Afghanistan asylum support


There are a confusing number of routes Afghans can come to the UK.

Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). ARAP was for people who have worked for the coalition and started in December 2000, while ACRS is just starting now. Essentially, they are both similar to the Syrian or the Hong Kong Chinese resettlement programme. They have refugee status with the right to housing, benefits, work as well as government support funding.

We do not know if any Afghans under these schemes will be coming to Southampton. The local authorities Southampton City Council, Portsmouth City Council and HCC will be contacted and take responsibly for them and as far as we know nothing has happened yet. As they come with leave to remain and a whole package of funding and support SWVG will not be particularly involved with them.

There will also be many Afghans who do not fit these schemes and will not come with refugee leave to remain status but go through the normal contorted Home Office asylum process. Some may come to Southampton as a dispersal area. SWVG will be working with this group in fact we are already supporting several Afghan asylum seekers.

The Government introduced a new Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy to offer relocation or other assistance to current and former Locally Employed Staff (LES) in Afghanistan to reflect the changing situation in Afghanistan.

The resettlement programme is offered to LES whom the UK government considers to have put themselves in the most danger and contributed the most to the UK mission in Afghanistan. The Relocation Offer is based on recognition of service and an assessment of likely current and future risk to LES due to the nature of their work for the UK government in the evolving situation in Afghanistan. It is similar to the Syrian Resettlement programme.

Successful applicants receive a UK visa, which grants 5 years Leave to Enter the UK, with an opportunity in the future to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK at the end of that 5-year period. Eligible LES will be able to bring certain family members with them to the UK.

Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS)

The UK Government’s resettlement route for Afghan refugees following the recent crisis, The Afghan citizens resettlement scheme (ACRS), will provide protection for people at risk and identified as in need. It is one of the UK’s most ambitious resettlement schemes ever. The ACRS will prioritise those people who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan who face a particular risk from the Taliban, for example because of their stand for democracy and human rights, or because of their gender, sexuality, or religion. The Government has committed to welcome around 5,000 people in the first year and up to 20,000 over the coming years. This is in addition to the ARAP scheme, which has already resettled thousands of Afghans who have worked with the UK Government, and their families. The Home Office say “the route will be kept under constant review and will be operationally flexible given the challenging circumstances. The scheme is not yet open (13th September 2021). Further details will be announced in due course.

Update from from ASAP (Asylum Support Appeals Project) Oct 2021

Eligibility for asylum support for Afghans:

Information and advice for Afghans who have recently arrived on one of the resettlement schemes can be found here:
We understand that those who have arrived on these schemes are granted leave to remain with recourse to public funds.
Outside the resettlement procedures, there is no special treatment for Afghan asylum-seekers or refused asylum-seekers. There are over 3000 Afghans with outstanding asylum applications and there will be many more in the UK who have previously been refused asylum. At present, there is no expedited procedure for granting all Afghans asylum applications nor to allow previously refused Afghans to apply make further submissions.
On the 16th August 2021 the Home Office withdrew their country guidance on Afghanistan. This has not been replaced. We understand the Home Office will likely request adjournments in ongoing asylum appeals until this guidance has been replaced. For those Afghans who have been previously refused asylum, they will need to make further submissions. Since the 2nd of August the Home Office have recommenced the requirement for further submissions to be made in person at the Further Submission unit in Liverpool, Glasgow or Belfast.
For further advice on claiming asylum and making further submissions see here:
Afghan asylum-seekers and refused asylum seekers may be eligible for asylum support.

Section 95 support

Destitute asylum-seekers are eligible for s95 support. Afghans who are asylum-seekers and are not yet appeals rights exhausted (ARE) can apply for s95 support.
On the 19th July 2021 the Home Office restarted evictions from asylum support. The Home Office began the cessations with refused asylum-seekers who had remained on s95 support due to the pandemic. This includes Afghan asylum-seekers who became ARE over the last year. There is no right of appeal against a decision to stop s95 support where the applicant is no longer an asylum-seeker. This cohort of people will need to apply for s4 support.

Section 4 support

Refused asylum-seekers may be eligible for s4 support if they meet one of the criteria outlined under reg 3(2).

Taking all reasonable steps 3(2)(a) 

The Home Office has suspended forced returns to Afghanistan. However, it may still be possible to register your interest with the Assisted Voluntary Return team. ASAP does not recommend that refused asylum-seekers apply for support under this category unless they are willing to return.

No viable route of return 3(2)(c)

The Secretary for State has not declared that there is no viable route of return. 3(2)(c) is therefore not an option.

Breach of Human Rights 3(2)(e)

Afghans who have previously been refused asylum will have to rely on 3(2)e when applying for s4 support.
We understand that the Home Office is likely to suggest that Afghans will need to make further subs in order to be eligible for s4 support under 3(2)(e). If the further submissions have not yet been lodged this does not necessarily mean that an applicant cannot get support.
Given the situation in Afghanistan, it is likely that many Afghan clients will be able to point to a material change of circumstances that give grounds for a new, non-abusive fresh claim.
Ideally, Afghans who have previously been refused asylum will have instructed a solicitor who can clearly articulate the nature of the new claim and give a time-frame for completion of the further submissions.
However, provided they are taking proactive steps to advance that claim, it might be argued they qualify for s4 support even if they are not yet ready to submit it. The Home Office will probably reject applications for s4 support on that basis, but it’s possible that the tribunal will adopt a more nuanced approach on appeal (this is untested, as yet).
Arguably it is not reasonable to expect someone to return to Afghanistan to avoid destitution while they are perusing a fresh claim, given the change of circumstances in Afghanistan. The ‘mere assertion’ that the applicant intends to make further submissions is not likely to be sufficient (see AS/14/11/32141). The applicant would need to show what steps they have taken to get legal advice on their further submissions, the barriers they faced in doing so and be able to articulate the nature of the further submissions. Other factors such as the age, health and gender of the applicant may also be relevant for the assessment of whether or not it is reasonable to expect the applicant to leave the UK to avoid destitution. The closer the applicant is to lodging their fresh claim, the stronger their case for s4 eligibility becomes.
One proactive step that all Afghan refused asylum-seekers can take (if still needing to find a solicitor) is submitting a subject access request for their immigration file. The onus is then on the Home Office to respond, and the solicitor (when instructed) will obviously need this information in due course.

In summary:

There is no blanket eligibility for s4 support for all Afghan refused asylum-seekers. Each applicant will have to make an individual case as to why it is not reasonable for them to leave the UK to avoid destitution. Eligibility is likely to arise because they are pursuing a fresh claim, but other factors such as age, gender and vulnerability may play a part in the multifactorial human rights assessment.