This factsheet is no longer being updated. Please read Home Office visa support for Ukrainians factsheet for the latest information.
- Russia’s assault on Ukraine is an unprovoked, premeditated attack against a sovereign democratic state. President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction. The Russian government has shown that it was never serious about engaging in diplomacy – focussed only on deceit and furthering their territorial ambitions.
- The UK, together with our partners and allies, are responding and will hold the Russian government to account. We stand with Ukraine in this moment of agony and will always defend the Ukrainian people’s right to choose their own destiny.
- The Home Office has made a number of changes to the immigration system, to support British nationals and their families in Ukraine, and Ukrainians in the UK, Ukraine and elsewhere, including launching the Ukraine Family Scheme.
SUPPORT TO BRITISH NATIONALS AND DEPENDANTS IN UKRAINE
- The Home Office priority remains supporting British nationals who are resident in Ukraine and their families who want to leave Ukraine. We are working around the clock and at pace to process visa applications from this group as quickly as possible.
- The Home Secretary has ordered a package of measures to support British nationals who are resident in Ukraine and their families in Ukraine. This included:
- Temporarily waiving application fees for those eligible under the Family Migration route;
- Allowing entry for 12 months for others who did not meet the requirements; and
- Fast-tracking visas through a 24/7 helpline.
- Her Majesty’s Passport Office is prioritising British nationals in Ukraine who need a passport and working with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to ensure those who need emergency travel documents receive them quickly.
- The Home Office remains in direct contact with individuals regarding their cases.
- Further advice can be found at: Support for family members of British nationals in Ukraine, and Ukrainian nationals in Ukraine and the UK - GOV.UK.
SUPPORT TO UKRAINIANS IN THE UK
- Ukrainians who are on work, study or visit visas in the UK will be able to switch onto different visa routes, and seasonal workers will have their leave extended.
- Changes announced for Ukrainian nationals in the UK include:
- Ukrainian nationals on an existing points-based system route can extend their leave in the UK
- Ukrainian nationals on an existing visitor visa can exceptionally switch into a points-based system migration route without having to leave the UK
- Ukrainian nationals on an existing visitor visa can apply under the family route for further leave without meeting the immigration status requirement, provided they meet the requirements for leave based on exceptional circumstances
- Ukrainian nationals on an existing seasonal worker visa will have their leave in the UK extended to 31 December 2022
- Ukrainian nationals in temporary HGV/pork butcher jobs will have their leave in the UK extended to 31 December 2022 and those in pork butcher roles will also be allowed to apply to the skilled worker route.
- The UK’s flexible and agile visa system allows these proportional changes to be implemented quickly while ensuring appropriate security checks remain in place.
- These concessions are available for people with valid visas in the UK. (For those not eligible for these concessions, our immigration system remains open for applications via safe and legal routes. For more information on safe and legal routes: How does the UK help refugees through safe and legal routes? - Home Office in the media.
- All visa routes remain under constant review, and any changes to the visa policy will not compromise border security.
VISA APPLICATION CENTRES
- The UK stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Ukraine and we have taken urgent action to process visas at speed for all those eligible to the Ukraine Family Scheme, while carrying out vital security checks. We have protected appointments at all of our visa application centres to ensure there is sufficient capacity and deployed extra staff to help people through the process as quickly as possible.
- There is currently sufficient capacity at all of the VACs and we are protecting appointments for Ukrainians to ensure they can get through the process as quickly as possible.
- To process visa applications as quickly as possible, we’re surging staff across all application centres in border countries, such as Poland, as well as all EU countries, where we are providing advice and supporting people through the process as fast as we can.
- This is alongside extra caseworkers being trained up, to bolster resource even further.
- As well as our 24/7 helpline bolstered with 100 new staff we are surging staff to our application centres across the EU to help speed this up further, with the number of appointments increased by ten times on last week (600 to 6,000).
- Capacity in VACs has been extended in Poland (Warsaw), Moldova (Chisinau), Romania (Bucharest) and Hungary (Budapest). In addition, a pop-up VAC is being set up in Rzeszow (Poland) which is now operational for dependants of British nationals.
VISA APPLICATION CENTRES IN FRANCE
- In light of the risk from criminals actively operating in the area around Calais, we have set up a new temporary Visa Application Centre in Lille which will open on 10 March focused on referrals only for people in the area eligible for the Ukraine Family Scheme.
- The site has been chosen in order to best support those people already in Northern France looking to apply to come to the UK through our routes.
- Government has been working closely with French counterparts to ensure people are not prolonging or complicating their journeys by going to ports like Calais where there is no permanent visa operation, and this site will provide a hub in the region to support people through the visa application process.
- As Minister Foster said in the House ‘It is essential that we do not create a choke point at places like Calais, where dangerous people smugglers are present, and ensure the smooth flow of people through the system from across Europe.’
- This site will be solely focused on helping to process visa applications for Ukrainians coming to the UK and will be by referral by Border Force only to help manage this.
