Updates To The Ukraine Immigration Schemes

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The Home Office introduced a number of schemes to support Ukrainian nationals and their family members in response to the war in Ukraine. This post covers the changes to the Ukraine schemes...
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The Home Office introduced a number of schemes to support Ukrainian nationals and their family members in response to the war in Ukraine. This post covers the changes to the Ukraine schemes under the Immigration Rules since its inception, following significant amendments in recent months. These amendments result from the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules which came into effect on 19 February 2024.

Ukraine Family Scheme Closed

Significantly, the Ukraine Family Scheme is now closed to new applicants.

As such, the two relevant routes which remain open are the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme and the Ukraine Extension Scheme, as set out below.

Ukraine Extension Scheme Deadline

The deadline to apply for the Ukraine Extension Scheme is 16 May 2024. It remains open after this date only for children who are born in the UK to parents who qualify under Appendix Ukraine at the time of application. For such children, their permission will be granted in line with their parents.

If you are making an application by 16 May 2024, you must have either:

  • had permission to be in the UK on or between 18 March 2022 and 16 November 2023 – the permission does not need to cover the whole period
  • previously had permission to be in the UK and that permission expired on or after 1 January 2022

The Home Office guidance states the following regarding the definition of 'permission to be in the UK' under this route:

Ukrainian nationals who are eligible for the Ukraine Extension Scheme may have permission under another route in the Immigration Rules. They may also have been given permission outside of the Immigration Rules, for example where they had a valid visit visa but no longer intended to visit the UK.

Many of the suitability requirements under Part 9 of the Immigration Rules apply under this scheme. As of 19 February 2024, two more of the grounds for refusal were made applicable, these are:

  • previous breach of immigration laws (paragraph 9.8.1-9.8.8)
  • failure to provide required information (paragraph 9.9.1-9.9.2)

Applications made by 16 May 2024 can be made for children if the child was born in the UK after 18 March 2022 and if one of the following is true:

  • you have permission to be in the UK under one of the Ukraine Schemes (including the Ukraine Family Scheme)
  • you qualify under the Ukraine Extension Scheme

In order to qualify for the Ukraine Extension Scheme, you must be in the UK on the date of application and you must be a Ukrainian national or the immediate family member of one, who is also applying to the scheme.

Immediate family members under this scheme include:

  • spouses or civil partners
  • unmarried partners (you must have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years)
  • children aged under 18
  • parents (if you're under 18)

Under this route, you can remain in the UK for up to 3 years. It is a free application and entitles you to live, work, study and claim public funds in the UK. The Home Office website does not give an estimated processing time for this visa. Note that no UK Sponsor is required to apply under this route.

Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme

This scheme is for Ukrainian nationals and immediate family members who seek permission to come to the UK. Crucially, the scheme requires having someone in the UK who is willing to provide a home, with the expectation being that the applicant(s) can be accommodated for a minimum of six months.

Each applicant must make a separate application, including children applying as part of a family unit.

The basic eligibility criteria for applying under this scheme is to be a Ukrainian national, or the immediate family member of one, who:

  • has been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022 (including those who have now left Ukraine);
  • is currently outside the UK;
  • has a UK-based sponsor who is eligible for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

More detailed information on the requirements of the route can be found in this blog post here. However, please note that a grant of permission on this scheme is now for 18 months not 36 months and a Sponsor can no longer be any person holding at least six months' immigration permission. A Sponsor must now be:

  • a British or Irish citizen, or be 'settled in the UK' (which means having the right to live in the UK permanently)
  • able to provide accommodation for a minimum of 6 months

Similarly to the Ukraine Extension Scheme, the two new grounds of refusal under Part 9 of the Immigration Rules are now applicable to this scheme also.

New Ukraine Permission Extension Scheme

This is a new scheme which will open from early 2025. The Home Office website indicates that you will be able to apply within the last 3 months of your existing visa.

If you have previously been granted permission under one of the Ukraine scheme routes, you may be able to apply for a further 18 months permission to stay. You may also be able to apply if you did have permission under the Ukraine schemes and subsequently successfully applied for another visa to stay in the UK, or if you hold permission outside of the Immigration Rules because you require sanctuary in the UK.

This route provides the same entitlements as the other Ukraine schemes and is a free application.

Limited information is available on this route thus far since it is not yet open. Updates will be posted on the government webpage here.

Other Options for Ukrainians Staying in the UK

It is also worth considering if you are eligible to apply under another immigration route, such as the partner route or a work route. This will depend on your individual circumstances and you may wish to seek legal advice as to this.

Currently, time spent under these routes does not count towards settlement under the partner or work routes. It is therefore worth considering the most beneficial and expedient route in your circumstances if your aim is to settle in the UK.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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