- 11 March 2022
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting refugee crisis, the UK government has established the Ukraine Family Scheme (the Ukraine Scheme) for Ukrainian refugees to join their family members in the UK. It is free to apply to the Scheme, and once in the UK, visa holders are permitted to work, study, access public funds, and extend their permission to stay in the UK.
Whilst the Ukraine Scheme is being incorporated into the UK’s Immigration rules, it is operating as a concession and applicants who successfully apply to the Ukraine Scheme are currently granted with leave outside the scope of the Immigration rules.
Who may apply?
To be eligible to apply, an applicant must:
- Have Ukrainian nationality or be the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national who is also applying to the Ukraine Scheme;
- Have been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022; and
- Be applying to join their UK-based family member who has either British nationality, indefinite leave to remain (ILR)/settled status/permanent residence, pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and started living in the UK prior to 1 January 2021, or refugee/humanitarian protection status in the UK.
Whilst designed primarily for overseas applicants, the Home Office has advised that applicants in the UK will qualify for the Ukraine Scheme, subject to meeting the application criteria, thereby enabling eligible Ukrainians (and their immediate family members) already in the UK (with/without immigration permission), to regularise their immigration status.
UK-based family member
The applicant’s UK-based family member must be resident in the UK but does not have to be physically present in the UK at the time of the application, unless they are a British citizen.
Applicants to the Ukraine Scheme must evidence (with official documentation i.e., birth/adoption or marriage/civil partnership certificates) that their UK-based family member is either an immediate family member, extended family member, or an immediate family member of an extended family member.
Immediate family members include an applicant’s:
- Spouse/civil partner
- Unmarried partner he/she has lived with in a relationship for at least two years
- Fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner
- Child under 18
- Parent (if the applicant is under 18)
Extended family members include an applicant’s:
- Parent (if the applicant is over 18)
- Child aged 18 or above
- Grandchild or partner’s grandchild
- Aunt or uncle
- Niece or nephew
- Mother-in-law or father-in-law
- Brother-in-law or sister-in-law
Immediate family members of extended family members include the spouse/civil partner, child under 18, or fiancé(e)/proposed civil partner of the applicant’s extended family member, and the parent of a child under 18 who is an extended family member. This list is not exhaustive, and the Home Office will consider other unique family relationships in limited circumstances.
It is free to apply to the Scheme, and once in the UK, visa holders are permitted to work, study, access public funds, and extend their permission to stay in the UK.
Applicants should ideally provide a valid passport to establish their identity and nationality, however the Home Office should also accept one or more of the following documents:
- An expired passport (for applicants aged 25 and above – less than 10 years expired, for applicants under 25 – less than 5 years expired)
- Ukrainian National ID card
- UK-issued Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or Biometric Residence Card (BRC)
- An emergency certificate issued by a Ukrainian authority
- Combination of other official documents with photographs of the applicant e.g., driving licence and birth certificate
The applicant’s UK-based family member must provide a screenshot/copy of a document establishing their identity and UK status, with the required type of document depending on their UK immigration status:
- British citizenship – bio data page of their valid/recently expired British passport
- ILR – copies of both sides of their BRP
- EU Settled Status – EU Settlement Scheme reference number along with their date of birth or the Home Office letter granting status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- EU Pre-Settled Status – share code generated from the Home Office View and Prove your immigration status online service along with their date of birth, or the Home Office letter granting status under the EU Settlement Scheme
Applicants must evidence that they have been ordinarily resident in Ukraine on or immediately prior to 1 January 2022, unless they are already in the UK, or they are a child born/adopted on or after this date. The Home Office will accept passports, official documents issued by Ukrainian authorities, utility bills, bank statements, medical correspondence, mortgage/tenancy agreements, and employment or education documents as evidence of an applicant’s ordinary residence in Ukraine.
Applicants who were not ordinarily resident in Ukraine on or immediately prior to 1 January 2022 normally will not be eligible to apply to the Ukraine Scheme.
How to apply
Applications are submitted online whether the applicant is in or outside the UK. From 15 March 2022, overseas applicants who hold a valid Ukrainian passport no longer need to attend a biometric appointment at a UK visa application centre. Applicants applying from within the UK must attend a biometric appointment at a UKVCAS service point.
The Tuberculosis (TB) testing requirement for residents of Ukraine has been waived for those applying to the Ukraine Scheme.
There are no standard processing times, however the Home Office has endeavoured to prioritise Ukraine Scheme applications. Applicants outside the UK are advised to apply for entry clearance under the Ukraine Scheme prior to travelling to the UK, however if they arrive at a UK port without the requisite entry clearance, they may be considered for six months’ leave outside the immigration rules if the UK-based family member relationship requirements are met. Once in the UK, they can then apply to the Ukraine Scheme.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.
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