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Information to help people arriving from Afghanistan to settle, live, work and find local services in Solihull.
The UK formally opened the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) on 6 January 2022.
The scheme prioritises:
- those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech, and rule of law
- vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups at risk (including ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT+)
The government will resettle up to 20,000 people over the coming years.
This is in addition to the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme, which has already settled thousands of Afghans who have worked with the UK government, and their families. The ARAP scheme is a separate scheme to the ACRS and offers Afghan nationals who have worked for or alongside the UK government, and meet the ARAP criteria, relocation to the UK.
Anyone who is resettled through the ACRS will receive indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK, and will be able to apply for British citizenship after five years in the UK under existing rules.
The scheme is not application-based. Instead, eligible people will be prioritised and referred for resettlement to the UK through one of three referral pathways:
- 1. Under Pathway 1, vulnerable and at-risk individuals who arrived in the UK under the evacuation programme have been the first to be settled under the ACRS. Eligible people who were notified by the UK government that they had been called forward or specifically authorised for evacuation, but were not able to board flights, will also be offered a place under the scheme if they subsequently come to the UK
- 2. Under Pathway 2, we are now able to begin receiving referrals from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of vulnerable refugees who have fled Afghanistan for resettlement to the UK. UNHCR has the global mandate to provide international protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees. UNHCR will refer individuals in accordance with their standard resettlement submission criteria, which are based on an assessment of protection needs and vulnerabilities
- 3. Pathway 3 was designed to offer a route to resettlement for those at risk who supported the UK and international community effort in Afghanistan, as well as those who are particularly vulnerable, such as women and girls at risk and members of minority groups. In the first year of this pathway, the government is considering eligible, at-risk people for resettlement from 3 groups: British Council contractors, GardaWorld contractors and Chevening alumni. There are 1,500 places available in the first year under Pathway 3. This number includes the principal applicants and their eligible family members
Expressions of interest for these 3 groups under Pathway 3 have closed. If you have already submitted an expression of interest, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will contact you to confirm whether you are being referred for resettlement.
After the first year of Pathway 3, the government will work with international partners and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to welcome wider groups of Afghans at risk.
The focus of the ACRS will be on those people who remain in Afghanistan or the region. While the majority of people resettled will be Afghan nationals of other countries (for example, in mixed nationality families) will be eligible to be resettled through the scheme. A spouse or partner and dependent children under the age of 18 of eligible individuals will be resettled under the scheme. Some additional family members may be resettled in exceptional circumstances.
Any offer of resettlement under the ACRS will be contingent on security screening, including checks against security and other databases, and provision of biometric information. Individuals who have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorism or other serious crimes will not be eligible.
The ACRS demonstrates the government’s New Plan for Immigration in action, to expand and strengthen the safe and legal routes to the UK for those in need of protection.
If you are a British or non-British national in Afghanistan and in need of assistance, you can find support at GOV.UK.
For more information on the scheme visit Afghan citizens resettlement scheme at GOV.UK.
A range of support to rebuild their lives will be offered.
This support will include:
- school places
- access to healthcare
- learning English language
- employment support
Both ARAP and ACRS programmes are funded by the Home Office.
People arriving via these schemes will have immediate Indefinite Leave to Remain and full access to public funds.
A General Practitioner (GP) is the first doctor you will usually visit when accessing healthcare in the UK. GPs are highly skilled doctors who are trained in all aspects of general medicine e.g. child health, adult medicine and mental health. Practice nurses are qualified and registered nurses who usually run clinics for long-term conditions e.g. diabetes. Other healthcare professionals also work in a GP practice, for example pharmacists and physiotherapists.
The Local Authority will help you register with a GP surgery, also called a practice, near where you are living as soon as possible, even if you are not currently ill. The NHS website tells you how to register with a GP surgery in the UK.
To register with a GP, you will need to give your name, date of birth, address and telephone number if you have one. GP surgeries may ask to see proof of identity with your name and date of birth (such as your passport or recognised identity card) and proof of address. However, they cannot refuse to register you if these are not available. After you have registered with your new GP you might be asked to have a health check. This will usually be carried out by a nurse. It is important that you go to this appointment even if you are well. If you move to a different part of the UK, you will need to register with a new GP. You can only be registered with one GP practice.
Your GP may want you to take medicines and will write you a prescription. Take your prescription to the pharmacy or chemist. You can visit find your local pharmacy with the NHS or ask for advice at your GP surgery.
The pharmacist can also give free advice on treating minor health problems, such as colds and coughs. You can buy some medicines from the pharmacy without a prescription, including some painkillers and cough medicines however you will have to pay for these medicines. You may be charged for prescription medicines.
If you or a family member has an accident or a sudden serious illness you should go to your nearest hospital with an Accident and Emergency (A&E) department which is free for everyone.
If it is an extreme emergency call 999 and ask for an ambulance to transport you to a hospital. This service is free of charge and should only be used in an emergency. If you are able to, you may also make your own way to the A&E department. Do not use A&E for minor medical problems.
Once your medical situation has been stabilised in the A&E department you may need to stay in a specialist department of the hospital until you have fully recovered and can return home.
If you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation, call NHS 111.
Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life to serious long-term conditions. Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression are the most common problems. If you have been feeling depressed for more than a few weeks or your anxiety is affecting your daily life, make an appointment to speak to your doctor.
Advice is also available on the NHS website to support you on your way to feeling better. The NHS website also gives details of support organisations and their helplines that you can contact for help and advice.
All maternity care, including all antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal services provided to a pregnant person, a person who has recently given birth, or a baby, is covered by the NHS for an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) payer.
Due to the severe health risks associated with conditions such as eclampsia and pre-eclampsia, and in order to protect the lives of both mother and unborn baby, all maternity services will be treated as being immediately necessary. No one must ever be denied, or have delayed, maternity services due to charging issues.
