Ukrainian Nationals - How to come to or stay in the UK (March 2022)

The quickly evolving situation in Ukraine has meant that the UK Government has

needed to put in place immediate concessions whilst working to amend the

Immigration Rules and primary legislation. The legal position is therefore subject

to change quickly and without advance notice.


Coming to the UK


Ukrainian passport holders need a visa to travel to the UK and they are almost

certain to be refused entry without one. 


Ukraine Family Scheme (If they have family in the UK)


There are special visa arrangements in place allowing any British person or

immigrant who is settled in the UK (i.e. who hold Indefinite Leave to Remain or

Settled Status) to sponsor Ukrainian family members to come to the UK,

including parents, siblings, adult children, in-laws and cousins. This ‘Ukraine

Family Scheme’ opened for online applications on 4 March 2022.

Unfortunately, Ukrainian citizens with only temporary permission to live in the UK,

such as a Skilled Worker or Student visa, cannot sponsor relatives under the

Ukraine Family Scheme.


There is a special UK government immigration helpline for Ukrainians with family

in the UK who want to ask about visas: call +44 808 164 8810 and select option 1

(0808 164 8810 if you’re in the UK).


Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme - Homes for Ukraine (If they do not have family

in the UK)


This Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the

UK if they have a named sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. It is free

to apply.


This bespoke scheme will offer a route to those who want to come to the UK who

have someone here willing to provide them with a home. It will enable

individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to volunteer accommodation and provide a route to safety for those forced to escape their homeland.


Sponsors should provide accommodation for as long as they are able, but the UK

government has a minimum expectation of 6 months.


Someone is eligible for the scheme if they are a Ukrainian national (or an

immediate family member of one) and were resident in Ukraine prior to 1 January

2022.


People arriving under this scheme will be able to:

  • Live and work in the UK for up to three years

  • Access healthcare, benefits, employment support, education, and

  • English language tuition


If you want to offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine, you can become a sponsor

as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. People wanting to be sponsors who do

not know anyone personally fleeing Ukraine can also record their interest in being

a sponsor. 


You can use the service below to register your interest in becoming a sponsor.

You can register as an individual or as an organisation.


https://www.gov.uk/register-interest-homes-ukraine


Ukrainian nationals who need any assistance can call the UKVI’s 24/7 free helpline

+44 808 164 8810 (0808 164 8810 if they are in the UK). If you cannot contact UK

0808 numbers, please use +44 (0)175 390 7510.


Licensed Employers in the UK


If you are an employer and hold a valid UK Employer Sponsor Licence you should

be able to sponsor Ukrainian nationals as Skilled Workers or Intra-company

Transferees provided the usual requirements are met, for instance, offer of a

skilled role and salary threshold being met. For ICT applicants, the overseas entity

needs to be named as a linked entity on your Sponsor Licence to facilitate the

transfer.


Your GDB Legal Solutions consultant can undertake an urgent assessment of

your candidate’s eligibility


How to apply for a visa


As per the usual process, all UK visa applications must be submitted online,

however some applicants to the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine

schemes do not need to attend a visa appointment to give their fingerprints and

face scans (biometrics) at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) outside the UK***.


Biometrics were previously required for all applicants when the Ukraine Family

Scheme launched, however this aspect of the process was removed from 15

March 2022 for some (but not all) applicants***. All other visa applicants must

enrol biometrics at a VAC appointment. The VAC in Kyiv is closed, and although

there was a temporary pop-up VAC in Lviv, that is now suspended.


Applicants for Visitor visas or visas of any other type (such as Skilled Worker or

ICT) who can travel safely over the border can apply in a neighbouring country.

For example, applications can be submitted in France, Poland, Romania, Hungary

or Moldova, however, currently, all commercial flights from Ukraine have been

suspended so flights out of Ukraine are not available. Additionally, it appears that,

following the declaration of martial law by the Ukrainian government, all male

citizens between 18 and 60 have been banned from leaving Ukraine.


There are calls for the UKVI to allow all Ukrainian Visa applicants to only be

required to provide their biometrics once they are in the UK – provided they have

a valid biometrics passport – however, this is yet to be approved.


Already in the UK


Visa extensions


The UK government has made it easier for Ukrainian citizens already in the UK to

stay on within the mainstream immigration system, including by applying to

switch from a Visit visa to another type of immigration permission (such as a

Skilled Worker).


*** To be exempt from attending a VAC, only applicants to the Ukraine Family

Scheme who hold a valid Ukrainian international passport or an expired Ukrainian

international passport with a formal extension stamp issued by the Ukrainian

government can qualify. Those applicants will need to complete an application

online, but do not need to attend an appointment at a VAC.


If the application is approved, they will receive an official approval letter

confirming they can travel to the UK. That letter will allow them to board a plane

or other form of transport. On arrival in the UK, they can show the letter to a

Border Force official who will endorse their passport with a six-month stamp.

Each person will then need to submit biometrics (that may be possible through

an app, or alternatively by visiting an application centre in the UK) within that six-

month period to extend their stay by up to three years.

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