The UK Government has launched a number of visa schemes in response to the humanitarian crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

‘Homes for Ukraine’ local sponsorship scheme

A new local sponsorship scheme has been launched for Ukrainians without any family ties to the UK.

Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, sponsors such as communities, private sponsors or local authorities, can bring those forced to flee Ukraine to the UK.

Hosts offering accommodation to Ukrainian refugees will receive a fixed payment of £350 a month, which does not increase for additional people. 

The Home Office guidance states there is no limit on the number of Ukrainians with sponsors that will be welcomed under the scheme.

Those that are sponsored to come to the UK will be granted leave to remain for 3 years and will have permission to work and claim benefits where eligible while in Britain.

Potential hosts can now register their interests in sponsoring a Ukrainian refugee on the UK Government’s new Homes for Ukraine website. Applications for the scheme are set to open this Friday, 18 March.

Ukraine family visa scheme

The Ukraine family scheme visa was launched on 4 March 2022 and is open to Ukrainian family members of British nationals, UK settled persons and certain others to come to the UK or to extend their stay.

Under the visa, applicants will be allowed to live, work and study in the UK for up to three years. They can also access benefits (public funds) if they qualify.

To be eligible for the visa, applicants have to meet three criteria:

  • They are applying to join a family member in the UK.
  • They have to be Ukrainian or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national who is applying to the scheme.
  • They also have to have been residing in Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022 (including those who have now left Ukraine).

Applicants must also pass Home Office background security checks.

Guidance on how to apply for the scheme from within the UK is not yet available.

For applications from overseas, individuals have to apply online on the UK government website and then book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) outside the UK.

The VAC Kyiv is closed and all UK visa services in Kyiv have been suspended. Temporary VACs for people applying for the Ukraine Family Scheme have opened in the Lemberg Business Centre in Lviv, Ukraine, and in Rzeszow, Poland. Applications for the scheme can also be made from a VAC in any country overseas. There are VACs across Europe, including Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and France.

Ukrainian visa holders already in the UK

New temporary guidance has also been published for Ukrainian nationals currently present in the UK who need to need to extend their visa but cannot return to Ukraine.

Under the UK Immigration Rules, for most visa categories, visa holders would ordinarily be required to travel overseas to extend or switch their UK visa.

The new temporary concessions allow Ukrainian nationals who are already in the UK to extend their permission and retain lawful status without having to leave the UK. This includes visitor visa holders, skilled worker visa holders, seasonal workers, HGV drivers and pork butchers.

As Editor of Lawble, Gill helps business and individuals become better informed about their legal rights. Gill is a content specialist in the fields of law, tax and human resources.