Below we have collated the information currently available about routes to safety in the UK for people fleeing Ukraine. The UK government response has been inadequate and unclear. We will update this page with new information when it is published. Last updated 30.03.22
Ukrainians need a visa to enter the UK. The Home Office position is that people must get a visa before travel.
There are no updates on ways to claim asylum in the UK from Ukraine. It seems that the government are reviewing their policy on Ukraine.
Ukranian Family Scheme
The government has announced a Ukrainian Family Scheme to include extended family members of British nationals and people settled in the UK. The details were announced on 4 March 2022. If you applied under the family concessions before the scheme was opened your claim will now be considered under the scheme.
This widens the categories of people who are able to apply. The application must be made online. There is no application fee and no need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.
From Tuesday 15 March, if you are outside the UK and hold a valid Ukrainian international passport or an expired Ukrainian international passport with a formal extension stamp issued by the Ukrainian government, you no longer need to provide your biometric information from overseas to apply to the Ukraine Family Scheme. You still need to complete an application online, but you will not need to attend an in-person appointment at a visa application centre.
You must upload a copy of the photograph page of your valid or expired Ukrainian international passport. If you are applying with an expired Ukrainian international passport you must upload a copy of the page where the formal extension stamp issued by the Ukrainian government is shown. You can upload documents using the relevant document upload app. This will be either TLS or VFS depending on which country you are applying in. You can download the app from the TLS or VFS website when you make your application. If you need support to upload images of your documents, you can still book an appointment at a VAC.
Once your application has been processed you will receive an official permission letter from UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) confirming that you can travel to the UK. The permission letter will allow you to board a plane or other form of transport to the UK.
You must provide a valid email address when you submit your application as they will need to contact you with more guidance on the travel process.
To apply to the Ukraine Family Scheme you must:
- be applying to join or accompany your UK-based family member; and
- be Ukrainian or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national who is applying to the scheme; and
- have been residing in Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022 (including those who have now left Ukraine)
Your family member must be one of the following:
- a British national
- someone settled in the UK – for example, they have indefinite leave to remain, settled status or proof of permanent residence
- someone who has pre-settled status and started living in the UK before 1 January 2021
- someone with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
You must provide evidence that your UK-based family member is one of the following:
- an immediate family member
- an extended family member
- an immediate family member of an extended family member
An immediate family member is your:
- spouse or civil partner
- unmarried partner (you must have been living together in a relationship for at least two years)
- child who is under 18
- parent (if you are under 18)
- fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner
An extended family member is your:
- parent (if you are over 18)
- child who is over 18
- grandchild or your partner’s grandchild
- brother or sister
- aunt or uncle
- niece or nephew
- mother-in-law or father-in-law
- brother or sister-in-law
An immediate family member of an extended family member is the:
- spouse or civil partner of an extended family member
- child under 18 of an extended family member
- parent of a child under 18 who is an extended family member
- fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of an extended family member
If your UK-based family member is your (or an extended family member’s) spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner the relationship must have started before 1 January 2022.
Other family members will be considered where there are exceptional circumstances. The government has said that they aim to make a decision on these applications as soon as possible. If successful you will be granted the right to stay in the UK for 3 years.
The Ukraine Family Scheme is now open for applicants already in the UK. This is the link for the form to apply.
You will then need to book and attend an appointment at a UKCAS office to have your fingerprints and photograph taken. This is the link to book. Some free appointments are available but most of them currently require payment.
The government has said that it will prioritise Ukrainian Family Scheme applications, both in and out of country, but no timescales have been given.
At the UK border
Border Force, airlines and carriers will be informed that customers with valid Ukrainian passports who have been accepted under the Ukraine Family Scheme will be issued with a letter confirming they have permission to travel to the UK without a UK visa in their passport. When you arrive in the UK, you will need to show your permission letter to Border Force officers who will endorse your passport with a 6-month entry stamp. The 6-month entry stamp is evidence of your right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK.
Extending your stay in the UK
You will need to submit your biometrics within 6 months of arriving in the UK to extend your stay for up to 3 years and be issued with a biometric residence permit (BRP) as evidence of your immigration status. You can start the process to provide your biometric information by completing the online form. You will then be told how to provide your biometrics.
This might be by using the UK Immigration: ID Check app or by visiting an application centre in the UK to provide a facial photograph and your fingerprints. You do not need to do this as soon as you reach the UK, but you do need to make sure that you have provided your biometrics before the 6 months ends.
Homes for Ukraine Scheme
The government has announced a new scheme for people and organisations in the UK to provide accommodation to Ukrainians and their family. Information can be found here. The government has answered frequently asked questions about the scheme here. It is free to apply to this scheme and the Immigration Health Surcharge does not need to be paid.
Someone is eligible for the scheme if they are a Ukrainian national or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national, 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, and access healthcare, benefits, employment support, education, and English language tuition.
Sponsors in the UK can be of any nationality, with any immigration status, provided they have at least six months’ leave to remain within the UK and pass the background checks. They can live in any part of the UK. Sponsors must provide accommodation for a minimum of six months. Sponsors can also receive an optional ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month for up to the first 12 months of sponsorship. This payment is limited to one monthly payment per residential address, regardless of the number of individuals sponsored. Payments will stop when the sponsorship ends.
Sponsors and all adults in sponsors’ households will also be subject to initial Police National Computer (PNC), criminal records and Warnings Index checks by the Home Office. Councils will be required to undertake basic DBS checks for all adults in the sponsor household; and in cases where the incoming arrivals include children and/or vulnerable adults, an enhanced DBS with barred lists check will be required promptly on all adults in the sponsor household.
The scheme is live for those with named Ukrainians that they wish to support in the UK. For those who want to help but do not know any Ukrainians they are encouraged to register their interest now through the links on this website.
Ukraine Extension Scheme
A Ukrainian national can qualify under the Ukraine Extension Scheme if they are in the UK with immigration permission on 18 March 2022 or if their last permission ended after 1 January 2022. This scheme will open on 3 May 2022.
A person who has immigration permission as a partner or child of a Ukrainian national who qualifies under the Ukraine Extension Scheme, who is not themselves a Ukrainian national, can also qualify under the Ukraine Extension Scheme. The application must be made online. It is open to Ukrainian nationals, their partners and children who had permission to be in the UK on the basis of that relationship, or their children born in the UK after 18 March 2022. Leave under this scheme can be granted for up to a maximum of 36 months.
Applying for visas
To apply for these visas people outside the UK will need to go to a Visa Application Centre. According to the government, “The UK Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Kyiv is now closed and all UK visa services in Kyiv are suspended in order to keep people safe. Family members of British nationals who usually live in Ukraine and need a UK visa can apply through a VAC in a nearby country if you are able to safely travel. VACs are currently operating in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova.”
Ukrainians who are already in the UK can apply for permission to stay, including where they would normally be unable to. The government has introduced a concession to allow Ukrainian nationals in the UK with a visitor visa to switch into a points-based route or a family route. The UK government also recognises that you may be unable to provide documents normally needed and if you explain why not they can grant the visa without these. Details are set out in two Home Office guidance documents, one for people on family visas and another for people on work or study visas.
Ukraine Advice Project – voluntary advice from legal professionals
Refugee Action guidance on how to help from the UK
Free Movement guide on concessions and policy
Europia have set up an email hotline which individuals can contact for support and advice relating to the war – email@example.com
We will update this page with new information as we get it. Please follow us on Twitter for more updates on our work.