Thousands more Ukrainians will be welcomed to the UK as the Government continues its support for Ukraine in their fight against the Russian invasion.
The Prime Minister announced on 01 March an expansion to our Ukrainian Humanitarian Route, which will increase the number of people from Ukraine who are eligible to come to the UK to be reunited with their families.
As well as immediate family members, British nationals and people of any nationality settled in the UK will now be supported to bring parents, grandparents, adult children and siblings to the UK.
Normal requirements for salary or language tests will be waived. Essential security checks will take place, given the malign action being taken by the Russian state to infiltrate Ukraine but the Home Office will continue to accelerate these checks and process applications as quickly as possible.
People in the region who are eligible under this route are encouraged to call the helpline on 0300 3032785 and to go to a Visa Application Centre in a neighbouring country to enrol biometrics once they have submitted an application.
The Home Secretary explained: “British nationals and people settled in the UK can bring a wider group of family members to the UK, extending eligibility to parents, grandparents, adult offspring, siblings, and their immediate family members. Again, this scheme will be free. Those joining family in the UK will be granted leave for an initial period of 12 months. They will be able to work and access public funds.”
The Home Office confirmed in a press release that extended family members in Ukraine will be able to bring their immediate family with them to the UK. This means, for example, that a brother or sister of a Ukrainian person settled in the UK will be able to come to the UK with their spouse and their children aged under 18.
Extended family members will not need to comply with the normal visa eligibility criteria such as salary or English language in order to come to the UK, but they will need to undergo security checks. The Home Office will process applications as quickly as possible.
The Prime Minister also announced plans for a new scheme for Ukrainians with no ties to the UK to come here. An uncapped sponsored humanitarian visa route will allow sponsors, such as communities, private sponsors or local authorities, to bring people to the UK. They will be able to work and the sponsor would provide housing and integration support.
The Government will work closely with international partners and neighbouring countries on the scheme to ensure that displaced Ukrainians forced to flee their homes are supported to apply. We will ensure that those who want to sponsor an individual or family can volunteer and be matched quickly with Ukrainians in need, working closely with the devolved administrations and local authorities across the country.
This is the latest in a package of humanitarian support to help Ukrainian people and is being brought forward following extensive discussion with Ukrainian leaders and other countries in the region.
While the Visa Application Centre in Kyiv has had to close in response to the conflict, the Home Office has surged capacity to other countries including Hungary, Poland and Moldova. A new pop-up Visa Application Centre in Rzeszow, Poland, has also been opened.
The staggered steps the UK has taken is in response to the evolving threat situation. Further changes will be made if needed, following discussions with Ukrainian leaders to ensure that support meets their needs.
The announcement is the latest in a series of measures:
- Last week the Home Secretary confirmed that Ukrainians who are on work, study or visit visas in the UK will have their visas temporarily extended or be able to switch to different visa routes or for those on seasonal work visas to have their leave temporarily extended.
- We have waived fees, fast-tracked visas and allowed entry to others who did not meet the requirements.
- The Home Office established 24/7 bespoke helplines to support people through the Ukrainian Humanitarian Route
Important update as of 02 March 2022: it has been reported today that the details announced yesterday by the Home Secretary and the Home Office about the new scheme for extended family members do not yet apply. It was reported that people have been left angry and disappointed after calling the Home Office helpline as the Home Office advisors knew nothing about the new visa scheme.
As of now, it is not yet clear how it is going to work in practice. Therefore, more details to be known and published in due course.