10 March, 2022
Our Business Immigration team have prepared the below practical guidance for applicants to the scheme and for businesses to share with their employees who may be impacted. We have also launched a free advice service to any applicants under the scheme, please contact us for details.
Ukrainian nationals who are family members (including extended family members) of British nationals, UK settled persons and certain others to come or to stay in the UK can apply to come or to stay in the UK. It is also possible for other nationalities to apply if this would prevent a family from being separated.
Ukrainian nationals currently residing outside of the UK, will need to apply under the Ukraine Family Scheme Visa, which if approved will allow them to stay in the UK for up to 3 years if approved. This will allow them to live, work and study in the UK and also access public funds.
The Government has been questioned over the limited scope for applications, the practicalities of application and the current figures provided by Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps of only around 750 visas having been granted. Mr Shapps has however confirmed that 22,000 applications are "on their way through".
There appears to be confusion over the process, with reports of refugees stranded at Calais waiting to travel to join their families in the UK and long delays and queues at visa application centres for appointments.
What are the practical difficulties of the visa application process that may be currently contributing to these arguably low numbers?
Firstly, the Ukrainian nationals who are currently residing outside of the UK need to be able to access the internet in order to apply online through the government website and book a follow up physical appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC).
Given the situation on the ground in Ukraine, internet may not be as accessible. For those who have fled the country, they may not be able to access a device such as a computer or a smartphone device or have access to the internet to fill out the online application form. The availability of appointments is limited and some VACs do not have appointments for several days/weeks.
Secondly, there are also issues in accessing a VAC within Ukraine itself in order to process the Ukrainian Family Scheme Visas, as the VAC in the centre of Kyiv is currently closed and all UK services in Kyiv are suspended. However, the Ukrainian national can apply at a VAC in any country, but only if it safe to travel.
There are currently temporary VAC Centres in Rzeszow, Poland and one is being set up on Lille, France to deal exclusively with Ukraine Family Visa applications. There are also centres in Budapest in Hungary, Chisinau in Moldova, Warsaw in Poland, Bucharest in Romania or Paris in France.
Finally, in support of the application documentary evidence is required or an explanation of why this is not available. For those fleeing the conflict and for extended family members this can be a real challenge to obtain.
We have produced a detailed information sheet providing clear guidance on eligibility and the process. If you would like a copy or free advice on the application process please contact email@example.com.
Learn more about our Business Immigration department here