In response to the Russian invasion and ongoing crisis in the Ukraine, the Home Office of the United Kingdom (UK) formally incorporated three new visa routes for Ukrainians into the UK’s Immigration Rules. The new set of rules – ‘Appendix Ukraine Scheme’ – is comprised of the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, and the Ukraine Extension Scheme.
1. The Ukraine Family Scheme
With a view to assist the Ukrainian refugees, a visa-free scheme is established to allow British citizens or settled persons in the UK to sponsor immediate and extended family members to reside in the UK.
Eligible sponsors must possess:
- British citizenship;
- Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR);
- Refugee status;
- Humanitarian protection status;
- EU Settled status; or
- EU pre-settled status (as long as individual was living in the UK before 1 January 2021).
- Must be a Ukrainian national or a relevant family member of a Ukrainian national.
- Must have been residing in Ukraine immediately before January 1, 2022, as the law also accounts for people that may have left the country just before the crisis.
Applicants are classified as follows:
- Immediate family – this refers to married, civil or durable partners of the UK sponsor; child aged under 18; parent of a child aged under 18; or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of the sponsor.
- Extended family –this refers to a parent of the UK sponsor aged 18 or over or of their partner; grandparent of the sponsor or of their partner; grandchild of the sponsor or of their partner; sibling of the sponsor or of their partner; adult child (aged 18 or over) of the sponsor or of their partner; or aunt, uncle, cousin, niece or nephew of the sponsor.
- Immediate family of extended family –this is in reference to married, civil or durable partner, child aged under 18, parent of a child aged under 18 or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of an extended family member.
Those applying for entry clearance and in possession of a valid Ukrainian passport can initiate an application overseas, be allowed to enter the UK with a leave to enter of 6 months and complete the rest of the application in the UK, including the biometric appointment. Successful applicants can live, work and study in the UK and exercise the right to access public funds for up to three years.
2. The Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme
The Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme is a fee-exempt policy that allows Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family to move to the UK with the help of a UK sponsor. This scheme is also beneficial to those with no substantial ties to the UK.
- The sponsor must be a person or organisation based in the UK.
- Individual person sponsors must have at least 6 months of permission to live in the UK remaining on their stay.
- Sponsor is responsible for accommodation and must meet the stipulated requirements for approval as a sponsor set out in the guidance published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
- Granted a leave to remain for three years.
- Can bring dependents to the UK which include their married, civil or durable partner, child aged under 18, parent (if the Ukrainian national is a child aged under 18), or fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner.
Extended to people residing in Ukraine immediately before January 1, 2022 and left before the crisis struck. Applicant eligibility is similar to the Ukraine Family Scheme (resident in Ukraine immediately before January 1, 2022 and same entry clearance and biometrics rules applicable).
3. The Ukraine Extension Scheme
This no-fee route lets Ukrainians already living in the UK and in possession of a valid leave granted before March 18, 2022 (including those who have overstayed for a short period of time) extend their stay. This is inclusive of married, civil or durable partners and children.
Exceptions to the requirement for a prior grant of permission to enter or stay includes individuals who:
- Had a valid residency status in the UK immediately before 1 January, but that permission has since expired; or
- Are a child born in the UK after March 18, 2022.
Visas granted under this scheme are valid for a period of 36 months with access to public funds and permission to work and study in the UK. This will come into effect on May 3, 2022.