British soldiers in HelmandImage copyright PA
Image caption Afghan interpreters worked with the Army on the frontline in Helmand Province

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 have been waived.

He said the interpreters “had put their lives at risk” for the country.

The home secretary said about 400 former Afghan interpreters have 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.

‘Waiting for death’

“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.”

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson had earlier called for the interpreters to be allowed to stay for free.

He said he was “thrilled” at Mr Javid’s announcement and it was “important we deliver” for the interpreters.

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”.

Image copyright Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Image caption Sajid Javid said the interpreters had worked in dangerous conditions

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.

Mr Javid said the Home Office is also “looking again at what can be done” to make it easier for the interpreters to bring their families into the UK.

This follows complaints from a group of interpreters who said they had been told their wives and children in Afghanistan could not join them in the UK.

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

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