This article was updated on 11 March 2022 to reflect changes announced on 10 March 2022.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UK government has brought in some immigration concessions which apply to Ukrainian nationals leaving or trying to leave the country.
This includes Ukrainian nationals joining family members in the UK who either have British citizenship or who are settled in the UK, or those who wish to or may have previously made arrangements to come to the UK to work.
In a speech on 10 March, the Home Secretary Priti Patel has confirmed it will be made quicker and easier for those fleeing Ukraine to gain admittance and take up residence in the UK. They can apply for a UK entry visa online, without having to visit a Visa Application Centre.
However, these new rules will exclude anyone who left Ukraine without their passport, as many were forced to do, and also excludes Ukrainian residents who are not citizens of Ukraine – these people will still have to go to a Visa Application Centre (e.g. in Lviv, or in a nearby country such as Poland, Romania, Hungary or Moldova) in person to apply to come to the UK before they can be issued with an entry visa for admission to the UK.
Importantly, these changes apply only to those looking to access the Ukraine family scheme – those hoping to join friends or more distant relatives in the UK, or who are sponsored workers coming to work in the UK, are not eligible.
We outline the current immigration routes available to Ukrainian nationals who wish to enter the UK and concessions granted to Ukrainian nationals currently in the UK whose visas are due to expire imminently.
Ukrainian family members of British citizens and those coming to work in the UK
Ukrainian nationals who wish to join family members of British citizens or those settled in the UK can apply for a family migration visa, and there is no charge for doing so. Note however, that the family member must be:
Those applying under the family route will no longer have to provide biometric details (fingerprint scans & photos) before they are able to travel here.
From 15 March, those fleeing Ukraine will no longer have to visit a Visa Application Centre, allowing them to complete biometric details in the UK after they arrive – the Home Office believes this will ease the pressure on overstretched facilities in Poland, Hungary and elsewhere in Europe.
People coming to the UK to work and who may have had pre-existing arrangements, can still make their visa applications.
Ukrainians in the UK
The UK Government has published some temporary concessions to support Ukrainian nationals currently in the UK who are now unable to leave the UK when their existing immigration permission expires.
These concessions enable Ukrainian nationals to extend their stay in the UK without having to leave and re-apply from overseas. Hence, Ukrainian nationals who are in the UK should be able to extend their immigration permission or switch to another visa category from inside the UK, even in situations where they would normally be required to return overseas to submit the application.
As the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, the UK Government will likely announce even further measures to assist Ukrainian nationals looking to leave Ukraine and those who are unable to leave the UK.
We are currently advising a number of Ukrainian nationals and employers of Ukrainian nationals and assisting with their immigration situation, so please do get in touch if you need help or have a query, either as an employer, employee, family member or on any other basis.
The concessions and arrangements are set out here: UK visa support for Ukrainian nationals – GOV.UK
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