The information on this page was collected from public resources and does not constitute legal advice.

General information on border crossing.

The UK government has introduced three special schemes for Ukrainians who wish to enter the UK:

  • Ukraine Family Scheme (if you have family in the UK);
  • Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme/Homes for Ukraine (if you do not have family in the UK);
  • Ukraine Extension Scheme (if you are already in the UK on a visa).

Further details of these schemes are set out below. Note that you must obtain a UK visa before travelling to the UK. Permission to enter the UK cannot be requested at the border or at a UK border control point in France or Belgium.

If you are not already in the UK

1. Ukraine Family Scheme

Under this scheme, any British person or immigrant who is settled in the UK is able to sponsor Ukrainian family members to come to the UK. Under this scheme, you will be able to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds for an initial 6 months that can be extended to 3 years. Application is free of charge.

A high level overview of this scheme is set out below. Alternatively, you can call the free 24/7 helpline on 0808 164 8810 for help with any questions about the scheme.

2. Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme / Homes for Ukraine

The Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the UK if they have a named sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. As an applicant approved under this scheme, you will be able to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds for an initial 6 months, which can be extended to 3 years. Application is free of charge.

If you don't already know someone who is willing to sponsor you, there are some people in the UK who are willing to sponsor strangers. You might be able to find a sponsor by giving your details to a charity like Room for Refugees or Reset Communities and Refugees which are running "matching" services.

3. Other visas

You can make an application to visit, work, study or join family in the UK in the ordinary way if you don't qualify for either of the above two schemes.

If you are already in the UK

1. Ukrainian Extension Scheme

You can apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme if you are Ukrainian, or the family member of someone Ukrainian. You can apply if you had permission to stay in the UK on or before 18 March 2022 or if you have permission to stay that expired on or after 1 January 2022. As an applicant approved under this scheme, you will be able to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds for up to 3 years. Application is free of charge.

A high level overview of this scheme is set out below. Alternatively, you can call the free 24/7 helpline on 0808 164 8810 for help with any questions about the scheme.

To apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme you must:

  • be Ukrainian or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national who is applying to the scheme; and
  • have had permission to be in the UK (for example a visa) on 18 March 2022.

If you previously had permission to stay in the UK but it expired on or after 1 January 2022 you're also eligible to apply.

2. Visitor visas

If you are a Ukrainian citizen in the UK on a visitor visa, you are currently allowed to switch onto a Skilled Worker or family visa without having to leave the UK. You will need to meet the requirements of the relevant route and pay the associated fees. Click for further details on family visas and Skilled Worker visas.

3. Skilled Worker visas

If you are a Ukrainian citizen with a Skilled Worker visa that is due to expire, you can apply to extend your leave or settle in the UK as normal and can benefit from a document flexibility concession. Full details can be found in theโ€ฏSkilled Worker visa guidance.

4. Student visas

If you are a Ukrainian citizen who is in the UK on a student visa, you can apply to extend your immigration permission or switch to a Graduate visa if you meet the Immigration Rules. Full details can be found in theโ€ฏStudent visa guidance.

5. Seasonal Worker visas

If you are a Ukrainian citizen who is currently in the UK on a Seasonal Worker visa, you can extend your visa until 31 December 2022. You must continue working in a job permitted by the Seasonal Worker route, with the same Scheme Operator (sponsor). Pork butchers can alternatively apply under the Skilled Worker route if your employer is willing to sponsor you and you otherwise meet the Immigration Rules for the route.

6. HGV Driver visas

A Ukrainian citizen who is currently in the UK as a HGV driver can extend their visa until 31 December 2022. They must continue to work in their current occupation with the same sponsor.

What documents do I need to enter?

If you have a valid Ukrainian international passport (or an expired passport with an official extension stamp from the Ukrainian government) you can apply online.

If you do not hold a valid Ukrainian international passport (for example, if you only have a Ukrainian domestic passport or ID card) you must first book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre ("VAC") and provide biometric information (your fingerprints and a photograph).

During the application process under Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme / Homes for Ukraine, you will also be asked to provide evidence showing the identity of your UK-based sponsor.

How can I get from the border to the capital (a certain town)?

Most UK public transport operators, including National Rail, are offering free onward travel by train, bus, coach or light rail from the major airport or port you arrive at. The offer is valid within 48 hours of arriving in the UK. You will also be able to travel free across London using London Underground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and London bus and tram services so you can reach your destination as quickly as possible. To make use of this scheme, you will need to show your Ukrainian passport and a boarding pass or ticket showing your arrival into the UK.

