The Ukraine to UK Immigration Concessions
On the 1 March 2022, the Home Secretary announced UK government immigration concessions to help Ukrainian citizens fleeing Ukraine and to assist Ukrainian nationals already in the UK but concerned about their visa status. In this article our immigration solicitors summarise the concessions and developments.
UK Online and London Immigration Solicitors
Immigration concessions at the 1 March 2022
The information contained in this article is based on information released on the 1 March 2022. The Home Office is responding to the situation in Ukraine, and the deepening refugee crisis, on a daily basis. Please check for latest developments.
UK immigration concessions for Ukrainian nationals wanting to come to the UK
Ukrainian nationals need a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK. The Home Office announcements are intended to make getting a visa easier. The concessions relate to Ukrainian nationals or anyone who usually lives in Ukraine.
The immigration concessions are to the usual immigration rules on family visas.
The first concession is that the Home Office is waiving its immigration fees for people applying for family visas using these Ukraine concessions.
An application can be made for a family visa if an applicant has a family member who is a British citizen or who is settled in the UK ( has settled status or indefinite leave to remain) and the applicant wants to come to the UK.
The family member has to act as the visa applicant’s sponsor and they need to be related to the applicant as their:
- Husband, wife or civil partner or
- Unmarried partner (if the applicant has been in a cohabiting relationship for at least two years) or
- Parent (if the applicant is under eighteen) or
- Child under the age of eighteen or
- Carer of an adult dependant relative who meets the criteria for an adult dependent relative visa.
The Home Office has said it will make visa decisions within twenty-four hours of a visa applicant attending a biometrics appointment. The biometrics appointment can take place outside of Ukraine.
The usual family visa immigration rules can be set aside
Applicants from Ukraine should not be put off from making an application because they do not think they will meet the usual eligibility criteria for a family visa. For example, an applicant may be concerned that they don’t meet the English language requirement because they have not passed an English language test or that their UK based sponsor does not meet the spouse visa financial requirement.
The Home Secretary has said special rules apply for those eligible for these concessions but who do not meet strict family visa eligibility criteria provided that the applicant passes a security check.
If the security check is passed, but not all the standard eligibility criteria are met, then the Home Office has been told to give UK entry clearance to enter the UK ‘outside the usual immigration rules’ for a period of up to twelve months. This is a shorter period than a standard family visa but immigration solicitors say if an applicant is eligible for the concessions the important thing is to secure entry clearance and once in the UK the applicant can sort out what happens after twelve months. For example, the Home Office may make further concessions or, once an applicant is in the UK, the applicant may be able to sit the English language test or meet the financial requirement to secure a family visa.
The Ukrainian family scheme
Some family members will not qualify for a family visa or an adult dependent relative visa. For example, a Ukrainian brother or sister of a British citizen or person with settled status in the UK, will not meet the adult dependent relative visa eligibility criteria unless they are disabled and need care from a family sponsor. As some family members don’t fit into current family visa rules, the Home Office has announced a Ukraine Family Scheme for extended family.
The family scheme is intended to help extended family members of British nationals and people settled in the UK including:
- Adult children
An extended family member of a British citizen or settled person will be able to bring their own immediate family with them to the UK. Immediate family includes a husband, wife or civil partner or unmarried partner ( if the couple have been in a cohabiting relationship for at least two years), parent (if the applicant is under the age of eighteen) or their child (if the child is under the age of eighteen) or an adult relative that the applicant lives with and cares for.
If an applicant meets the eligibility criteria for entry clearance, they will get leave to enter for twelve months and, whilst in the UK, they will be able to work (without needing a work visa or sponsoring employer) and be able to claim public funds.
If an applicant is applying for special leave under the Ukraine concessions, or is pursuing a work visa or other type of visa, the applicant probably will not be able to get all the right paperwork together. The Home Office acknowledges this and says an explanation should be given as to why documents are not available.
If , for whatever reason, the special concessions do not help an applicant then another option is to apply for a temporary visitor visa. The visitor visa only lasts for up to six months. A visitor visa holder cannot work whilst in the UK (other than carrying out permissible business activities). Therefore, in most cases, using the special immigration rules concessions is the best option.
Ukrainians in the UK on visitor visas
Normally, if a Ukrainian national is in the UK on a temporary visitor visa, the visa holder can't stay in the UK beyond six months and cannot switch visa. Special concessions have been made for Ukrainian nationals in the UK on a visitor visa so they can apply for a work visa or family from within the UK.
Ukrainians in the UK needing a visa extension
If a Ukrainian national has a visa that is due to expire, the best advice is to sort out the visa extension. If the applicant does not meet the visa extension criteria, then an exceptional assurance request should be made to the Home Office. This regulates the immigration position on a temporary basis, but it is not a visa.
Ukrainian asylum claims
At the moment the UK government has not revised its asylum policy but as the situation continues to develop in Ukraine there is the strong possibility that this will be the next development.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors