- Can Afghan Citizens Claim Asylum In The UK?
- How Do I Claim Asylum As An Afghan Citizen?
- The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme
- Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme Granted: What Are My Rights?
- What Benefits Do Afghan Refugees Seekers Get From The Government?
- How Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help You
- Frequently Asked Questions
Can Afghan Citizens Claim Asylum In The UK?
Whilst anybody can claim asylum in the UK, whether claims are accepted or not is another question. Up until 30 June 2023, around 21,500 people have been given Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) status and about 70% of these people arrived as a result of the fall of Kabul.
However, the amount of Afghans seeking asylum is over three times this number and most of these asylum seekers arrived in the UK illegally, usually via highly dangerous small boat crossings.
If you wish to claim asylum in the UK as an Afghan refugee, you will need to make sure that you are fleeing your country because of a fear of persecution.
This persecution must be based on your ethnicity, race, nationality, political opinion, or any other factor that puts you at risk due to the political situation within Afghanistan. Examples of this include gender identity and sexual orientation.
However, the government will not accept your asylum claim if you are a citizen of a European country, if you travelled to the UK through a ‘safe third country’ or if you have a reasonable connection to a ‘safe third country.’
The Home Office describes a ‘safe third country’ as one where you are not a citizen, where you would not be harmed, and where you would not be sent to another country where you may be harmed.
These limitations are in place to ensure that Afghans who need the most help are assisted.
How Do I Claim Asylum As An Afghan Citizen?
The asylum process has a few main steps and there are many documents you will need as part of your application. The first thing you will do, though, is arrive at a UK port of entry and inform the border security staff that you want to apply for asylum.
At this point, you will be taken to see an immigration officer or caseworker who will do your asylum screening with you. This is when you will be asked who you are and where you have come from.
You will also have your fingerprints and photographs taken. If you already live in the UK when you apply for asylum then you will likely complete your asylum screening over the phone.
The asylum screening is where you will need to hand over the documents for your application. You will need travel documents and your passport as well as any documents that show where you are living in the UK, such as:
- Household bills
- Tenancy agreement
- Council tax notice
- Bank statement
However, if you are living in somebody else’s accommodation then you will need a document with their full name and address. You will also need a letter no less than 3 months old that states their permission for you to stay in their accommodation.
Regardless of where you live, you will also need a document that explains why you are claiming asylum. It is also a good idea to include any additional documents that might support your application, such as hospital or other medical records.
Once this is done, you will be given an Application Record Card that includes all the information relating to your asylum claim such as your name, address, medical requirements, and permissions to work.
After your screening has been processed you will likely be invited to attend an interview with your caseworker or immigration officer. You and any of your dependents must attend.
This is where you can explain your story. Why do you fear persecution in your home country? Why have you chosen to claim asylum in the UK? You must open up about any relevant details in this interview as it is your one chance to lay everything on the table.
Otherwise, any information you choose to withhold might be used against you when a decision is being made.
After your interview, you will need to wait for a decision. In some cases, the Home Office will ask for additional documents or another interview to help them make a decision. If your asylum claim is accepted then you will be granted refugee status and any asylum support you have been given will end in 28 days.
However, if your asylum claim is denied then you will need to leave the country. If the government wishes to put you in a removal centre and remove you forcibly then they will send you a letter first, notifying you of this decision.
If you want to appeal against your decision then you will not have to leave the country until your appeal has been heard and a decision has been made.
In some cases, you may be detained in an immigration removal centre while you wait for a decision. If your asylum claim is accepted then you will be released with permission to stay in the UK. If your claim is denied then you will be removed from the country. However, certain people are not allowed to be detained, and these include:
- Pregnant people
- The elderly
- Those who have children with them
- Victims of human trafficking or modern slave
- Anybody with a mental or physical condition that would not be managed in a detainment centre
The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme
If you are unable to travel to the UK to claim asylum then there are other options to become a refugee within the UK. One scheme exclusive to Afghans is the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). This was set up after the Afghanistan withdrawal at the end of 2021. The government initially made room for 5,000 resettled Afghans and then pledged to accommodate a further 20,000 per year, making this a great option.
The ACRS is split into three pathways to make sure that the most vulnerable Afghans get assistance, and these are as follows:
- Anybody who is vulnerable and who has been put at risk as a result of the evacuation programme, such as women and girls, and any members or minority groups who are now at risk as a result of the new current political situation in the country
- People who have been referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) according to their submission categories (importantly, these referrals are separate from cases put forward as part of the UK Resettlement Scheme)
- Those who supported the UK and who are at risk after standing up for key values such as democracy, women’s rights, and the rule of law
There are three other schemes that you could also apply for, although these are open to applicants from all countries.
The UK Resettlement Scheme is the main scheme open for refugees. The UNHCR selects refugees and proposes these to governments who then decide on who they want to accept. However, the refugee must fall under one of the following ‘submission categories’ to be eligible:
- Legal and/or physical protection needs
- Family reunification
- Women and girls at risk
- Medical needs
- Children and adolescents at risk
- Lack of foreseeable alternative durable solutions
- Survivors of violence and/or torture
The Community Sponsorship Scheme allows community members to welcome refugees into neighbourhoods through a sponsoring family. The Mandate Resettlement Scheme is for anybody who wishes to come to the UK and whose close family members already live here and are willing to accommodate them. The eligibility criteria for both the Community Sponsorship Scheme and the Mandate Resettlement Scheme are based on the criteria for the UK Resettlement Scheme.
Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme Granted: What Are My Rights?
In March 2023 the government announced that it would be placing resettled Afghan refugees in hotels until appropriate permanent residency is found. This is because there is a huge backlog of asylum case applications that need to be housed while their cases are considered.
If you have been accepted under the ARAP then you will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK free of charge. However, because you do not have refugee status, you will not be able to sponsor family members under the Refugee Family Reunion Rules.
As part of your integration, you will be given a national insurance number which will be used for things like opening a bank and paying taxes.
What Benefits Do Afghan Refugees Seekers Get From The Government?
If you are granted refugee status then you are allowed to live in the UK for five years under its protection. You will be permitted to work, so this means you can undertake employment or start a business. You will also have access to the NHS and free state education.
If you are unable to find employment straight away then there are benefits options that you are entitled to, and these include:
- Universal Credit
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefits
- A refugee integration loan
Claiming asylum is complex and it is common for asylum seekers to get overwhelmed by the process. However, there are a few key routes available to you if you are an Afghan citizen so it is important to know the differences before you apply.
Here at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers, we understand how important and life-changing it can be to be granted asylum or to resettle in the UK. We can help with any applications, appeals, or paperwork relating to asylum and we can also help if you are having problems with visas, citizenship, or permission to work. Simply call 0121 667 6530 or get in touch with us online.
Last modified on November 16th, 2023 at 9:42 am
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There are two dedicated routes for Afghan refugees to resettle to the UK and the UK will also consider asylum seekers who arrive in the UK through a legal route.
In 2022, around 11,000 Afghans and their dependents applied for asylum in the UK.
Asylum seekers who are receiving assistance from Section 95 asylum support will receive around £47 per week, plus additional amounts for pregnant people, babies, or children between 1 and 3.
Around 21,500 Afghans have been accepted into the UK through the two designated resettlement schemes as of June 2023.