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UK Asylum From Ukraine

The Home Office has three schemes in place for Ukrainian nationals coming to the UK or extending their stay in the country. Depending on your circumstances, you will have to choose whichever scheme is appropriate for you.

If you are a Ukrainian citizen looking for more information and/or legal advice about how to rightfully come or remain in the UK, whether you are eligible, or what documentary evidence you must submit, call us today on +353 061 518 025 or contact us online to speak with our legal advisers.

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    Introduction to the UK Asylum Process

    According to the Home Office, foreign nationals who are unable to live safely in their countries of origin due to the fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, sexual preference, or any other issue that puts them at risk because of the social, cultural, religious or political circumstances there, may be eligible to claim asylum in the UK.

    They may also want asylum in case their country is at war or undergoing internal armed conflict, and they cannot get protection from the authorities in their home country in such a scenario.

    Since the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war in 2022, the Home Office has offered a number of immigration concessions and special visa schemes for Ukrainian nationals fleeing their country or looking to extend their stay in the UK.

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    Statistical Insights Into Ukrainian Migration to the UK

    Understandably, the migration of Ukrainian nationals to the UK has increased since the escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian war. Approximately 1,74,000 Ukrainian citizens had immigrated to the UK under the Ukraine scheme as of 9 May 2023, while in 2019, there were only around 38,000 Ukrainian-born residents in the country, as per the Office for National Statistics data.

    Women and children form a significant part of the Ukrainian nationals coming to the UK under the Ukraine schemes. As of 31 March 2023, 72 per cent of adults arriving in the UK under these schemes were women, while 29 per cent of all arrivals were minors.

    It is also worth noting that while the UK has received only around four per cent of five million Ukrainian nationals fleeing their country, in a survey run among those who entered the UK under these schemes, around 52 per cent of the adults expressed their intention to stay in the UK even when the situation becomes safer in Ukraine.

    Home Office Schemes for Ukrainian Asylum Seekers

    The main principle behind the Home Office’s policy for supporting Ukrainian nationals wishing to come or remain in the UK is to issue fast-track visas rather than conferring formal refugee status on them. This is different from the usual asylum-seeking process, where asylum seekers can register their claim at their port of entry after travelling to the UK without a visa.

    The Home Office’s goal is to expedite the processing of applications from Ukrainian nationals, keeping in mind the urgency of the war situation in Ukraine as well as keep the massive inflow of people fleeing Ukraine out of the already overburdened UK asylum system.

    The Home Office currently has three schemes in place designed for Ukrainian nationals:

    • Ukraine Family Scheme, for Ukrainian nationals who have family members settled in the UK
    • Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme or Homes for Ukraine, for Ukrainian nationals who want to be sponsored by a UK household for six months
    • Ukraine Extension Scheme, for Ukrainian nationals who are already in the UK on a different visa

    While the first two routes require a UK-based sponsor, the Ukraine Extension Scheme does not need so. In addition, you can apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme for your child born in the UK if you have permission (or applying) to remain in the country under any of the Ukraine schemes.

    You should consider the schemes thoroughly before deciding which one you are going to apply for since applying to more than one scheme may only delay the Home Office’s decision-making process. Consult an immigration lawyer while planning your application. You can speak with our IAS legal team on +353 061 518 025 or use our online chat.

    Ukraine Family Scheme

    Overview

    Ukrainian nationals who have a family member settled in the UK may apply for a visa to come to the country or extend their stay here under the Ukraine Family Scheme. You will be able to live, work and study in the UK for a maximum of three years under this scheme and will also be eligible to access public funds, if applicable.

    Eligibility

    You will have to fulfil the following eligibility requirements to apply to the Ukraine Family Scheme:

    • You must be a Ukrainian national or the family member of one who is applying to the same scheme
    • You want to join or accompany your UK-based immediate or extended family member who is:
      • A British national
      • An EEA/Swiss national with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme who started living in the UK before 1 January 2021 (in which case you may also be eligible for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit)
      • Someone settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or settled status or proof of permanent residence
      • Someone with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
    • You have been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022

    Your immediate family consists of your spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner or fiancé(e), minor children, or parents if you yourself are a minor. Your extended family includes parents if you are an adult, parents-in-law, adult children, grandparents, uncles/aunties, siblings, cousins, nephews/nieces etc.

    You may also apply under this scheme if you are already in the UK on a different visa and meet these eligibility criteria.

    Required Documents

    You will need to provide the following documents as part of your application under the Ukraine Family Scheme:

    • Any identity documents you may have with you, such as a valid passport or any other travel document, a Ukrainian national identity card, a valid driving licence with your photo, your birth certificate or an emergency certificate issued by a Ukrainian authority since March 2022
    • Documents proving your relationship to your UK-based family member
    • Your UK-based family member’s residence status in the UK
    • Documents proving that you were living in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022

    Our team of legal experts can help you obtain UK asylum for Ukrainians. Contact us

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      Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme or Homes for Ukraine

      The Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (Homes for Ukraine) allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the UK, if they are sponsored by someone in the country who can provide accommodation for them for a minimum of six months or by the Scottish or Welsh Government.

      Similar to the Ukraine Family Scheme, applicants under this scheme will be able to live, work and study in the UK for a maximum of three years and access public services, where applicable.

