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Ukraine: the UK Government’s Immigration Response

Mayer Brown
25/02/2022
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Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK Government has published details of how it is assisting Ukrainian nationals who find themselves in challenging UK immigration scenarios.

We set out below a summary of the current guidance which we will look to update on a regular basis.  The full guidance can be found here:

Support for family members of British nationals in Ukraine, and Ukrainian nationals in Ukraine and the UK – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Ukrainian nationals in Ukraine

Family members of British citizens

Ukrainian nationals who are family members of British citizens who usually live in Ukraine may apply for a family migration visa for free. The British citizen family member must be:

  • a spouse or civil partner;
  • an unmarried partner (the Ukrainian national and British citizen must have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage for at least 2 years);
  • the Ukrainian national’s parent if the Ukrainian national is under the age of 18;
  • the Ukrainian’s national’s child under the age of 18;
  • an adult relative the Ukrainian national provides care for who lives with the Ukrainian national due to a medical condition.

Since the UK Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Kyiv is now closed, applicants in Ukraine must enrol their biometrics at the VAC pop up in Lviv.

The UK Government aims to process these applications within 24 hours from the date the biometrics are enrolled at the VAC.

Alternatively, if the Ukrainian national is able to safely leave Ukraine, they can apply through a VAC in a nearby country, including:

  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Hungary
  • Moldova

Other visa applications

Unfortunately, Ukrainian nationals are currently unable to make visa applications to visit, work, study or join family in the UK through a VAC in Ukraine.

If they able to safely travel, they can apply through a VAC in one of the nearby countries.

Leaving Ukraine

Unfortunately, there are currently a number of practical and legal difficulties in leaving Ukraine.  All commercial flights have been suspended so it is only possible to leave Ukraine via one of its land borders with Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia or Poland.  In addition, following the declaration of martial law by the Ukrainian Government, all male citizens aged between 18 and 60 have been banned from leaving the country.

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 return when their existing immigration permission expires. These concessions will assist Ukrainian nationals in extending their stay in the UK without having to leave and re-apply from overseas.

This means that Ukrainian nationals who are in the UK may be able to extend their immigration permission or switch to another category even in situations where they would normally be required to return overseas to submit the application.

Conclusion

As the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, it is hoped that the UK Government will announce further measures to assist Ukrainian nationals looking to leave Ukraine and those who are unable to leave the UK.  Our Global Mobility team is currently helping a number of Ukrainian nationals with their immigration situation, so please do get in contact if you require assistance.

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