1 December 2021
Relocating Afghans

I understand your concern with this matter. Afghan civilians working with British forces, including as interpreters, played a vital role in supporting our military in challenging and often hostile situations, and I welcome the fact that the Defence Secretary has made clear that the safety of those who have worked alongside our Armed Forces over the past 20 years is of the utmost importance. 

Crucially, the Ministry of Defence put provisions in place to support the safe evacuation of Afghan locally employed staff (LES), alongside entitled personnel and British nationals. Under Operation Pitting, the now concluded military operation established to support the evacuation of these personnel, over 15,000 people were airlifted on over 165 flights. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these people, and I have been assured that the Government is doing everything it can to continue to support personnel eligible for relocation to the UK who are still in Afghanistan or who have left and are now in a third country. 

The relocation of LES to the UK is being carried out as part of the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which launched on 1 April 2021. The programme offers relocation to current and former employees such as embassy support staff, those in political and counter-terrorism roles, or cultural advisors who could face threats related to their occupation. Under the scheme, which is not time limited, anyone facing imminent risk such as intimidation or threat to life is offered priority relocation regardless of their employment status, rank or role, or length of time served. 

I welcome that the Government has made several important changes and enhancements to the eligibility criteria for ARAP to address particular concerns. For example, interpreters who supported military operations as contractors are now eligible for relocation and the Government will continue to conduct risk assessments of all former employees who claim to be at risk. 

Afghan LES who have qualified under ARAP have been relocated with their immediate family members, with over 2,000 children being evacuated by the UK as part of Operation Pitting. Furthermore, where people choose to marry or start a relationship after relocating to the UK, their partner can apply for a visa to come to the UK under the usual family immigration rules. 

If you have friends or family still in Afghanistan who you believe are eligible for relocation under ARAP, I would like to reassure you that the scheme remains open and I would advise you consult this page for further information on how to begin processing their relocation: