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Legal insights & industry updates

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Visa concessions announced for Ukrainians

In response to the invasion of Ukraine, the Home Office yesterday announced temporary visa measures for Ukrainian nationals. The concession will waive some of the visa requirements which would normally apply to in-country applications, making it easier for Ukrainians to apply to remain in the UK. The scope of the concession is similar to that offered previously to Syrian nationals. 

The concession applies to those Ukrainians currently in the UK with valid visas and will enable them to temporarily extend their current visas or switch to a different visa route from within the UK, where they would normally be expected to apply from overseas. This includes: 

  • Ukrainian nationals on an existing points-based system route can extend their leave in the UK

  • Ukrainian nationals on an existing visitor visa can exceptionally switch into a points-based system immigration route without having to leave the UK

  • Ukrainian nationals on an existing visitor visa can apply under the family route for further leave without meeting the immigration status requirement, provided they meet the requirements for leave based on exceptional circumstances

  • Ukrainian nationals on an existing seasonal worker visa will have their leave in the UK extended to 31 December 2022

  • Ukrainian nationals in temporary HGV/pork butcher jobs will have their leave in the UK extended to 31 December 2022 and will also be allowed to apply to the skilled worker route

In addition to the above measures, UK Visas and Immigration is also currently offering free family visas to non-British family members of British nationals who normally live in Ukraine, with a targeted turnaround time of 24 hours. There are practical difficulties however given the closure of the visa application centre in Kyiv, with applicants needing to travel to Lviv or to neighbouring countries to apply. 

Whilst these changes are welcome, there is more that could be done. Other European countries, such as Ireland, have waived visa requirements for Ukrainian nationals fleeing their country, providing a safe and legal route for refugees and the UK could do the same.  

Building on immediate support provided in recent weeks to assist British Nationals to leave Ukraine, the Home Secretary has today confirmed that Ukrainians who are on work, study or visit visas in the UK will have their visas temporarily extended or be able to switch onto different visa routes.