UNHCR UK information and links on Afghanistan Situation
The following information is to assist persons hoping to leave Afghanistan or persons with friends or family in Afghanistan or who are forcibly displaced in the region.
The UK Government has announced two schemes to support Afghan nationals: the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). UNHCR is not involved in the ARAP, and it is only involved with the second cohort of the ACRS. UNHCR is not involved in identifying persons to be transferred to the UK under Pathway 1 and 3 of the ACRS.
Afghan Relocations and Assistant Policy (ARAP)
This scheme offers relocation or other assistance to former Locally Employed Staff (LES) in Afghanistan to reflect the changing situation in Afghanistan. UNHCR is not involved in this scheme. The ARAP scheme was launched on 1 April 2021 and remains open.
If any former LES believe they qualify, they should apply by using the online application form available here: Application For Relocation To The United Kingdom Under ARAP (office.com). They will be eligible to apply from any country (including Afghanistan and regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served).
More information can be found here: Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy: further information on eligibility criteria, offer details and how to apply – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
If an applicant is successful under the ARAP scheme, they will have the opportunity to apply for indefinite leave to enter the UK. Applicants already in the UK with temporary status under ARAP can apply, free of charge, to convert their status to indefinite leave to remain. Eligible applicants will be able to bring certain family members with them to the UK.
You can contact the Home Office with questions related to the ARAP scheme by using this form: ARAP Contact Us با ما تماس بگیرید موږ سره اړیکه ونیسئ (office.com). UNHCR is not involved in this form.
Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS)
The UK Government formally opened the ACRS on 6 January 2022. There is no application process for the ACRS. Prioritisation and referral for the ACRS will be in one of three ways which can be found here: Afghan citizens resettlement scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
UNHCR is only involved with Pathway 2 of the ACRS, which is the referral of Afghan refugees, who, by definition, are individuals outside of their country of origin, and who are deemed in need of resettlement. Therefore, Afghan nationals inside of Afghanistan cannot be referred under Pathway 2 of the ACRS.
The UK Government opened referrals under Pathway 2 on 13 June 2022. Any referrals to Pathway 2 of the ACRS will be in line with UNHCR’s resettlement procedures. This means that resettlement will be based on an individual refugee’s protection needs in the country where they reside, and refugees cannot apply for resettlement. Further information can be found: Resettlement – UNHCR Frequently asked questions .
Please find below Frequently Asked Questions on the ACRS and UNHCR’s involvement.
Who will UNHCR refer under Pathway 2?
UNHCR will refer Afghan refugees to Pathway 2 of the ACRS in accordance with UNHCR’s resettlement submission categories. For more information on the submission categories please see: https://www.unhcr.org/46f7c0ee2.html
UNHCR identifies people who are most at risk of serious harm in the country where they reside. These risks are assessed when responding to the specific needs of individuals and families, taking into account the local context, the availability of legal and physical protection, the accessibility of relevant services, the prospects for returning safely to their home country and the principle of family unity.
UNHCR will make most referrals from Iran and Pakistan. Those who have been in protracted situations as well as those fleeing Afghanistan more recently will be considered for resettlement.
Resettlement is not a right. Resettlement countries offer limited quotas, meaning that most refugees cannot be considered for resettlement to another country even if UNHCR believes it would be necessary for their protection or to reunite them with family members. UNHCR will prioritize the most urgent cases for referral to a resettlement country.
For more information, please see: https://help.unhcr.org/faq/how-can-we-help-you/resettlement/
How can an individual be referred to Pathway 2? Can they, their family members or legal representatives, apply for resettlement under the ACRS?
It is not possible to apply for resettlement under Pathway 2 of the ACRS.
Refugees, family members or legal representatives, cannot apply to be resettled and cannot register with UNHCR for resettlement.
Please do not approach UNHCR or partner agencies seeking resettlement consideration. UNHCR will identify resettlement cases based on the information on record about the needs of individuals and families. Individuals should contact UNHCR in the country where they have sought asylum to raise protection concerns. If UNHCR determines that an individual may have a resettlement case, UNHCR will contact the individual directly. Resettlement is free as are all services provided by UNHCR or its partners. If someone has asked you or a family member for money in exchange for resettlement or other services, please report this to UNHCR.
If I register with UNHCR, will I automatically be referred under Pathway 2 of the ACRS?
In some countries, the national authorities have assumed responsibility to receive and register asylum applications. In other countries, where, in the absence of a national procedure, applications may be lodged with the UNHCR. When an individual approaches UNHCR to apply for asylum and register as an asylum-seeker, they are doing so for the purpose of obtaining international protection. An individual does not apply for asylum in order to be moved to a third country. Therefore, registering with UNHCR does not entail automatic referral for resettlement under Pathway 2 of the ACRS.
Support for Afghans in Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries
UNHCR cannot identify or refer Afghan nationals inside Afghanistan for resettlement, evacuation or relocation to the UK under the ACRS. For more information on state-led evacuations, please visit the UNHCR Afghanistan Help Page here: Relocation Programmes – UNHCR Afghanistan.
The refugee resettlement programmes are intended to provide a solution for the most vulnerable and at-risk refugees. Refugees are people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country. As such, resettlement is only considered for Afghans who have sought international protection outside of Afghanistan.
How do I contact UNHCR?
If you are in Afghanistan or in a neighbouring country, or you have friends and families who are there, you may wish to refer them to UNHCR Help Pages:
- UNHCR Afghanistan – Help for refugees and asylum-seekers
- UNHCR Iran – Help for refugees and asylum-seekers
- UNHCR Pakistan – Help for refugees and asylum-seekers
- UNHCR Central Asia – Help for refugees and asylum-seekers
Please note, the UK Government has a helpline that can be used if you are a non-British national in Afghanistan or are a family member of a non-British national in Afghanistan, and in need of assistance, call: +44 2475 389 980 (or 02475 389 980 in the UK).