What’s on offer in the UK?
- The UK government is offering 2 ways in which Ukrainian refugees can be relocated and rehomed in the UK.
- Both schemes offer:
- A free visa to travel to and live in the UK for up to 3 years.
- Access to healthcare, benefits, employment support, education, and English language tuition.
- Both schemes require:
- Applicants to be a Ukrainian nationals, residents in Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022 or an immediate family member or a Ukrainian national (spouse/partner and children – who may be of other nationalities).
- Where these schemes vary is:
- The Family Scheme requires the applicant to have a UK-based family member. The Sponsorship scheme does not.
- The Family Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals who previously had permission to stay in the UK, but who’s visa has expired since 1 January 2022, to extend their stay. To apply to the Sponsorship Scheme the applicant must be outside the UK.
- The Family scheme does not include accommodation benefits, only the Sponsorship scheme does.
- The UK government is also offering to extend the visas of Ukrainian nationals already in the UK independent of the schemes above.
How can applications be made?
• All applications are to be made online, to the government.
• Each individual refugee, adult or child, needs an individual application.
• An organisation can apply for the scheme on behalf of the refugee.
• Under the Sponsorship scheme an organisation can match refugees and sponsors and submit them both to the government.
• Sponsors can choose to register their accommodation directly with government, instead of through an organisation, but this means that the government with do the matching on their behalf.
People wanting to be sponsors who do not know anyone personally fleeing Ukraine can also record their interest with the government here. However, it will be the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) that will contact the sponsor about their interest and they’ll be paired with a refugee family if their application is successful.
Details for Refugees under the Sponsorship Scheme
- It’s free to apply and the immigration health surcharge or biometric enrolment is also free.
- The visa criteria is:
- The applicant must be Ukrainian, or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national (spouse, fiancé, partner of min 2 years, child (or parent of) under 18.
- The applicant must have been residing in Ukraine before 1 January 2022
- The applicant must currently be outside the UK
- The applicant must have a UK-based eligible sponsor
- If the applicant does not hold a valid (or expired with extension stamp) Ukrainian international passport, they will need to book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre (VAC) to give their biometric information (same applies If they only have a Ukrainian domestic passport or ID card).
- Children under the age of 5 who do not hold a valid Ukrainian international passport will also need to book and attend a VAC appointment and have a digital photograph taken.
- VACs in Ukraine are currently closed
- The applicant must provide documents to identify their UK-based sponsor. (For example a: passport, driving licence, national identity card, biometric residence permit)
- If possible, the individual should also provide any documents that show they were residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022.
- What happens next:
- the individual will receive an official permission letter from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Border Force will only accept their entry in the UK with this permission letter.
- On arrival Border Force will endorse their passport with a 6-month entry stamp. The 6-month entry stamp is evidence of their right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK.
- To extend their stay from 6 months to 3 years they will need to submit their biometrics within 6 months of arriving in the UK and be issued with a biometric residence permit (BRP) as evidence of their immigration status. The online form to provide biometric information will be available soon.
- the individual will be able to use this gov App to check and manage their immigration status UK Immigration: ID Check
- Checks will be carried out – the gov will also be doing checks on those arriving from Ukraine.
- Where someone wishes to rent privately, or when the sponsorship ends, the housing benefit element of Universal Credit will be available. Local authority can support refugees in finding alternative accommodation.
- Support – Local councils and other organisations are to offer support on things like access to benefits, registering with a GP, school placements and more
- Refugees will be entitled to a £200 interim payment to help with subsistence costs which will be provided by the local council.
- Refugees will be eligible for a single onward journey via national rail, light rail, bus and coach, free of charge to your destination anywhere in England, Scotland and Wales. They will only need to show their Ukrainian passport and boarding pass or ticket showing arrival into the country within the last 48 hours. https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ukr-travel.aspx
- Pets – The Animal and Plant Health Agency will provide quick approvals and relevant quarantine arrangements, for which the gov will cover the costs. Before arriving they or their carrier should contact the Agency at firstname.lastname@example.org or should call +44 3000 200 301 option 2
Details for Refugees under the Family Scheme
- UK-based family member must be one of the following:
- a British national
- someone settled in the UK – for example, they have indefinite leave to remain, settled status or proof of permanent residence
- someone from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland who has pre-settled status and started living in the UK before 1 January 2021
- someone with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK
- applicants must provide evidence that their UK-based family member is one of the following:
- an immediate family member
- an extended family member
- an immediate family member of an extended family member
- applicants will be asked to provide a copy of an official document that confirms their relationship to their UK-based family member. For example, a marriage or birth certificate. Please note applicants can still apply if they are unable to provide this document.
