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UK relaxes visa rules for Ukrainian refugees

UK relaxes visa rules for Ukrainian refugees

UK relaxes visa rules for Ukrainian refugees

Visa rules are set to be relaxed in the UK, allowing people in the UK to bring over Ukrainian family members, as the Government extends their support to those who are fleeing the ongoing war.

It had already been announced that a number of concessions are being made for Ukrainian nationals already in the UK with valid visas. This involves various changes, including:

  • Ukrainian nationals on the existing points-based system being allowed to extend their leave in the UK
  • Ukrainian nationals on an existing visitor visa being allows to switch to a points-based system immigration route without leaving the UK
  • Ukrainian nationals on existing seasonal worker visas having their leave extended to 31 December 2022
  • Ukrainian nationals in temporary HGV/pork butcher jobs having their leave extended to 31 December 2022

Now, the Ukraine Family Scheme, allowing Ukrainians and their immediate family members to join their UK-based family members here, will be widened to include additional extended family members of the UK based family member.

It’s estimated that these changes will mean that the UK can take in 200,000 or more Ukrainian refugees.

In addition to this, a new visa sponsor route, called the Local Sponsorship Scheme for Ukraine, is also being implemented to allow UK firms to sponsor Ukrainians without UK family ties entering the country. The scheme will match people with sponsors and there will be no upper limit on this scheme.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has told MPs that both of these schemes will allow Ukrainians to live in the UK for an initial 12 months and give them the right to work and access public services.

How can Ukrainians apply for family visas?

Currently, it is possible to make an application for a family visa in the Ukrainian city of Lviv or at centres in nearby countries Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova.

It is not necessary to show English language capabilities or proof of income, but biometric information still needs to be provided.

It is estimated that applications can take up to 24 hours to be processed, but Ms Patel claims that some are being done “in just hours”.

What other routes are available for Ukrainian nationals?

As previously mentioned, the Local Sponsorship Scheme for Ukraine provides options to Ukrainians who don’t have any family ties to the UK.

Details on how people and organisations in the UK can apply to be sponsors are still being worked out.

Until this Scheme has been implemented, Ukrainian nationals without family ties cannot make visa applications from Ukraine to visit, work or study in the UK to escape the war.

Are further changes to visa rules likely to happen?

Currently, it is estimated that around seven million people have been displaced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the United Nations reporting that more than 500,000 people have fled the country.

EU members have so far agreed to let in Ukrainian refugees for up to three years without them having to seek asylum. For instance, more than 280,000 Ukrainian nationals have crossed the border into Poland so far.

However, when responding to some calls for the UK government to waive all visas for Ukrainians, Ms Patel outlined that Russian troops are currently seeking to infiltrate Ukrainian forces, with extremists on the ground in Ukraine, stating that “we cannot suspend any security or biometric checks on people we welcome to our country”.

This certainly suggests that, for the time being at least, the UK will still be implementing a certain level of restrictions on the number of Ukrainian nationals it accepts.

As the situation in Ukraine is so fluid, there remains a possibility that further changes to visa rules will take place, though there is no guarantee that this will be the case.

Speak to our expert immigration solicitors today

At IBB Law, our expert immigration solicitors have substantial expertise in handling complex immigration matters, including visa applications. If you are affected by the crisis in Ukraine, we can carefully review your case and circumstances, providing tailored advice and guidance on what steps you need to take.

Contact a member of our immigration team today on immigrationteam@ibblaw.co.uk, or 03456 381381 to see how we can help you with your immigration matter.