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A Guide to UK Home Office Schemes for Ukrainians

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Since then, what has the Home Office done to protect Ukrainian nationals?

This article provides an overview of the policies currently in place to support Ukrainians and their family members, especially in light of the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules brought into effect on 30 March 2022. It will address four schemes for Ukrainian nationals and their family members introduced by the Home Office since the commencement of the war in Ukraine:

  • Temporary Visa Concessions
  • Appendix Ukraine Scheme, which comprises:
    • Ukraine Family Scheme
    • Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme
    • Ukraine Extension Scheme

Temporary Visa Concessions for Ukrainians

The Home Office’s first response to the War in Ukraine was to issue temporary visa concessions to Ukrainians on 24 February 2022. These were addressed in our previous blog post.

The concessions waived the application fee for family members of British nationals who usually lived in Ukraine. Applicants could apply for family settlement visas for free.

The concessions also allowed Ukrainian citizens who were already in the UK to switch onto certain types of visas without leaving the country. For example, if a Ukrainian national was in the UK on a visitor visa, they could switch into a points-based route or family visa route if they met the requirements of that route.

The fee waiver concession scheme has now been overtaken by the Appendix Ukraine Scheme. The Home Office guidance on the Ukraine Scheme states as follows:

“Applications that have already been made under the Ukraine fee waiver concession from 14 February 2022 but have not yet been decided must now be considered under the new Ukraine Scheme.”

Appendix Ukraine Scheme

The Appendix Ukraine Scheme was formally introduced by the Statement of Changes issued on 29 March 2022. The Statement of Changes formalised three separate schemes: the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, and the Ukraine Extension Scheme. 

The Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Schemes took effect on 30 March 2022. The Ukraine Extension Scheme took effect on 03 May 2022. Prior to the Statement of Changes, these schemes operated outside the Immigration Rules.

In all cases where they are applying from outside the UK, applicants to the Ukraine Scheme must have been living in Ukraine immediately before 01 January 2022. The exception is children born on or after that date. The Home Office guidance on the Ukraine Scheme states as follows:

“The starting point for decision makers is to believe the applicant if they confirm they were resident in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022. The conflict may have significantly reduced an applicant’s ability to obtain their documents and decision makers can grant an application without the usual documentary evidence. 

If a decision maker believes an applicant was not resident in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022, they should contact the applicant for further evidence. 

The bullet points below are a non-exhaustive list of evidence an applicant can submit if available, to confirm they were ordinarily resident in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022:

  • passport 
  • official documents issued by the Ukrainian authorities
  • utility bills
  • bank statements
  • medical letters
  • mortgage or tenancy agreements
  • employment letters
  • education letters”

Ukraine Family Scheme

The Ukraine Family Scheme (see our previous blog post) is open to Ukrainians (and non-Ukrainians with close Ukrainian relatives) living inside or outside the UK. Those applying from inside the UK can apply for leave to stay. Those applying from outside the UK can apply for leave to enter.

If granted, the applicant will be given leave for 36 months including access to public funds, work and study.

If applicants are applying for permission to stay in the UK, at the date of application they must be in the UK either with permission or with permission that expired on or after 01 January 2022. Permission granted as a visitor after 18 March 2022 does not count.

The Ukraine Family Scheme route requires a UK-based sponsor. The UK-based sponsor must meet two requirements: an immigration status requirement and a qualifying family relationship requirement.

Immigration Status Requirement

The immigration status requirement is that the sponsor is a British citizen, settled person, person with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK, or person with pre-settled status.

Qualifying Family Relationship Requirement

The qualifying family relationship requirement depends on whether the applicant is a Ukrainian or non-Ukrainian national: 

  • If the applicant is a Ukrainian national, the sponsor must be (i) an “immediate family member” (partner, child under 18, parent of child under 18, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner), (ii) an “extended family member” (parent of child over 18, grandparent, grandchild, adult child, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or cousin) or (iii) an “immediate family member of an extended family member”.
  • Non-Ukrainian nationals can only apply if they are the immediate family member (partner, child under 18, parent of child under 18, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner) of a Ukrainian national that meets the criteria in the bullet point above (i.e., a Ukrainian national who has (or would have) a UK-based sponsor).

CASE STUDY

If A was a Ukrainian national, she may be sponsored by any of the following people assuming that sponsor also met the immigration status requirement (e.g., they were British citizens):

  • Her husband, her 16 year old child, or her mother (immediate family members)
  • Her adult child, her sister, her uncle, or her cousin (extended family members)
  • Her adult child’s wife, her grandmother’s fiancée or cousin’s child under 18 (immediate family members of extended family members).

If B was a non-Ukrainian national, he could be sponsored if he was A’s parent (and A was under 18), A’s husband, or A’s fiancé. 

Appendix Relationship with Partner

If applying as a partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, the applicant must demonstrate that they have been in a genuine and subsisting relationship which commenced before 01 January 2022. 

Those applying as partners must satisfy the requirements of Appendix Relationship with Partner. These, in short, are as follows: 

  • the couple are over 18; 
  • the couple are not closely related; 
  • previous marriages/civil partnerships/durable relationships have broken down; 
  • if married or civil partners, their marriage/civil partnership is valid; 
  • if unmarried, the couple have been in a relationship similar to marriage/civil partnership for at least 2 years; 
  • the couple have met in person; 
  • the relationship is genuine and subsisting; 
  • if in a polygamous marriage/civil partnership, no other partner to the marriage/civil partnership seeks or has been granted permission to enter/stay, settlement or a certificate of entitlement to Right of Abode in the UK.

