On 28th February 2022 the Home Secretary, The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, made a statement to Parliament on measures the Home Office has taken since the invasion of Ukraine.
Home Office Measures
The Home Secretary explained that:
- The Government had supported hundreds of British nationals and their families resident in Ukraine to leave— UK Visas and Immigration staff continue to work around the clock to assist them
- The Home Office had enabled dependants of British nationals resident in Ukraine who need a UK visa, to apply through the temporary location in Lviv or through visa application centres in Poland, Moldova, Romania, and Hungary
- A new initiative aims to allow Ukraine passport holders to avoid the need to attend a visa application centre and instead make their application fully online and only provide biometrics (fingerprints and photo) once they are in the UK
- Teams have over recent weeks been surged to these areas and applications have been completed within hours
- Where family members of British nationals do not meet the usual eligibility criteria – but pass security checks – UK Visas and Immigration will give them permission to enter the UK outside the rules for 12 months and is prioritising all applications
- The government is giving British nationals and any person settled in the UK the ability to bring over their immediate Ukrainian family members. It is estimated that an additional 100,000 Ukrainians will be able to come to the UK with access to work and public services
- The Home Office is allowing Ukrainian nationals already in the UK the ability to switch, free of charge, into a points-based immigration route or a family visa route
- Visas for Ukrainian temporary workers in some sectors are being extended so that they can now stay until at least December 2022, primarily because people cannot return to Ukraine
- Anyone in Ukraine intending to apply under the family migration route should call the dedicated 24-hour Home Office helpline for assistance before making an application.
Visa Extensions for Ukrainian Nationals in the UK
As referenced in the Home Secretary’s statement, the UK Home Office has issued new temporary guidance for Ukrainian nationals currently present in the UK who would not normally be eligible to extend their visa but cannot return to Ukraine. Concessions have been put in place to allow for this.
Visitor visa holders
Ukrainian visitors in the UK who cannot return to Ukraine can now apply to switch from their visitor visa to a different points-based route or a family visa route. This is a temporary change to the usual rules, which would ordinarily not allow visitors to switch into a different visa category.
Seasonal workers who cannot return to Ukraine, can extend their visa to 31 December 2022, provided they continue working for the same sponsor (scheme operator) in a job permitted by the Seasonal Worker route. The Home Office advises that UK Visas and Immigration will liaise with the sponsor for the extension, and applicants will be notified by the Home Office if this concession is applicable.
HGV drivers and pork butchers will be afforded the same concessions as seasonal workers, but pork butchers may also be eligible for the skilled worker route, which allows leave to remain for five years and can lead to UK indefinite leave to remain.
3CS is here to help
We support a wide variety of businesses, of all different sizes and sectors, with all of their immigration requirements. From assisting in obtaining a Sponsor Licence to employ migrant workers, to ongoing support with the Home Office’s compliance obligations, to making routine and complex visa applications, we have a wealth of experience in this area. If you need immigration help or advice, please get in touch.