- We are providing free transport to Lille from Calais for anyone who did not arrive by car or who is otherwise unable to travel independently.
- If you are an immediate family member of a British national normally living in Ukraine with your British national family member, you should call the dedicated Home Office line +44 (0)808 164 8810 - select option 1. This option is now available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
- If you are a Ukrainian national in the UK and need assistance, please contact UKVI on +44 (0)808 164 8810 – select option 2. Lines are open Monday to Thursday (excluding bank holidays), 9am to 4:45pm and Friday (excluding bank holidays), 9am to 4:30pm. This is a free phone number, but network charges may still apply.
- Further advice can be found at: Support for family members of British nationals in Ukraine, and Ukrainian nationals in Ukraine and the UK - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
SAFE & LEGAL ROUTES
There are multiple safe and legal routes available for Ukrainians who are not dependants of British nationals, who wish to travel to the UK.
- The Ukraine Family Scheme allows immediate and extended family members of British nationals and people settled in the UK to come to the country. Those joining the Scheme will be granted leave for three years, giving them certainty and ensuring their future in the country. The Scheme is free, and does not include any salary or language requirements. Guidance for family members of British nationals, UK settled persons and certain others to make an application to the Ukraine Family Scheme can be found here: Apply for a Ukraine Family Scheme visa - GOV.UK
- We’ve already waived some of the normal requirements under this scheme, in order to help people forced to flee be reunited with their families in the UK as quickly as possible.
- Security and biometrics checks are a fundamental part of our visa process in order to keep people in this country safe, and this is consistent with our approach to the evacuation of Afghanistan.
- That is vital both to keep British citizens safe, but also to ensure that we are helping those in genuine need – as the Minister set out yesterday, we are already seeing people presenting false documents claiming to be Ukrainians.
- A new sponsored humanitarian visa route will be established to allow communities, private sponsors or local authorities to sponsor people to come the UK from Ukraine for an initial 12 months. There will be no limit on this scheme, and the UK will welcome as many Ukrainians as wish to come and for whom there are sponsors.
- The Home Office also has several safe and legal routes under the points-based system which could be used by Ukrainians to reach the UK, if they reach a neighbouring country. Ukrainians can get visas to work and study in the UK through the points-based immigration system, such as via the skilled worker route, graduate route, health and care visa or student route.
- While visa services in Ukraine have been suspended for everyone apart from dependants of British nationals following the Russian invasion, Ukrainians can make applications from neighbouring countries and use the Visa Application Centres in neighbouring countries, where it is safe for them to make the journey.
- Ukrainians have visa-free access to Schengen states, which enables them to reach safe neighbouring countries from which they can make their applications.
- Every conflict and threat situation is unique and requires a tailored response, and measures will continue to keep pace with the developing situation on the ground.
The Government has a proud history of supporting people in need, and that is not about to change.
- The UK has a proud history of providing protection to the most vulnerable people:
- Since 2015, more than 27,000 vulnerable people, including children, seeking refuge from cruel circumstances across the world have been resettled in the UK – more than any other European country.
- The government made one of the largest commitments of any country to resettle at-risk Afghan citizens, and we are delivering on that commitment. We undertook the biggest and fastest emergency evacuation in recent history, helping over 15,000 people at risk to safety in the UK, including thousands of women and girls.
- The government launched the Hong Kong BN(O) route, which has been a great success and honours our commitment to those with ties to the UK, and their families. Over 97,000 people have been granted visas through the route so far.
- For more information on safe and legal routes: How does the UK help refugees through safe and legal routes? - Home Office in the media.
- The situation in Ukraine remains fluid, and the threat picture is changing rapidly.
- Immigration issues cannot be tackled by one country alone, and it takes an international effort. The UK Government is engaged in dialogue with a range of international partners to ensure that any solution to migration issues are practical and in the best interest of Ukrainian people.
- No immigration system in the world can support every single vulnerable person in need. That is why it is so important that this shared challenge be tackled through international cooperation.
- Security and biometrics checks as part of visa applications will continue. These are a fundamental part of our visa approval process worldwide, and vital to keep British citizens safe and to ensure that we help those in genuine need.
- To support Ukraine and help them prepare for this incursion, the UK Government have:
- Trained 22,000 Ukrainian soldiers
- Supplied 2,000 anti-tank missiles
- Provided £100 million for economic reform and energy independence
- We have announced we will also guarantee up to $500 million of Development Bank financing.
- Expert Home Office staff have travelled to Poland to provide advice to refugees including processing visas and ensuring a rapid visa service to help with the flow of people coming over the Ukrainian border.
- The Nationality and Borders Bill is currently at Report Stage in the House of Lords. The Bill contains provisions to allow visa penalties to be applied to specific countries that don’t co-operate with the return of their nationals. The Home Secretary is seeking an amendment extend those provisions so that a country can be specified if it has taken significant steps which threaten international security, lead to armed conflict, or breach international humanitarian law. This extension would draw on precedent from the Sanctions and Money Laundering Act 2018. These powers would be available as soon as the Bill received Royal Assent.