The UK government has maintained a humanitarian programme to resettle Afghans at risk of persecution since 2022. This programme, called the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), is in response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, where many people are facing persecution, violence and human rights abuses.
ACRS is separate from the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) for current and former locally employed staff who worked for the UK government or the British armed forces in Afghanistan. An Afghan national who needs protection and does not qualify for the ARAP may be eligible for the ACRS. It is important to note that the ACRS is also separate from the normal asylum process, which is for those who have already fled Afghanistan and are in the UK or a third country.
In case you are an Afghan national who is in Afghanistan and needs protection. In that case, you may be eligible for the ACRS. This post will briefly explain the ACRS, who is eligible, how the process works, and how Axis Solicitors can help you assess your case.
What is the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme?
The ACRS is a humanitarian scheme that aims to resettle up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghans in the UK. The programme is based on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), which resettled over 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK between 2014 and 2020. Individuals at risk of human rights violations and persecution in Afghanistan are given priority. However, it also considers Afghans with an established connection to the UK.
With the creation of the ACRS, the government intends to provide a safe and legal route for Afghans needing protection to start a new life in the UK. Those accepted into the ACRS will be offered a five-year humanitarian protection visa, enabling them to work, study, and access public services & benefits.
Moreover, they can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after five years. Once accepted and processed, they will also have access to accommodation, financial support, English language classes and integration assistance.
Who can apply for the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme?
The ACRS is not open for direct applications from individuals. The UK government will work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other international partners to identify and refer suitable Afghans. Afterwards, the UK government conducts security and medical checks before issuing visas toaccepted Afghans.
Priority goes to the Afghans considered to be the most at risk of human rights violations and persecution by the Taliban, for instance, women, religious & ethnic minorities, human rights activists, journalists, or LGBT+ individuals. This scheme also includes individuals connected to the UK, such as former UK students and Afghans with family members living in the UK.
Nevertheless, the ACRS is not intended for those who have already fled Afghanistan and are in a third country, such as Pakistan or Iran. Instead, the UK instructs Afghans in a third country to register with the UNHCR and seek protection there.
Likewise, the ACRS is not meant for those who have already arrived in the UK and have claimed asylum or any other immigration status. Vulnerable individuals seeking refuge who are already inside the UK must pursue the normal asylum process by claiming asylum. Our experts at Axis Solicitors Limited are always ready to assist you with any asylum application.
How to apply for the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme?
As mentioned above, the ACRS is not open for direct individual applications. The UK government will work with the UNHCR and other international partners to identify and refer eligible Afghans for the programme. Afterwards, the government conducts security and medical checks and issues visas for accepted individuals.
Being an Afghan national in Afghanistan who needs protection, you should contact the UNHCR or another humanitarian organisation that can assist you and refer you to the ACRS if you are eligible.
Suppose you are an Afghan national who is in the UK and has a family member or a close connection who remains in Afghanistan but needs protection. In that case, you can sponsor them for the ACRS if they are eligible. For the best outcome, we recommend choosing a legal representative to contact the Home Office on your behalf and to advise you further on this process. You can always contact Axis Solicitors for a free consultation.
How can Axis Solicitors help you with your application?
Axis Solicitors Limited is a leading UK immigration law firm with trained solicitors specialising in helping individuals and families with immigration and asylum matters. With an experienced and qualified team, we can advise you on your eligibility and options for the ACRS or the ARAP. Alternatively, we may suggest another immigration route to serve your situation better. Furthermore, we can also assist you with your application process, from preparing your documents and evidence to liaising with the Home Office and the UNHCR on your behalf. Our experts can continue advising you during any appeals or judicial reviews arising from the process.
If you are interested in applying for the ACRS or want to know more about it, please contact us for a consultation. We will assess the situation during this consultation and recommend the best action. Let us guide you through the process to ensure you have the best chance of success. Axis Solicitors is here to help you and your family start a new life in the UK.