Under 18s

If the applicant is under 18 and not accompanying a parent or joining a parent in the UK, they must have the written consent (for the application, living/care arrangements and travel/reception arrangements) of both parents, the legal guardian or one parent if they have sole legal responsibility for the child. Alternatively, the decision-maker may be satisfied that it is reasonable in the circumstances to grant entry clearance or permission without such consent.

Suitability Requirements

The suitability requirements in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules also apply, so applicants may be refused, for example, on the basis of criminality, being non-conducive to the public good, or deception.

How to apply 

The applications are free and you do not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

You can apply from inside the UK using this online form

You can apply from outside the UK using this online form.

Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme

This is another route that has been formally introduced by the Statement of Changes. We addressed this scheme in a previous blog post. The scheme is a route to entry clearance for Ukrainians (and their immediate family members) living outside the UK only.

Applicants must have an approved sponsor. If a family group is applying, the Ukrainian national and their immediate family members must have the same approved sponsor.

Applicants must have been ordinarily resident in Ukraine immediately before 01 January 2022, unless they are a child born on or after that date.

The applicant must be a Ukrainian national or part of an immediate family group that includes an immediate family member (partner, child under 18, parent of child under 18, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner) who is a Ukrainian national who qualifies under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.

Applicants applying as partners, fiancé(e)s or proposed civil partners must be in a genuine and subsisting relationship with the Ukrainian national, which commenced before 01 January 2022. They also must meet the requirements in Appendix Relationship with Partner (see above).

The suitability requirements in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules apply, so applicants may be refused, for example, on the basis of criminality, being non-conducive to the public good, or deception.

If granted, the applicant will be given leave for 36 months including access to public funds, work and study.

The applications are free and you do not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

You can apply using this online form.

Ukraine Extension Scheme

Appendix Ukraine Scheme also introduces the Ukraine Extension Scheme. The headnote for the Appendix indicates that Ukrainian nationals and their partners/children can apply for this scheme if they were in the UK with immigration permission on 18 March 2022 or if their last permission ended after 01 January 2022. The scheme opened on 03 May 2022. 

The rules require applicants to provide biometrics and a passport or other document to satisfactorily establish their identity and nationality (see list of alternative documents to establish identity above).

Applicants also must have been in the UK with permission to enter (or stay) in the UK on 18 March 2022. The exceptions are if they were in the UK with permission immediately before 01 January 2022 and that permission has since expired, or if they are a child born in the UK after 18 March 2022.

The suitability requirements (criminality, false representations, exclusion orders, etc.) also apply.

Applicants must meet the nationality requirement. They must be:

  • A Ukrainian national; or 
  • A person who has or last had permission as a partner of a Ukrainian national; or
  • A person who has or last had permission as a child of a Ukrainian national; or 
  • A child of a Ukrainian national born in the UK after 18 March 2022

If the applicant is applying as a partner, they must meet the requirements in Appendix Relationship with Partner (see above).

If the applicant is a child born in the UK, a full UK birth certificate must be provided. 

If the applicant is under 18 on the date of application and not applying with their parents, they must have permission from both parents, the legal guardian or a parent with sole legal responsibility unless it is reasonable in the circumstances to grant the child permission without such consent. The consent must confirm support for the application and the applicant’s living and care arrangements in the UK. It may be provided in a letter of support. If the applicant is under 18 on the date of application, there must be suitable arrangements for the child’s care and accommodation in the UK, complying with relevant UK legislation and regulations.

If granted, applicants will be granted permission to stay for 36 months.

The grant of leave permits access to public funds, work and study.

The application is free and you do not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

You can apply using this online form.

Who Do the Different Routes Help?

Ukrainians (and their immediate family members) who are already in the UK may rely on the Ukraine Family Scheme if they have a family member in the UK, or else the Ukraine Extension Scheme to extend their stay in the UK for up to 36 months provided the conditions of this route are met.

Ukrainians (and their immediate family members) who are outside the UK have two options. The Ukraine Family Scheme enables Ukrainians with UK-based family members to enter the UK. The Home for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme enables Ukrainians without family ties to the UK to enter for up to 36 months provided the route’s conditions are met.

What if There Is a Delay in Processing My Ukraine Application?

The Home Office have stated that they are prioritising Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme applications and aim to make decisions as quickly as possible. However, they have not given a specific time frame.

If you are experiencing delays with your application, you should double-check that all the relevant requirements of the application have been met. If they have, you could try calling the 24/7 free government helplines for Ukrainians. This is 0808 164 8810 if you’re in the UK and +44 (0)175 390 7510 if you cannot contact UK 0808 numbers.

You may also consider submitting an online complaint to UKVI, which can be effective for getting a response.

Your local MP may also be able to chase the Home Office for a decision.

If all of these routes are exhausted, it may be possible to challenge the delay through the judicial review process, beginning with a pre-action protocol letter. This would involve showing there was an unreasonable delay resulting in disadvantage. Given that the Home Office has not published a specific timeframe and the applications were made quite recently, this would be a difficult argument to make.

Contact our Immigration Lawyers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme or any immigration matter, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete the enquiry form below.

SEE HOW OUR IMMIGRATION BARRISTERS CAN HELP YOU

To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.




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