‘It’s only right we honour their service’: SAJID JAVID says Afghan interpreters WILL be allowed to stay in the UK and promises to waive £2,000 fees
In his first newspaper article as Home Secretary, Sajid Javid (pictured) has announced he will guarantee Afghan interpreters who served in Helmand Province will be able to stay in the UK
The commitment and bravery shown by our local interpreters while our Armed Forces were in Afghanistan was extraordinary.
As the Mail has highlighted, they worked in dangerous and challenging situations, regularly putting their lives at risk.
Put simply, we would not have been able to carry out our work there without them.
It was in recognition of this unique and exceptional service to the UK that we made the offer of relocating these individuals and their families.
Around 400 people have already taken up the offer and have relocated with their families, meaning in total around 1,100 people are now living in the UK.
For almost five years they have been building their lives here, contributing to local communities, and we cannot allow those who have been through so much to have their lives disrupted again.
I know some have felt uncertainty about their future – an issue I’ve been following for some time.
As I said when I stood at the despatch box on my first day in this job, I want to ensure that we have an immigration system that is fair and humane.
That’s why today – as one of my first acts as Home Secretary – I am announcing that I will be bringing forward new immigration rules which will ensure that the Afghan interpreters who have been making this country their home will have a route to permanent settlement.
And I am also waiving the fees so they won’t have to pay a penny for it.
Many of the Afghan interpreters currently in the UK served alongside British troops fighting the Taliban in Helmand Province (pictured are members of 42 Royal Marines there in 2007)
They will not have to pay the usual £2,389 fee and nor will their family members.
Most of these individuals worked on the frontline alongside our Armed Forces, but there are others who carried out equally vital work with the Foreign Office and Department for International Development.
It is only right that we honour their service and ensure they are able to continue with the lives that they have built here. Everyone was given the opportunity to bring family members over with them when they came to the UK.
But I know that some people still have family members in Afghanistan. We said they could resettle here with their families – and I am determined that we respect the commitment we made.
So I will be looking again at whether we can make that process easier.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, pictured visiting a military exercise in Salisbury, has also been vocal in the row over Afghan interpreters’ right to remain in the UK
We will bring these changes forward to Parliament as soon as possible so that the fee waiver can take effect as quickly as possible.
This isn’t the only scheme that we have in place to support Afghan nationals who assisted the UK Armed Forces.
My colleagues at the Ministry of Defence continue to make sure that anyone whose safety is threatened in Afghanistan, due to their work with the UK, is offered help and protection.
This ranges from security advice, financial assistance or relocation to a safer part of the country.
These individuals served the UK in some of the hardest conditions. I am personally dedicated to ensuring that we repay that courageous service.
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