- An immediate family member is:
- spouse or civil partner (must have started before 1 January 2022)
- unmarried partner (must have been living together in a relationship for at least two years)
- child who is under 18
- parent (if under 18)
- fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner
- An extended family member is:
- parent (if over 18)
- child who is over 18
- grandchild or partner’s grandchild
- brother or sister
- aunt or uncle
- niece or nephew
- mother-in-law or father-in-law
- brother-in-law or sister-in-law
- An immediate family member of an extended family is the:
- spouse or civil partner of an extended family member
- child under 18 of an extended family member
- parent of a child under 18 who is an extended family member
- fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner of an extended family member
- Other family members will be considered where there are exceptional circumstances.
EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit
- applicants might also be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit if they are the family member of someone who is living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme who is from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
- please note applicants can not apply to both the Ukraine Family Scheme and the EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit.
- applicants must be outside of the UK to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit.
Details for Sponsors under the Sponsorship Scheme
- Named individuals only – In the future the gov will work to help organisations themselves sponsor individuals, but for now they are starting the first phase of the scheme with named individual contacts only.
- Not limited to UK residents – Individual sponsors in the UK can be of any nationality, with any immigration status, providing they have at least 6 months’ leave to remain in the UK, so that they can provide at least six months’ accommodation. They can live in any part of the UK.
- The type of accommodation offered can be: a spare room, or separate self-contained accommodation that is unoccupied and suitable for the number of people to be accommodated. A bed in a shared space would not be an appropriate offer.
- The sponsor doesn’t need to own the property but should check with the landlord, freeholder or mortgage provider, and insurance company, about whether they’ve got any policies which need to be factored in. Please refer to the Association of British Insurers’ statement for more details.
- Advice example: “If you are a homeowner in the UK and want to temporarily house refugees who have been displaced from the conflict in Ukraine as non-paying guests in your home, you do not need to inform your insurer and your cover will remain the same. This applies for the first 12 months of any refugees living with you, including when your policy is due for renewal. After 12 months, if any refugees are still living with you, then you should tell your insurer when you next renew your policy.”
- Checks will be carried out – To ensure a safe and suitable environment for people arriving from Ukraine the gov is going to be carrying out checks (background and in-person) on the sponsor, their family and the accommodation that they will provide. For example, the accommodation should be safe and free from health hazards, be heated and give the guests adequate access to bathroom and kitchen facilities. The gov will also conduct a Disclosure and Barring Service check on all adults in the household and an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check for those who are sponsoring a Ukrainian family which includes a child or a vulnerable adult.
- No rent should be charged. UK gov is offering an optional ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month to people who can accommodate one or more household. The ‘thank you’ payment is limited to one payment per residential address up to 12 months and made in arrears. This will not affect any council tax discounts.
- Other costs – The sponsor will not be expected to cover the costs of food, living expenses or travel expenses.
- If the sponsor doesn’t want to continue the arrangement beyond six months, they should let their guest know in plenty of time (for example, one month) so they can make other arrangements. If for any reason the sponsor needs to end the sponsorship arrangement early, they should inform their local council as soon as possible. Local council will then step in to help guests to find alternative accommodation.
- It’s recommended to set a few clear expectations between the sponsor and the guests and to draw up an agreement that sets a few ground rules, such as sharing use of common areas of the house, or concerning things like smoking, alcohol or noise.
- Scotland and Wales – In addition, the Scottish Government is directly sponsoring a number of Ukrainians themselves. Individuals will be able to apply through the usual form, but should choose the Scottish Government as their sponsor. The Welsh Government will also serve as a direct sponsor in the coming days.
Insurance advice from ABI
- The insurance and long-term savings industry supports homeowners providing assistance to those displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including under the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.
- Customers should be aware of any existing terms that might apply to non-paying guests within their insurance policy and contact their insurer if they wish to discuss their cover or other changes in circumstances. Some insurers have committed to extending cover to include refugees as members of a household.
- If homeowners wish to house refugees displaced from the conflict in Ukraine in their second homes, guest homes or rental properties, or for longer than 12 months at their primary residence, they should discuss this with their insurer in the first instance.
- Customers should visit the website of their insurer and, if necessary, contact them for further information.
- More details: https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/ukraine-crisis/
Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (Homes for Ukraine)
Ukraine Family Scheme visa
- https://www.gov.uk/family-permit (EU Settlement Scheme)
General info on Visas and Asylum
- https://apply.visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/ (application)
- https://pos.tlscontact.com/ (UK Visa Application Centres in Europe)