Many of you have been in contact with my office since mid-August when the news first broke about the Taliban’s resurgence and subsequent takeover of Afghanistan.  It has been a deeply saddening and challenging time for all, with many of my constituents either stuck in Afghanistan themselves having to seek a way to flee the country or having family members there whose lives have been placed in danger by the Taliban and are in desperate need of being evacuated or offered assistance with leaving the country as quickly as possible.

As many of you may be aware, I have made hundreds of representations on this matter for constituents such as yourself who have been deeply affected by the tragic situation in Afghanistan.  My office has processed in the region of 500 cases over the last few weeks or so, with my small team doing their best to rise to the challenge and meet the increasing demand for help, advice and assistance – often working around the clock.

The situation has been extremely fast-changing and a time of great anxiety for you all.  I have however, throughout the duration continued to do my utmost to bring whatever relief I can through the interventions of my office whilst continuing to press the Government for immediate and decisive action.

Sadly, following the statement of the Rt Hon Dominic Raab, then Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, last Friday 10 September about how MPs’ correspondence in relation to Afghanistan on behalf of their constituents was being handled, my office, and many other MPs’ offices, have had no further responses to our representations to the Home Office, the FCO or the ARAP schemes.

Further to this, we learnt on Monday 13 September from the statement in Parliament of Victoria Atkins MP, the Minister for Afghan Resettlement that it is clear that we will not receive any responses regarding constituent cases from now onwards.

The Government stated:

“We must deal with the circumstances as they are, rather than as we would wish them to be. This new reality means that, at present, we cannot provide MPs assessments or updates on those individuals who remain in Afghanistan and whose cases they have raised. We appreciate that is difficult news to deliver to constituents who are desperately worried about family members and friends. With great regret, we will not be able, therefore, to respond to colleagues with specific updates on individuals. The deteriorating security situation means that such information is not possible to obtain or may change very quickly.”

I have attached the full letter to this for your attention.  Should you wish to read the full Parliamentary statement, you will find it here:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-09-13/debates/D8892FE7-5BFE-431C-8CBE-F64B45D19995/AfghanistanPolicy

I want to be clear that I find the Government’s response disgraceful, especially given the time and effort we have spent logging your families’ details with the Home Office and relevant departments.  I can only apologise for this very distressing news delivered by this Conservative Government.

There is no guarantee that any of our emails have been read or logged, MPs have now been asked to simply signpost you to the guidance provided rather than seek to pursue cases on your behalf.

The Government has asked that you directly apply yourself for relocation. Please follow the following links to make an application (these links will be made available on my website): 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghan-relocations-and-assistance-policy

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/afghan-citizens-resettlement-scheme

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/afghanistan-uk-government-response

British nationals 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) have advised British nationals in Afghanistan, who have not already done so, to register their presence to receive important updates at: https://www.register-afghanistan.service.csd.fcdo.gov.uk/afghanistan-20210828/confirm-your-presence-in-afghanistan-to-fcdo

We are aware that British nationals and others wishing to leave Afghanistan are desperate for information about third-party countries they may try to get to. The FCDO says that British nationals remaining in Afghanistan are advised to consider carefully the risks should they attempt to leave the country by any route. To speak to an FCDO consular officer, please call  (+44) (0)207 008 500 or +44 1908 516 666

Due to the shifting landscape, I have also provided a clear table of all the available immigration routes which you will also find in the ARAP document on the reception desk at the Advice Surgery (along with other useful information) and on the first link above, for ease of reference.  All applications must be made online.  It is worth also stating that the resettlement scheme is not yet open and you are advised to check the relevant webpage regularly.

In many instances constituents may require legal assistance to make the necessary applications, a process with which I am unfortunately not permitted to intervene as a Member of Parliament.  I have provided below some organisations that may be of assistance in that regard.

Useful Contacts

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)

441 Caledonian Road

London

N7 9BG

Phone: 020 7251 8708

Fax: 020 7251 8707

Email: info@jcwi.org.uk

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (jcwi.org.uk)

Refugee Council

Homepage – Refugee Council

Infoline 0808 196 7272 – Refugee Council

I will continue to update you and lobby the Government to take immediate action and to provide support for you, your family and friends.

Warm regards,

Dawn Butler MP

Summary of immigration routes 

Cohort

Description

Eligibility criteria

Immigration Status

Entitlements

1

Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy

 

 

Former Locally Employed Staff in Afghanistan who have been assessed to be at serious risk as a result of their work with HM Armed Forces or the UK Government. It is available to people regardless of rank or role, or length of time served.

Indefinite leave to enter or remain (those already granted five years’ temporary leave to remain can upgrade their leave at any time).

Full access to work, benefits and services

2

Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme

Referred vulnerable refugees from Afghanistan and those put at risk by recent events in Afghanistan. The scheme will prioritise:

– those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights and freedom of speech, rule of law (for examples, judges, women’s rights activists, journalists; and

– vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups at risk (including ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT).

Indefinite leave to enter or remain (anyone granted temporary leave to remain during the evacuation who is subsequently referred to the ACRS will be able to upgrade their leave).

Full access to work, benefits and services

3

Those who were evacuated or called forward to be evacuated as family members of British citizens or indefinite leave to remain

Called forward by HMG

Indefinite leave to remain

Full access to work, benefits and services

4

Afghan family members of British citizens or those with indefinite leave to remain, or post flight family members of those granted refugee status who were not called forward under Op PITTING

As set out in the family Immigration Rules

Temporary leave to enter or remain. Can apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 or 10 years on that route.

Access to work and healthcare (through payment of immigration health surcharge). Normally no recourse to public funds until settled, but can apply to have NRPF condition lifted in certain circumstances.

5

Pre-flight Afghan family members of those granted refugee status

As set out in the family reunion rules

Temporary leave to remain. Can apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 or 10 years on that route.

Access to work, benefits and services

6

Afghans in the UK as visitors or temporary migrants on economic or study routes

As set out in the Immigration Rules, but will be able to switch into another route for which they qualify and there will be flexibility on approach to documentary requirements.

Temporary leave to remain based on route, with ability to apply for settlement on some routes.

Access to study, work and healthcare (through payment of the immigration health surcharge) as provided for in each route.

7

Afghans claiming asylum in the UK

As set out in current protection rules.

If granted protection, temporary leave to remain for five years. Can apply for indefinite leave to remain after that

Access to work, benefits and services

8

Afghans in the UK without immigration status

N/A

N/A – encouraged to get in touch with the Home Office at the earliest opportunity to resolve their immigration status

No access to work, benefits or services

Most recent letters from the Government on the issue:

Lizz Truss letter page 1
Lizz Truss letter page 1
Lizz Truss letter page 2
Lizz Truss letter page 2
Dominic Raab Letter Page 1
Dominic Raab Letter Page 1
Dominic Raab Letter Page 1
Dominic Raab Letter Page 1
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