On 1 March 2022, in the House of Commons, the Home Secretary Priti Patel announced phase two of the government’s bespoke humanitarian support package for the people of Ukraine. These measures have been designed, she said, to enable swift implementation without the need for changes to legislation or the Immigration Rules, whilst still enabling security checks and biometrics on those entering the UK.
What do the changes mean for Ukrainians travelling to the UK?
Currently, there are three extended measures for Ukrainian nationals:
First, family members of British nationals’ resident in the UK and who need a visa to enter the country, can apply through Visa Application Centres in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Appointment and walk-in capacity at these centres have been increased to meet demand.
The Home Secretary announced that eligibility under the scheme has been widened to include extended family members. British citizens and those settled in the UK can, in addition to the immediate qualifying family unit bring parents, grandparents, adult offspring, siblings, and their own immediate family members. Those joining their family in the UK will be granted leave for an initial period of 12 months, during which time they will be able to work and access public services. The scheme is free, and can be accessed through an initial telephone call to the 24 hour dedicated Home Office hotline:
Telephone: +44 300 3032785 – select option 1 (0300 3032785 if you’re in the UK – select option 1)
Lines are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
The Home Secretary has removed the usual salary requirements and English language thresholds for those coming to the UK to be with their family members. Where Ukrainians do not meet the normal eligibility criteria, but do pass all security checks, the Home Office will issue a 12-month permission to remain in the UK, outside of the normal Immigration Rules.
Further, there is no limit to the numbers eligible to apply for a status under this route, and the government anticipates that this policy alone will provide opportunities for an additional 100,000 Ukrainians to come to the UK.
Secondly, phase two of the government support package also includes a humanitarian sponsorship pathway, which will open a route to the UK for Ukrainians who may not have family ties here, but who are able to match with individuals, charities, and businesses that can provide sponsorship. Several government branches will also be working to make this route accessible through local outreach in the devolved nations. Those who come to the UK under this scheme will, similarly to above, be granted leave for an initial 12-month period, be able to work, and have access to public services. Again, there will be no limit on the number of Ukrainian entrants under this scheme. Further updates on this scheme will be announced in due course.
Finally, visas for Ukrainian temporary workers in some sectors are being extended so that these workers can stay until at least 31 December 2022.
Please contact your Magrath Sheldrick representative for further information.