Insights
Insights 02.3.22 Author: Andreja Okamgba

UK immigration options for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine

Insights 02.03.2022 Author: Andreja Okamgba

In light of the current conflict in Ukraine, the European Union is preparing to grant all Ukrainians who flee, a blanket right to stay and work throughout the 27 nations for up to three years.

The UK is also loosening the rules and waiving certain requirements and fees. Below, we have taken a  brief look at the current provisions for Ukrainian refugees arriving in the UK.

Asylum and Humanitarian Protection

Ukrainians in the UK may be entitled to asylum and/or humanitarian protection. All Ukrainians are able to claim on grounds of Ukrainian nationality or Ukrainian national and ethnic origin. Certain groups could also be protected on grounds of forced conscription and protection of LGBT+ individuals. A basic guide to claiming asylum can be found here.

Family routes

All the usual fee-paying routes remain available to Ukrainian nationals, including partners and parents of minor children of British Citizens. In addition, the Home Office has made concessions to enable free applications for immediate family members who usually live in Ukraine, to join British citizen family members in the UK or to remain in the UK. This concession applies to applicants of any nationality who usually live in Ukraine and have a family connection with a British national in the following categories:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Unmarried partner of at least two years
  • Parent, if the applicant is under 18
  • Child under 18
  • Adult relative subject to strict conditions

Applicants in concession cases should contact the Home Office before making an application on a dedicated 24/7 helpline +44 300 3032785. If eligible the applicant will be advised how to lodge an application free of charge and this will be processed within 24 hours of the biometrics appointment. This can be done from the temporary visa application centre in Lviv or from another country including Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary.

Extensions to the family routes were announced on 1 March and please see below for the details currently known.

Visitor visas

Individuals who intend to visit the UK for no more than six months while waiting for the conflict to end, may be eligible for a Standard Visitor visa. Their activities in the UK must be limited to genuine visitor activities only (visiting family, tourism) and they will not be allowed to work (paid or unpaid) but can volunteer for a registered charity for up to 30 days. Further details can be found here.

Using existing visas

Ukrainians may hold valid visas for temporary stay, issued before the invasion. These visas remain valid and should allow the holder to board and travel to the UK as long as the purpose of the entry has not changed and is consistent with the visa held.

New routes announced on 1 March 2022

Ukrainian Family Scheme

The Home Secretary announced on 1 March 2022 a new scheme allowing UK citizens and holders of Indefinite Leave to Remain (including Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme) to bring extended family members to the UK. That includes parents, grandparents, adult children, siblings and immediate family members already covered by the concessions above. Immediate family of those eligible are also covered i.e. a British citizen can bring a Ukrainian sibling and sibling’s spouse and minor children.

Humanitarian Sponsorship pathway

On 1 March the Home Secretary also announced a route to be established which will allow entry to the UK for Ukrainians without family ties in the UK. The details change frequently as the scheme is evolving, but you can find further information on sponsoring Ukrainians under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, either as an individual or as an organisation here.

Ukrainians are able to access free UK immigration advice through “Ukraine Advice project UK” which CBW’s HR Consultancy’s advisors are also part of, to ensure the query is matched with the best advisor able to offer the required advice.

What next?

If you have any questions regarding immigration options, please speak to Andreja Okamgba.