Guidance for Ukraine Nationals coming to the UK

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Some of the Breytenbachs immigration consultants are registered to do pro-bono work for Ukrainian nationals via the Free Movement Project. However, we believe the guidance below will enable Ukrainian citizens to apply for the various routes directly and without further assistance. 

Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants are happy to provide Ukraine Nationals hoping to come to the UK with the free guidance below.

However, please note that Home Office guidance can vary, often at short notice. While the information given is correct as of writing, the Home Office may make further changes, rendering the advice no longer accurate. We will, however, do our utmost to update the guidance when and if the Home Office makes changes.

ASYLUM FOR UKRAINE NATIONALS

We strongly suggest that nationals from Ukraine who seek advice on Asylum contact the Ukraine Advice Project, as Breytenbachs do not provide advice on matters of Asylum.

UKRAINE FAMILY SCHEME

The UK Home Office has implemented a Ukraine Family Scheme visa. This scheme enables Ukrainian nationals to come to/stay in the UK in certain circumstances.

How to qualify

You will need to meet the following requirements

  • Applying to join/accompany a UK-based family member;
  • You must be Ukrainian or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national applying to the scheme.
  • Residing in Ukraine before 01/01/2022 (but may have since left Ukraine).

Your UK-based family member must be one of the following

  • A British national; or
  • Someone settled in the UK (e.g. holding Indefinite Leave to Remain, settled status, or permanent residence);
  • Someone from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland who has pre-settled status and started living in the UK before 01/01/2021;
  • Someone with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK.

The UK-based family member must qualify as an immediate family member, an extended family member, or an immediate family member of an extended family member. Please see bullet points below for further details in this respect. Evidence must usually be provided of the relationship (e.g. an unabridged birth certificate). However, the Home Office guidance states that applicants who are unable to provide this evidence can still apply with an explanation as to why the document cannot be provided. We do not yet have any real insight into how lenient the Home Office is on this requirement or how easily they will be satisfied that a relationship is genuine in the absence of documentary evidence.

The Home Office considers an immediate family member to be any of the following

  • spouse/civil partner,
  • an unmarried partner (where the couple have lived together in a relationship for at least two years),
  • child under the age of 18,
  • a parent if the applicant is under 18,
  • fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner.

The Home Office considers an extended family member to be any of the following

  • Parent if the applicant is over 18,
  • a child who is over 18,
  • grandparent,
  • a grandchild or a partner’s grandchild,
  • brother or sister.
  • aunt or uncle
  • niece or nephew
  • cousin
  • mother-in-law or father-in-law
  • grandparent-in-law
  • brother or sister-in-law

The Home Office considers an immediate family member of an extended family member to be any of the following

  • a spouse or civil partner of an extended family member,
  • child under 18 of an extended family member,
  • a parent or child of a child under 18 who is an extended family member,
  • fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of an extended family member.

Important to note is that the Home Office further states that if the UK-based family member is the applicant’s (or an extended family member’s) spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, the relationship must have started before 1 January 2022.

The Home Office also confirms in the current guidance that other family members will be considered where there are exceptional circumstances.

Please note that the Home Office may undertake security checks on all applicants to the Ukraine Family Scheme. They may refuse an application if there are general grounds of refusal applied to applications under this scheme relating to the applicant’s good character.

Successful Visa Application

If you successfully apply under the Ukraine Family Scheme, you will receive a visa of up to three years. This visa will allow you to live, work, and study in the UK and give access to public funds.

Home Office Ukrainian Helpline

If you believe you qualify for the Ukraine Family Scheme and need further advice, you can phone the Home Office Ukraine Helpline. It is free to use and open 24/7. The number is currently: +44(0)808 164 8810.

How to apply for the Ukraine Family Scheme

If you qualify to apply for the Ukraine Family Scheme, then an application would need to be lodged online via the following webpage.

The Home Office is not currently charging any fee for processing applications under the Ukraine Family Scheme. The application is also not subject to any immigration health surcharge (i.e. NHS surcharge).

After the online submission, you need to attend a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to provide your fingerprints and take a digital photograph. The Home Office advises that applications under this scheme will be processed on a priority basis but has not issued any timescales for applications to be decided. However, please note that once you have completed your Ukraine Family Scheme visa application form on gov.uk and obtained a GWF reference, you must first book an appointment before visiting the temporary Visa Application Centre to submit your biometrics. Only customers with booked appointments will be allowed entry to the building.

The Home Office said in a statement that from 15 March 2022 migrants with valid passports will be able to apply online and not need to attend a VAC. However, for applications lodged before 15 March, applicants will still have to visit the VAC to provide biometrics.

Temporary Visa Application Centre in Poland

Visa Application Centres (VAC) are operational throughout Europe, including in Poland. There is a temporary VAC in Rzeszow, Poland, for people applying for the Ukraine Family Scheme. However, applications can also be lodged at a VAC in any country that you are able to travel to safely.

ALTERNATIVE IMMIGRATION OPTIONS FOR UKRAINE NATIONALS

The options below do not exhaustively cover every possible visa route for the UK. They have been selected due to their potential viability.  

EU Settlement Scheme

If you have a family member from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland who is living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you may also have the option to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit.