Maternity services cover care from the beginning of pregnancy through to sign off by a midwife: this is usually around 10 days after the birth but can be up to 6 weeks postnatally. Midwives ensure that personalised care is provided throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Much of this care will be provided directly by midwives, who will also coordinate the provision of obstetric or other medical involvement if necessary.
Anyone settling in the UK should contact a GP or midwife as soon as you find out you're pregnant. It's important to see a midwife or GP as early as possible to get the pregnancy (antenatal) care and information you need to have a healthy pregnancy. The NHS provide information on all you need to know about pregnancy, labour, birth and NHS maternity services.
If you are settling in the UK you will be entitled to NHS dentistry, which is a universal service and does not require residency. NHS dentistry is not free except for patients in an exempt category, so anyone settling in the UK will have to pay just as a UK resident would.
Free exemptions apply in the following cases:
- the treatment is free (for example to remove stitches, stop bleeding in the mouth, repair dentures)
- the person is under the age of 18, or under 19 in full-time education
- the person is pregnant or has had a baby in the last 12 months - a MAT B1 certificate or maternity exemption certificate (MatEx) must be shown to the dental practice.
Property owners, organisations or companies can pledge offers of entire homes to help permanently resettle Afghan nationals and families.
The following How to rent guide is for people who are renting a home privately under an assured shorthold tenancy, either direct from a landlord or through a letting agency. Most of it will also apply if you are in a shared property but in certain cases, your rights and responsibilities will vary.
The guide does not cover lodgers (people who live with their landlord) or people with licences (such as many property guardians), nor tenants where the property is not their main or only home.
Council tax is a tax on your home, collected by your local authority. The amount you pay will depend on where you live, as different local authorities charge different amounts of council tax.
All houses are divided up into council tax ‘bands’, but the amount you’ll pay in each band differs between local authorities. Confusing, we know. Generally, the bigger the property, the more council tax you pay.
It doesn’t matter if you rent or own the property, you still have to pay council tax - though some people, including full-time students, are exempt.
If you're homeless or at risk of homelessness we can help.
Are you aged 25 or over or 16 to 24 with dependent children?
If you’re homeless or at risk of homelessness contact Solihull Community Housing as soon as possible:
- Telephone: 0121 717 1515
Once you’ve got in touch, we’ll arrange for you to see a housing advisor, who will try to prevent your homelessness by providing housing advice and explaining your options. If you’re already homeless, we’ll see you the same day.
We’ll also help you join the housing register if you are eligible and give you advice on your housing options.
Are you on your own or a couple aged 16 to 24 with no children?
If you're homeless, at risk of homelessness or in housing need contact St. Basil’s as soon as possible:
St. Basil’s workers will help you find the best solution to your housing needs. They offer a multi-agency service to young people in Solihull which includes:
- access to safe and confidential housing options advice and support
- help to find the right solution to housing issues
- offer of mediation and advocacy
- support to access statutory services
Across the UK there are five stages of education:
- early years
- Further Education (FE)
- Higher Education (HE)
Education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 (4 in Northern Ireland) and 16. All children in England between the ages of 5 and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state school.
Primary and secondary age children
If your children are between the ages of 5 and 15, you use our school admissions pages to apply for a school place.
Children and young people must stay in full-time education until they reach school leaving age.
EMTAS (Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service) offers support to children and parents of children on the Afghan and UKRS schemes.
If you are an adult who wants to make a fresh start with learning, to return to learning, or to continue learning visit our adult and community education page.
The British Council LearnEnglish website provides many applications, each focusing on a different area such as grammar, videos, podcasts and pronunciation.
Work, benefits and financial support
To open a bank account in the UK, guests will usually need to show proof of identity such as passport, biometric residency permit, driver’s licence, or recognised identity card. A number of UK Banks have a system for opening accounts where you do not have a permanent UK address, including digital banks Starling and Monzo.
The Refugee Council has created a banking guide to help make this process easier for refugees.
In order to work in the UK, you will need your National Insurance Number (NINO or NI number). This is a unique number for each person. It records the tax and National Insurance contributions that you make. You cannot work or receive benefits without your NINO.
If you are on a low income and need help from an immigration solicitor, you can search the list of legal aid providers.
Legal aid is not "public funds" for the purpose of immigration rules, so you can apply even if you are on a visa that doesn't normally give you access to public funds (such as benefits).
You can also find an immigration adviser on the Home Office adviser finder tool. Select the level of advice required and the location. You can filter the search to view Not Fee Charging (free) advisers only.
Citizens Advice provide free advice to all members of the public on matters including benefits, housing, family law and immigration.
Praxis provides expert support to migrants and refugees in the UK on both immigration and housing matters.
ATLEU provides direct legal support to survivors of trafficking and slavery.
Living in the UK
Living in the UK may be very different to life in your home country. There may new rules, laws, support and expectations to become familiar with.
It will take some time to adjust to a new way of life and to understand your rights and responsibilities during your time seeking asylum.
In the UK, the law protects everyone against prejudice or hostility that is directed towards them based on their:
- gender identity
- sexual orientation.
A hate crime can include:
- verbal abuse
- damage to property.
Call 999 if you’re reporting a crime that’s in progress or if someone is in immediate danger.
Solihull Council is working with organisations across the borough to help provide immediate support to those who are being repatriated from Afghanistan before they move to other parts of the UK.
We know that local people are keen to provide support, and many have already come forward with generous offers of help. Working with our local voluntary sector, we have already secured many key essentials which have already been distributed.
No further items are needed in Solihull, but if you would like to donate items to refugees there are more opportunities in the West Midlands and nationally that you can find out about at the How you can help refugees coming to the UK campaign at GOV.UK.