As the humanitarian situation in Ukraine worsens, the UK government has recently (on the 27th of February 2022) published guidance in response to the call for humanitarian help, by allowing certain Ukrainians to come and stay in the UK.
The Ukrinane Abroad Concession
Unfortunately, this concession only covers a very limited group of people and does not create any new visas that didn’t exist prior to this crisis. It allows Ukranian family members of British nationals to apply for a family migration visa, free of charge, if the British national usually lives in Ukraine.
For example, if a British national who has been living and working in Kyiv has a wife who is a Ukrainian national, they would normally be able to apply for a Spouse Visa so that the wife can relocate with her husband to the UK. This process would usually cost £1,523 for the visa application fee, plus £1,872 for the International Health Surcharge and the couple would need to meet financial and other requirements. Under this concession, there would be no fees and one would have a solid case to argue that the financial requirement should be overlooked, allowing a visa to be granted under exceptional circumstances.
Definition of who is considered a family member
As mentioned, the definition of a family member is restricted to British national family members, who must be one of the following:
- A spouse or a civil partner.
- An unmarried partner (who has been living with their partner for at least two years).
- A child under the age of 18.
- Parents of a British child who is under the age of 18.
- Adult relatives who are currently being provided care by the British national due to a medical condition.
It is notable from the above list that these family members would ordinarily be able to apply for a visa to come to the UK anyway, and that except for the cost and relaxation of the eligibility requirements, this policy does not make that much difference to who can come.
How to apply for this concession.
If you wish to make an application you should contact the Home Office prior to doing so, and they will confirm if you are eligible for the free application process.
You should contact UKVI before you make an application on:.
Telephone: +44 300 3032785 – select option 1 (0300 3032785 if you’re in the UK – select option 1)Lines are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
However, it should be noted that the UK visa application centre in Kyiv is now closed, and applicants will need to submit their passports and biometrics to the nearest UK visa centre that is currently operating in Poland, Moldovia, Romania or Hungary.
The Home Office has promised to expedite the process and reduce the waiting time to 24 hours from the date of biometrics being submitted at the visa centre.
Other Ukrainian Nationals
We note that other Ukrainian nationals, who are not family members of British nationals, or who are family members of British nationals who are not Ukraine residents, are not covered by this concession,
For example, a Ukrainian national who has recently married a British citizen who lives in the UK. These people would need to apply for a usual visa, such as a work, visitor or family visa, through any of the available visa application centres and meet the relevant requirements, with full payment of the application fee.
The Home Office has also promised that they will consider any compassionate reasons for not meeting the requirements or for needing to travel.
Ukrainians in the UK Concession
The Home Office has also made temporary provisions to allow Ukrainian nationals already in the UK to extend their stay, should their existing visas be expiring.
This concession applies to any Ukrainian in the UK who is unable to travel to Ukraine and allows those who are here on a Visitor Visa to switch to a more permanent point-based or family member route, without having to leave the country. Please note that the requirements for that visa still need to be met and the relevant fees paid.
The Home Office has also allowed those here on temporary worker visas to temporarily extend their visas until the 31st of December 2022, allowing them to continue working in the same role without them having to make an application. The Home Office will liaise with their sponsors to process the extension. This applies to temporary HGV drivers and Pork butchers. Note that such temporary workers can also now switch to more permanent point-based or family member routes if they qualify.
Ukraine nationals who are here with a temporary skilled worker visa that is due to expire would need to extend their visa under the usual immigration rules. The same applies to students, who in addition can switch to a Graduate Visa if they have completed their university studies.
Sum-up: Headline News but nothing new if you read the fine print
While this policy may be hitting the headlines, the devil is in the details; we note with great sorrow the situation in Ukraine and that our government response will hardly make a dent in the humanitarian crisis, given the magnitude of the situation. Our hearts go out to all of those affected and we will keep you updated if there are changes.
Why use Cross Border Legal Solicitors to assist with an application for a UK Family Visa or other Immigration matter?
With more than 10 years of experience behind us and the solicitor’s personal understanding of the immigration process, we are experts in Immigration law and visa applications. We provide personal and effective support for your application process and handle the case from start to finish. We have assisted hundreds of happy clients – please see our testimonials – so you can be assured that with our assistance your visa application will run smoothly.
Our specialist immigration solicitor will offer you an honest appraisal of your options for free. There is no obligation to instruct us, but if you would like our assistance, we charge a reasonable fixed fee, which you are informed of upfront and can be paid in installments to suit your circumstances.
Please feel free to share and comment to raise awareness of these issues. Also, if you have been affected by any of these immigration rule changes and need a quick chat with a UK Immigration Solicitor, do not hesitate to contact Tito Mbariti for a free one-off, no-obligation general immigration advice consultation via either phone, WeChat, Facetime or Skype.
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