indeed, numerous clients have contacted us in the last few days, many of whom have lost all contact with family members in Afghanistan due to a communications blackout. So, what are the options available to nationals over there? On 18 August, the Home Office announced that a new immigration route would be opened for people fleeing Afghanistan.
The Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme will allow 5,000 citizens to travel to the UK if they are vulnerable to bringing 20,000 people to the UK in the long term. However, details are currently limited, with the Home Office stating that “further details will be announced in due course” as the scheme is not yet open.
According to the Home Office, priority will be given to women, girls, religious and other minorities, who are most at risk of human rights abuses. Once published, it would be interesting to see the necessary criteria for acceptance onto the scheme and how quickly a decision on any application is submitted.
The new route has been modelled on the Syrian vulnerable person resettlement scheme, which resettled 20,000 Syrian refugees over a seven-year period from2014 to 2021.
The Home Office state that the new route is separate from, and in addition to, the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which offers any current or former locally-employed staff, which are assessed to be under serious threat to life, priority relocation to the UK.
This scheme is expected to relocate 5,000 former Afghan staff and their family members to the UK. For those of our clients who may be of Afghan heritage but have gone on to become British citizens, it would normally be the case that many family members would need to meet the stricter family visa requirements, including the financial and English language requirements, as well as having a TB test.
However, with the lack of infrastructure currently in the region, it is unlikely that any family members of settled people in the UK who are in Afghanistan currently would be able to evidence the English language and TB requirements or even attend a visa appointment.
At Deo Volent Solicitors, we closely monitor the new Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme developments. We are here to assist any of our clients who require further advice and assistance.