Afghan interpreters' UK immigration fee waived

image copyrightSulha Network (Ed Aitken)
image captionMohammed Hares is one of more than 150 Afghan interpreters who wrote to the home secretary asking for the fee to be waived

Afghan interpreters who served with British troops fighting against the Taliban will be able to stay in the UK for free, the home secretary has said.

More than 150 Afghans given five-year residency permits said they faced being sent back to Afghanistan when they expire, unless they paid £2,389 to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Sajid Javid said the fees had been waived.

A spokesman for the translators said they were "delighted" with the news.

But the group asked that their families be allowed to join them.

Currently, the interpreters' wives and children are not allowed to live in the UK unless they travelled at the same time as those given permits.

The group called this a "miserable injustice" because it was not possible for many families to gain the necessary documents to travel at the time.

image copyrightPA
image captionAfghan interpreters worked with the Army on the frontline in Helmand Province

The group also said they were having to pay more than £1,000 to get proper documentation for children born in the UK.

The home secretary said about 400 former Afghan interpreters had relocated to the UK as part of the government scheme.

Mr Javid said: "The local Afghan interpreters worked in dangerous and challenging situations, regularly putting their lives at risk.

"We have always been clear that they will be able to stay in the UK with their families and today I have announced that they will be able to do this for free."

He added that the Home Office was "looking again at what can be done" to make it easier for the interpreters to bring their wives and children into the country.

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson said he was "thrilled" at Mr Javid's announcement and it was "important we deliver" for the interpreters.

image copyrightStefan Rousseau/PA Wire
image captionSajid Javid said the interpreters had worked in dangerous conditions

Interpreter Mohammad Walizada, who worked for the British military between 2009 and 2015, and relocated to the UK in 2016, said the situation "should never have happened in the first place".

The 27-year-old, who now lives in Manchester, said being forced to return to Afghanistan would be like "waiting for your death to come".

It is the second time in as many months the government has waived the indefinite leave to remain fee for a specific group of people.

In April, the then-home secretary Amber Rudd said all such fees would be axed for the Windrush generation and their families.

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