The UK formally opened the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) on 6 January 2022. The new Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) 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. The focus of the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) will be on those people who remain in Afghanistan or the region, primarily Afghan nationals although nationals of other countries, for example in mixed nationality families, will also be eligible. Spouses, partners and dependent children under the age of 18 of eligible individuals will be eligible for the scheme. Other family members may be resettled in exceptional circumstances.
The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) demonstrates the government’s New Plan for Immigration in action, to expand and strengthen safe and legal routes to the UK for those in need of protection.
Application Process Under The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS)
There is no application process for the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). Prioritisation and referral for resettlement will be in one of 3 ways:
- Vulnerable and at-risk individuals who arrived in the UK under the evacuation programme will be the first to be settled under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (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. The first Afghan families have been granted ILR under the scheme.
- Secondly, from spring 2022, the UNHCR will refer refugees in need of resettlement who have fled Afghanistan. The UNHCR has the global mandate to provide international protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees. The Home Office, UKVI will continue to receive such referrals to the scheme in coming years.
- The third referral pathway will relocate 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 UK government will offer Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) places to the most at risk British Council and Garda World contractors and Chevening alumni. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will be in touch with those eligible to support them through next steps. Beyond the first year, the government will work with international partners and NGOs to welcome wider groups of Afghans at risk.
Anyone who is resettled through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) will receive indefinite leave to enter or remain (ILR) in the UK, and will be able to apply for British citizenship after 5 years in the UK under existing rules.