      Eligibility

      To apply under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, you must fulfil the eligibility criteria as follows:

      • You are a Ukrainian national or an immediate family member of one who has been granted permission to remain in the UK under the Ukrainian Sponsorship Scheme or is applying for the same
      • You were living in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022
      • You are applying from outside the UK
      • You have an eligible UK-based sponsor

      If you are a minor, you may apply under this scheme with your parent(s) or legal guardian, or apply to join them if they are already in the UK. Children under 18 may also apply with the consent of their parent(s) or legal guardian to join an approved sponsor in the UK.

      Required Documents

      To apply under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, you must submit the following documents:

      • A valid passport or any other travel document, a Ukrainian national identity card, an emergency certificate issued by a Ukrainian authority since March 2022 or any other official documents proving your identity.
      • Identity documents for your UK-based sponsor (other than the Scottish or Welsh Government), such as their UK or Irish passport or Irish passport card, biometric residence permit (BRP), refugee travel document, any other official document issued by the UK, Ireland, or the Crown Dependencies etc.
      • Documents proving that you were living in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022.

      Ukraine Extension Scheme

      If you are already in the UK on a different visa, you may apply to switch to a Ukraine Extension Scheme visa if you are a Ukrainian national or the immediate family member of one. This visa does not require any sponsor and will allow you to live, work and study in the UK for a maximum of three years. You can also access public funds if eligible.

      However, please note that any time you spend in the UK on a Ukrainian Extension Scheme visa will not be counted while calculating your total period of stay in the country for any future ILR application. So, please thoroughly consider your options before deciding to switch to the Ukraine Extension Scheme.

      Eligibility

      The eligibility criteria for the Ukraine Extension Scheme are:

      • The applicant must be a Ukrainian national or their immediate family member
      • They have had permission to be in the UK any time on or between 18 March 2022 and 16 November 2023, or previously had permission to be in the UK, which expired on or after 1 January 2022

      Required Documents

      The required documentary evidence for the Ukraine Extension Scheme includes:

      • A valid passport or any other travel document showing the applicant’s identity
      • Their current permission to stay in the UK, such as their BRP, a UK visa or vignette in their passport, a document issued by the Home Office to that effect etc.

      For non-Ukrainian nationals applying under this scheme as immediate family members of a Ukrainian national, proof of relationship will have to be submitted. They may submit their BRP or visa which shows that they are living in the UK as dependent family members of a Ukrainian national. In absence of such documentation, they may submit other relevant documents, such as a marriage or civil partnership certificate or a birth certificate.

      Other Pathways to the UK for Ukrainian Nationals

      While the three Ukraine schemes are the principal pathways for Ukrainian nationals to come to the UK at present, the Home Office has also put in place certain concessions for Ukrainians entering the country on regular visas.

      For example, a Home Office guidance document on family migration concessions, limited to Ukrainian citizens, clarifies that if an applicant is unable to provide the documentary evidence required otherwise for the family route due to the war situation in Ukraine, they may explain so in their application. The caseworkers will accept a reasonable written explanation in such cases and not ask for further evidence. Similar concessions are in place for certain UK work and study visas as well.

      Moreover, for Ukrainian citizens already in the UK on work, study or family visas, switching to other routes is now being allowed even if it was not possible earlier (or still not possible for people of other nationalities).

      However, it is important to note that the UK government is still reassessing its policy on asylum claims by Ukrainians. Since the Home Office has either removed or withdrawn all its country policy and information notes on Ukraine, it is difficult to comment at this moment on whether Ukrainian nationals will be able to claim asylum in the UK in the usual way or what would be the chances of receiving a positive decision even if you can apply.

      Get in touch with our legal advisers on +353 061 518 025 for the latest developments in this area as we continue to monitor the situation closely.

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        How to Apply Under the Ukraine Schemes

        Application under any of the Ukraine schemes is an online process. You will not be required to pay any visa processing fee, immigration health surcharge or biometric enrolment fee. For the Ukraine Extension Scheme, you may apply until 16 May 2024. No such time limit is applicable as of now for the other two Ukraine visa schemes.

        You will have to visit the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website to start your online application. As part of your application you will have to book an appointment to submit your biometric data (i.e. facial photo and fingerprints) at a visa application centre (VAC).

        Please note that if you are applying from Ukraine, you will have to collect your UK visa, if approved, from Warsaw in Poland. If you are applying from any other country, you will need to collect your visa vignette from the same VAC where you submitted your biometrics information.

        It has been explicitly specified on the UKVI website that Ukrainian nationals must not travel to the UK before they have a valid visa or a permission letter from the Home Office to enter the country. These visas are usually valid for six months. After arriving in the UK on the approved visa, they will need to collect their BRP within six months, which will act as a document confirming the Ukrainian nationals’ residence status and rights in the UK.

        How Can IAS Help?

        Coming to the UK under the Ukrainian schemes can be a fairly complex process, specifically given that it would be quite challenging for Ukrainian nationals to show the required supporting documents because of the war situation in their home country.

        Moreover, keeping in mind the UK government’s overall policy to deter asylum seekers in the country, we advise that you speak with an immigration lawyer as soon as you decide to travel to the UK or extend your stay in the country.

        At IAS, we have a team of expert immigration advisers who can offer legal advice and assistance if you are coming to the UK from Ukraine. We also provide emergency support in detention cases as well as offer same-day advice sessions in urgent immigration situations. Call +353 061 518 025 or reach out to us online today to speak to our legal team.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  If you are a Ukrainian national applying for a UK visa under any of the three Ukraine schemes, the time you spend in the country on those visas will not be calculated for ILR purposes. You will need to switch to a different visa that is eligible for ILR application, e.g. a Skilled Worker visa.

                  As of now, you will get permission to stay in the UK for three years only.

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