Afghans who worked for the British military and government and their families will be permitted to remain in the UK indefinitely as soon as they arrive, the government said on Wednesday.
The new policy applies to those who resettle in the UK under the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which was designed to protect the UK’s Afghan staff who are at risk of retaliation from the Taliban.
The ARAP was launched on April 1, long before Afghanistan fell back into Taliban control. The government said that people who already relocated to the UK under ARAP can apply free of charge to convert their temporary leave into indefinite leave.
“This will give Afghans the certainty and stability to rebuild their lives with unrestricted rights to work and the option to apply for British citizenship in the future,” the government said in a cross-department statement.
This is part of the government’s “Operation Warm Welcome” to settle the Afghans evacuated by the Royal Air Force. About 15,000 British and Afghan nationals were airlifted out of Kabul over the two-week evacuation, over 8,000 of whom are ARAP claimants.
At least £12 million ($16.5 million) will be made available to make additional school places for the children and to provide them with school transport, specialist teachers, and English language support.
Funding will also be available for up to 300 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships for Afghans at UK universities.
Adults who need English language courses will be able to access them free of charge, the government said.
Additional funding will be provided to help ARAP arrivals access healthcare and housing.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he’s “determined” to help the Afghans integrate into the UK.
“We owe an immense debt to those who worked with the Armed Forces in Afghanistan and I am determined that we give them and their families the support they need to rebuild their lives here in the UK,” Johnson said.
“I know this will be an incredibly daunting time, but I hope they will take heart from the wave of support and generosity already expressed by the British public.”
A separate Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme, which is expected to relocate 20,000 Afghans who are most at risk of human rights abuses and dehumanising treatment by the Taliban, is still under development.
Afghan resettlement minister Victoria Atkins said the government is yet to make a decision on whether or not these individuals will also be granted indefinite leave to remain.