UK immigration fee waived for Afghan interpreters
Government U-turn over plans to deport linguists who worked alongside British troops unless they each paid £2,389
Afghan interpreters who served alongside British troops fighting the Taliban will not have to pay the Home Office to stay in the UK, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced.
More than 150 translators given a five-year visa to seek sanctuary in Britain wrote to Javid and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson this week to complain about the “shameful” immigration rules, The Times reports. The letter said that they felt “let down” after being warned they faced deportation to Afghanistan unless they paid £2,389 to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
Javid confirmed this morning that the fees for the translators will be waived. He 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.”
Williamson said he was “thrilled” by the Home Office’s decision, and that it was “important we deliver” for the interpreters, the BBC reports.
Interpreter Mohammad Walizada, 27, who worked for the British military between 2009 and 2015, before relocating to the UK in 2016, told reporters that the situation “should never have happened in the first place”. The prospect of being sent back to Afghanistan was like “waiting for death to come”, he added.
The news comes on the heels of last month’s Windrush scandal, which culminated in Amber Rudd resigning as home secretary over allegations that she had misled Parliament by saying she did not know about Home Office removals targets for illegal immigrants.