A significant cross-government effort is underway, ‘Operation Warm Welcome’, to ensure Afghans arriving in the UK receive the vital support they need to rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education and integrate into their local communities.
As part of the New Plan for Immigration, the government announced that those coming to the UK through resettlement routes would receive immediate indefinite leave to remain. On September 1 the Home Secretary announced that this will apply to Afghans who worked closely with the British military and UK Government in Afghanistan, and risked their lives in doing so, meaning they can now stay in the UK without any time restrictions.
The support for Afghan arrivals includes:
- £3 million of additional NHS funding so that Afghans arriving under the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme can access healthcare and register with a GP once they leave quarantine;
- all are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine and so far more than 700 arrivals under the ARAP scheme have left quarantine and received their first vaccination, with more leaving and receiving a jab each day;
- £5 million funding for councils in England, Wales and Scotland to support Afghans coming to the UK via the ARAP scheme and provide a top up to help meet the costs of renting properties;
- the Government is already working with more than 100 councils across the UK to meet the demand for housing, with over 2,000 places already confirmed;
- the Communities Secretary will convene a roundtable with council leaders from across the country;
- to harness the generosity of the British public and make sure those who want to help know where to turn we will launch an online portal to allow people to submit offers of support for people arriving from Afghanistan;
- this portal is already available to submit offers of housing and work is now underway to expand this to further offers, such as job opportunities, professional skills training or donations of items like clothes or toys; and
- £200 million has been committed to meet the cost of the first year of the Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme, which aims to welcome up to 20,000 Afghans.
People already relocated to the UK under the ARAP scheme will be able to 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 leave granted to those resettled in the UK ensures access to benefits and services, and we are working with local authorities to ensure individuals can access DWP services as quickly as possible alongside the comprehensive support package. When they’re ready, repatriated Afghans will also have the right to work, and our jobcentre teams will be there to help them with that. If you wish to help with employing people from these groups, please do get in touch at EMPLOYER.ADVICE@DWP.GOV.UK.
Property owners or organisations who may be able to assist can get in touch through the GOV.UK portal.