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Operation Warm Welcome

Dost Malik discusses the new resettlement scheme announced. He is an immigration practitioner specialising in Asylum and Immigration Law.

New Asylum Policy for Afghan Nationals

Today, the Government announced some “Good News for Afghans”.

The new scheme named ‘Operation Warm Welcome’ focuses on the resettlement of Afghans in the UK. It is likely to be a great support to those looking to rebuild their lives, re-join their families, find jobs, pursue education and be a part of a diverse community. This operation is particularly focussed on assisting the vulnerable such as women wishing to continue to pursue careers.

According to this resettlement plan, those Afghans whose asylum applications have been refused or their appeal is still pending at the Immigration & Asylum Tribunal are given priority. The Home Office assigned a team of case workers to deal with these; while accelerating the screening process.

The Government promises to accept up to 20,000 Afghans in the upcoming years. By the end of this year, they expect 5,000 to be re-homed in the UK.

What is the resettlement scheme?

According to the new plan, those entering the UK through the resettlement scheme would be granted indefinite leave to remain. From the 1st September 2021, all Afghans that have worked closely with the British Armed Forces in Kabul or Government of Afghanistan would be eligible.

Those Afghans who have already relocated to the UK under Afghanistan Relocation and Assistance policy (ARAP) are able to convert their limited leave to remain into indefinite leave. There are no additional Home Office fees for this. 

Furthermore, the Government is also considering amnesty for Afghans, available to those whose application and appeal has previously been refused. It also includes those who have been issued a red notice or removal notice and are still in the UK. 

Kabul airport was locked last night at 12:00am. All type of travel is restricted from Afghanistan. The FCO has advised to stay away from the Kabul airport and wait for further instructions from the British consulate. 

As the Government is aware that a lot of British Afghanis are worried and devastated about their families. Their concern is for the safety and wellbeing of their loved ones. The Government did not announce anything yet for British Afghani Citizens. It seems likely that all the applications will be processed from the neighbouring countries. Dominic Raab announced he would be visiting to discuss this with neighbouring Pakistan. There is a high probability that it would be similar to the Syrian Resettlement Programme and all the cases will be screened through a central portal. 

Free English Language courses will also be offered to the successful applicants. The Government has announced  £5 million funding to councils to provide housing support, vaccinations, mental health and for the trauma support.

Now the question is ‘Did the Syrian resettlement scheme work?’

According to charities and officials, it is considered as a success.

Under this scheme a total number of 20,080 Syrian refugees started a new life in the UK since 2015. The Government collaborated with UNHCR to identify people including women and children who were victims of torture.

They were granted refugee status with full rights to work. It is widely marked as a successful scheme helping Syrians integrate in to their new communities and lives.

The Government has not yet announced any route for those who are in the Afghanistan but they continue to announce plans to ensure the safety of any at risk Afghans.