The government has now announced the introduction of The Ukrainian Family Scheme; this is in addition to the concessions under the Family Migration Visa, which were announced on the 27th of February 2022 and allowed certain Ukrainians to come and stay in the UK. We covered these concessions in our previous blog post. The number of people covered under the initial concessions was quite limited and the government has faced pressure to do more, especially as other European nations are allowing many more Ukraine nationals to enter.
Following this pressure, on the 1st of March, the government announced that they would be expanding the Ukrainian Humanitarian Route. There are two parts to this, the Ukrainian Family Scheme, which allows British nationals and settled people in the UK to invite their family members, and a local sponsorship scheme, which allows UK residents to sponsor families or individuals to come to the UK.
New Ukrainian Family Scheme
The new changes will allow extended family members of British nationals and people settled in the UK to travel to and stay in the UK. This differs from the previous concession, which only covered British nationals who ordinarily live in Ukraine.
Extended family members can apply to the Ukraine Family Scheme from Friday (4 March 2022).
It also includes more family members, including parents, grandparents, adult children and siblings from Ukraine, as well as immediate family members. Another key difference to the previous concession is that extended family members will also be able to bring their immediate family with them. For example, the sibling of a settled person will be able to come to the UK with their husband/wife and child/children.
Who is covered by the new policy?
Immediate family members include:
- A spouse or civil partner
- An unmarried partner (must have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years)
- Your parent if you are under the age of 18
- Your child under the age of 18
- An adult relative you provide care for who lives with you due to a medical condition
Extended family members include:
- Adult children
This applies to Ukraine nationals who are in the UK and want to bring family, as well as British nationals and people of any nationality who have family in Ukraine.
Where can people apply for this visa?
Although the Visa Application Centre in Kyiv has closed in response to the conflict, the Home Office has increased capacity to neighbouring countries including Hungary, Poland and Moldova. A new pop-up Visa Application Centre in Rzeszow, Poland, has also been opened to cater for additional demand.
How can family members apply?
Anyone who thinks they may be eligible for the Ukrainian Family Scheme should call 0300 3032785. They then need to go to a Visa Application Centre in a neighbouring country to enrol their biometrics, once they have submitted an application. Unlike for standard family visas, requirements for salary or language tests will be waived. The government has stated that essential security checks will take place, given the action being taken by the Russian state, but the Home Office will apparently accelerate these checks and process applications as quickly as possible.
New Local sponsorship scheme
The Local Sponsorship Scheme is a new scheme to allow Ukrainians with no current ties to the UK to come here. The government states that it is a ‘sponsored humanitarian visa’ route that will allow sponsors, such as communities, private sponsors or local authorities, to bring people to the UK, by providing housing and integration support.
Who will be eligible?
It appears that any Ukrainian who has been linked to a sponsor partner will be able to come.
What are the terms of the scheme?
The government is scrambling to sort out the finer details, but it is suggesting that Ukrainians will be able to work and the length of the visa will be 12 months initially, with the possibility that this will be extended, depending on the circumstances. The scheme will be uncapped, meaning that there is no limit to how many people can come, other than the number of sponsors that come forward.
How to apply under the local sponsorship scheme
The government, via The Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP stated that ‘further details on the community sponsorship route are being worked up at pace and will be communicated in due course, including how people and organisations in the UK can apply to be sponsors‘. In other words, the government is still working out the finer details…
How does the UK now compare with other EU countries?
The government has responded positively to pressure to do more for Ukrainians seeking humanitarian protection, which is very welcome given the nature and scale of the situation. How do we now compare to our European neighbours?
Aljazeera has reported on the willingness of neighbouring countries, including Moldova, Poland, Hungary and Greece, who have all opened their borders and made pledges of support for Ukrainian citizens and those arriving in Ukraine’s neighbours. Finland has also said how willing they are to receive refugees.
In the rest of the EU, the Guardian reported that Ukrainian refugees would have the right to live and work in the European Union for up to three years, under an emergency plan in response to the crisis.
So, although the government’s expansion to the existing concessions is definitely a step in the right direction, it appears we are currently still offering less than our European neighbours.
Why use Cross Border Legal Solicitors to assist with an application for a UK Family Visa or other Immigration matter?
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