Ukrainian VISAs

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an unprovoked and anti-democratic act of aggression and I am appalled by the conduct of Putin’s expansionist regime. We all agree that more needs to be done to help refugees escaping war. This situation needs to be urgently addressed, so that those who are fleeing for their lives can find safety and security here in the United Kingdom.

The situation is developing quickly, and so the UK Government is evolving its plans to adapt.  The Home Secretary has announced that from 15 March,Ukrainian nationals with passports will be able to submit their UK VISA applications and have these approved entirely online, without having to attend VISA application centres in Europe. This will make it easier for these individuals to come to the UK and will allow the home office teams in Europe to focus on helping Ukrainian nationals who do not have passports.

This announcement follows the creation of a new expansive Ukrainian Family Scheme which will enable British nationals and Ukrainians already settled in the UK to bring a wider group of family members to the country, extending eligibility to parents, grandparents, adult offspring and siblings. This offer broadens the original package beyond immediate family members which formed part of the first phase of the UK Government’s humanitarian response. Those joining family in the UK will be granted leave for an initial period of 12 months and will be able to work and access public funds.

Furthermore, the UK Government is establishing a humanitarian sponsorship pathway, which will open up a route to the UK for Ukrainians who may not have family ties with the UK but who are able to match with individuals, charities, businesses, and community groups. Those who come under this scheme will also be granted leave for an initial period of 12 months and will be able to work and access public services. Once this scheme is in place it will allow for the rapid increase in the number of Ukrainians able to enter the UK.

On top of this, the UK Government has committed a £220 million humanitarian aid package to Ukraine to help aid agencies respond to the deteriorating situation, creating a lifeline for Ukrainians with access to basic necessities and medical supplies. This makes the UK one of the largest donors of bilateral aid to Ukraine.

Ministers have assured me that they continue to keep the UK Government’s handling of the situation under review as it develops. I will continue to urge the UK Government to streamline this process so that we can offer safety and security to Ukrainian refugees as soon as possible.