If this is applicable, you would have the option to apply via the Ukraine Family Scheme or the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit.

The Home Office requests that applicants refrain from applying for both schemes simultaneously and confirms that, regardless of which scheme is utilised, eligible applicants will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme once they are inside the UK.

Sponsorship – Skilled Worker Visa Scheme or Tier 5 Temporary Worker

If you can secure a suitable job offer with a UK company that can offer sponsorship under the Skilled Worker visa scheme or Tier 5 Temporary Worker scheme, then this may provide a route to the UK.

UK Student Visa

If you secure a place at a UK University or college that can offer sponsorship for a UK student visa, this may provide a route to the UK. However, UK university tuition fees for international students can be prohibitively expensive.

UK Visitor Visa

It is also possible for Ukrainian nationals to apply for a UK Visitor Visa. However, one of the key requirements to obtaining a Visit visa for the UK is to satisfy the Home Office that the applicant intends to return to their home country/country of residence at the end of their visit. We are wary that the Home Office may not readily accept that Ukrainian nationals fleeing the conflict meet this requirement. It would be advisable to follow one of the alternative routes outlined above.

UKRAINE NATIONALS ALREADY IN THE UK

The Home Office has confirmed that Ukrainians already in the UK with a visa will be able to extend their stay or switch to another immigration route, even if their visa does not normally allow them to do so. However, they must be eligible to extend or switch to succeed in this application.

Visitor Visa

Ukrainian nationals in the UK, on a visitor visa, can apply to switch to another route from within the UK. They have to meet the requirements of the immigration route to succeed in the application.

Skilled Workers

Ukraine Nationals in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa can apply to extend their leave or apply for settlement if they meet the criteria.

Students

Ukraine Nationals in the UK on a student visa due to expire can apply to extend their leave. They can also apply for a Graduate visa or switch to another visa from within the UK, provided they meet the requirements.

Seasonal Worker Visa

If you are a Ukraine national and in the UK with a Seasonal Worker Visa, you can extend your visa to 31 December 2022. You have to continue working in the job permitted by the Seasonal Worker route, with the same sponsor.

The good news is that you do not need to do anything. UKVI will work with your Immigration sponsor to progress your visa extension. The Home Office will notify you if this concession applies to you.

HGV Driver Visa on the Seasonal Work Route

If you are a Ukraine national with an HGV Driver Visa on the Seasonal Worker Route, you can extend your visa to 31 December 2022. You have to continue working in the job permitted by the Seasonal Worker route, with the same sponsor.

You do not need to do anything, as the UKVI will work with your Immigration sponsor to progress your visa extension. The Home Office will notify you if this concession applies to you.

Pork Butcher Visa on the Seasonal Work Route

If you are a Ukraine national with a Pork Butcher Visa on the Seasonal Worker Route, you can request a temporary extension till 31 December 2022.

If you request a temporary extension, you do not need to do anything. The UKVI will work with your Immigration sponsor to progress your visa extension. The Home Office will notify you if this concession applies to you.

Nationals from Ukraine Applying on Expired Passports

The Home Office released guidance on 4 March 2022, which commented on applicants’ identity and nationality documentation. The guidance confirms that, in the absence of a valid passport, the Home Office will accept one of the following:

  • A recently expired passport which has not exceeded its expiry date by more than ten years for applicants aged over 25 and for applicants aged under 25 years by no more than five years.
  • Ukrainian National identity card;
  • UK issued biometric permit or card,
  • A combination of other official documents containing a facial image that would enable the applicant to establish their identity and nationality, which could include a photo driving licence and a birth certificate
  •  An emergency certificate issued by a Ukrainian authority since March 2022.

You can find the guidance document confirming this information (and providing further context on the Ukraine Family Scheme) via the following webpage.

Accordingly, if your passport expired within 10 or 5 years (as applicable to your age), you should be able to make the application using that document under the above guidelines. Alternatively, if you hold a Ukrainian National identity card or one of the other documents mentioned, then that should also enable you to apply for any UK visa for which you are able to qualify.

Factsheet: Home Office visa support for Ukrainians

UK visa support for Ukrainian citizens

Further support for Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion

Ukraine Scheme

Can Ukrainians take refuge in the UK?

Foreign travel advice for Ukraine

Home Secretary Update on support for Ukrainians

You can also email the Ukraine Advice Project at [email protected]

ANNOUNCEMENTS EXPECTED SOON

Breytenbachs expect that the UK Home Office will announce soon that Ukrainians on study/work visas in the UK will be able to bring their daily. They will also be able to have their leave extended. Please see this Twitter posting for more information.

Disclaimer

This guidance is correct as at publication. However, rules and Home Office guidance change frequently without notice, so it is not a substitute for legal advice. Immigration laws are always subject to change. Applications must comply with the rules in place at the time of submission.

How Breytenbachs can help Ukraine Nationals

Breytenbachs will try to provide nationals from Ukraine with as much information as possible to apply for UK visas themselves.

If you still want to consult directly with our office, we charge a consult fee at a discounted rate for nationals from Ukraine. Please see our Contact us page for our contact details.

Please contact us today for further information or applications.

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