If you know of anyone who has leave on the basis of either the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (‘ACRS’) or the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy Scheme (‘ARAP’), or who is the family member of such a person, please read this story.
For courses starting on or after 1 August 2022, they have potential to pay fees at the ‘home’ rate and receive student finance for higher education, if they meet all the requirements of the category for ‘Persons granted leave under the Afghan Schemes’. That category does not include a requirement for students to have a period of three years’ ordinary residence in the UK and Islands before they start their course.
However, UKCISA has heard of students being wrongly refused student finance, when Student Finance England assessors mistakenly think they are required to have a period of three years’ ordinary residence in the UK and Islands before they qualify for student finance. There is in fact no such requirement, if students fit the ‘Persons granted leave under the Afghan Schemes’ category.
How to challenge this mistake if it happens
Go to the UKCISA information for Persons with leave granted under the Afghan Schemes (this information is about fees, but it includes a list of different types of leave - this list is equally relevant to applications for student finance). Check whether the student has any one of the six types of leave described in points 1,2,3,4,5 or 6.
They should have been assessed as entitled to student finance if:
- the type of leave they have is any one of the six types labelled 1,2,3,4,5 or 6 in Persons with leave granted under the Afghan Schemes; and
- they have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands since they were granted that leave; and
- they are ordinarily resident in England on the ‘first day of the first academic year of the course’ (note that for a course beginning at any point in the period August to December, this date is always standardised to 1st September); and
- the course starts on or after 1 August 2022.
If they meet all those requirements but they have been refused student finance then they will need to submit an appeal, and if that is refused then submit a formal complaint to Student Finance England about that. Make sure they include the following four points in their representations:
- They believe they are eligible because they meet the ‘Persons granted leave under the Afghan Schemes’ category.
- There is no 3 year residence test for that category.
- Ask the assessor to look at paragraph 3.34 of the Student Finance England Assessing Eligibility Guidance for information about the category.
- Provide the assessor with evidence that their immigration permission (their ‘leave’) is connected to the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme or the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy Scheme.
It is possible that assessors are not aware of the category, which is why it is important to spell all those things out.
If you have checked that a student should have been assessed as entitled to student finance, and they go through the appeal process and the formal complaint process and the error remains uncorrected, you can telephone the UKCISA Student Advice Line (if you are a student), or the UKCISA Members' Advice Line (if you are a UKCISA member). However, please don’t telephone until you have reached the end of both those processes, and make sure you have all the refusal notices in front of you when you telephone.