UK visa options for Ukrainians fleeing the conflict

We take a look at the options open for Ukrainian nationals fleeing to come to the UK and what you can do to help.

The requirements for each are summarised below:

1. Ukraine Family Scheme

  • This allows the family members of British citizens, people who are settled in the UK, people who hold pre-settled status in the UK under Appendix EU or people with refugee status or humanitarian protection to join their family members in the UK.
  • The UK based family member must be an immediate family member (for example spouse, child under 18), extended family member (for example grandparent, siblings, aunt or uncle) of the applicant or an immediate family member of an extended family member (for example spouse or child under 18 of an extended family member). Other family members will be considered where there are exceptional circumstances.
  • Applicants to this scheme must have been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022. 
  • There is no application fee. Applications are submitted online and applicants who are overseas and have a valid Ukrainian international passport or an expired Ukrainian international passport, with a formal extension stamp issued by the Ukrainian government will not need to attend a Visa Application Centre to enrol their biometrics. They will receive an official permission letter from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) confirming that they can travel to the UK and can show this to the carrier to enable them to travel to the UK and to Border Force Officers on arrival. Their passports will be endorsed with a six months entry stamp which will be evidence of their right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK for that period.
  • Within six months of arriving in the UK, applicants will need to submit their biometrics to extend their stay for up to three years and be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as evidence of their status. There is no application fee for this application.
  • Visas will be granted for up to three years and successful applicants will have the full right to work and to access benefits.
  • This scheme is open to those who have already arrived in the UK and meet the requirements above, for example people who were in the UK as visitors when conflict broke out.
  • If employing a person that holds a visa under this scheme, you will have to carry out all of the usual right to works checks.
  • Applicants are asked to provide official evidence of their relationship to their UK sponsor, which of course may be difficult to do as many will have fled their homes without this type of evidence. UKVI state that where applicants are unable to provide this evidence, they can still apply and should explain why they are unable to provide the evidence of relationship.
  • Currently the Ukraine Family Scheme does not permit Ukrainian family members or extended family members of those in the UK on time limited visas to apply. The government has been urged to rethink this as it excludes family members of students, including parents of minors on child student visas as well as Skilled Workers and Sportspersons. We will provide an update if this changes.

2. Homes for Ukraine Scheme

  • This is for Ukrainian nationals and immediate family members of Ukrainian nationals who were resident in Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022 and who do not have a family connection to the UK.
  • Phase one opens on Friday 18 March 2022 for applications from Ukrainians who have named people willing to sponsor them. Willing sponsors should get in touch with the applicants directly and prepare a visa application form with both parties’ details.
  • Willing sponsors must register their interest on the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
  • Sponsors who do not know anyone that they wish to sponsor can contact charities, faith groups or local community organisations who are making connections between individuals.
  • Background checks will be carried out on sponsors and applicants. Safeguarding checks may also be carried out and the checks may be carried out on a rolling basis.
  • Sponsors can be of any nationality and immigration status, as long as they have at least six months’ leave to remain in the UK.
  • Individual sponsors in the UK should be able to offer accommodation for at least six months. Sponsors will receive an optional ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month from the government. This is limited to one per residential address and will be paid in arrears for the length of time that the sponsor sponsors a Ukrainian/family up to twelve months. Sponsors will not be expected to cover the cost of food and living expenses, but are permitted to if they so choose and are able to.
  • Applicants will be granted leave to remain in the UK for three years and will be permitted to work and access benefits and public services.
  • Charities, businesses, faith and community groups will be able to act as sponsors in future and can record their interest. There is no information as to when organisations will be able to start sponsoring.
  • Holders of valid Ukrainian passports will be able to complete their applications online without attending a biometric appointment at a visa application centre. It is unclear exactly how their biometrics will be captured on arrival in the UK and we will update this as the information is released. Ukrainians who do not have valid passports will have to attend a biometric appointment at a visa application centre in order to complete their application.

The government have announced that caseworkers are being ‘surged’ to process applications from Ukrainians as quickly as possible. To enable them to do so, priority and super priority services have been temporarily suspended. This is an ever-evolving situation and updates will be provided as it develops.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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