You can get free train or bus travel in Northern Ireland mceclip0.png within 7 days of arriving. You will need to show your Ukrainian passport and evidence of entry into Northern Ireland, such as an airline boarding card, ferry ticket or a booking email from an airline/ferry company, dated within the previous 7 days.

How long can I stay?

The length of time you are able to stay in the UK will depend on the type of visa you have, and whether or not you have provided your biometric information.

The Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine scheme are intended to provide you a safe space in the UK for at least six months. Under these schemes, your stay can be extended up to a maximum of 3 years during which you will have the right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK.

Depending on the type of your entrance document, you will have to either collect the Biometric Residence Permit (within 10 days of arriving or by the expiry date on your visa, whichever is later) or apply to obtain the Biometric Residence Permit (within 6 months of arriving) in order to extend the right to stay in the UK for up to 3 years.

Where can an unaccompanied minor get help?

If you are a minor travelling alone, the first thing you should do is try to contact your local council. The local council website should have contact information including a telephone number. If you need help, you can travel to your nearest police station and seek the help of a police officer.

There are also several Non-Governmental Organisations who provide aid specifically for children, including Asylum Aid; Refugee Legal Centre; Barnardo's; British Red Cross; and Save the Children, a number of which have helplines you can contact for further information:

  • Barnardo's: You can call the free helpline on 0800 148 8586 (open Monday โ€“ Friday 10.00 am - 8.00 pm, and Saturday 10.00 am - 3.00 pm.
  • Refugee Legal Centre: You can call the advice telephone line on 020 7780 3220.
  • The British Red Cross: You can call the free British Red Cross support line on 0808 196 3651 (open between 10 am - 6 pm daily).

If the authorities are unable to trace a suitable family member or guardian to care for you, the local authority will transfer you into its care. This will normally mean being placed in foster care or, for older children, supported lodgings accommodation, which is arranged by the local council.

Are there any Covid-related requirements and if yes, what are they?

There are no Covid-related requirements for entering the UK. It is however advisable to bring your health documentation with you where possible.

Please note that Covid-related requirements may apply in other countries that you pass through on your way to the UK.

Where do I register for temporary protection?

On arrival in the UK, you should present your official permission letter to Border Force who will endorse your passport with a six-month entry stamp that evidences your right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK.

The stamp you receive in your passport by Border Force on entry into the UK provides evidence of your right to stay in the UK but is valid for the first six months only. To extend your stay for up to the three years, you will need to apply for a Biometric Residence Permit within 6 month of arrival to the UK. This will require you to provide biometric information, including a photograph of your face and a sample of your fingerprints. You can apply for a Biometric Residence Permit once you have arrived in the UK by completing the relevant online form, available here mceclip0.png.

Alternatively, if you have already provided the biometric data, your permission letter will tell you if you need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit and where to get it.

What are my rights while I wait to get temporary protection?

Once you arrive to the UK under one of the Ukraine Schemes, you are granted the right to live, work and study in the UK or claim any other benefits youโ€™re eligible for. If you do not to obtain the Biometric Residence Permit within 6 months of arriving to extend the right to stay in the UK for up to 3 years, you will lose your right to live and work in the UK and any benefit payments you are receiving will stop.

What documents will I receive once I get temporary protection?

Once you have provided the biometric information, you will be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit. This permit is evidence of your legal status in the UK and shows how long you may stay in the UK. It is also a useful means by which you can confirm your identity for purposes such as opening a UK bank account. If you travel outside the UK, you will need to take your Biometric Residence Permit with you to allow smooth entry back into the UK following your travel.

Can I move around the country and the European Union freely while under temporary protection?

If you travel outside of the UK, you should make sure that you carry your Biometric Residence Permit with you.

Can I apply for asylum while under temporary protection? What is the difference?

Ukrainian citizens can apply for asylum in the UK via the regular asylum process. It is not possible to claim asylum outside the UK, including at ports in Europe. There is also no 'asylum seeker visa' which allows people to enter the UK for the purpose of claiming asylum.

Note that it is not necessary to apply for asylum in order to stay in the UK for up to three years under one of the special Ukraine Schemes outlined above.

As a Ukrainian fleeing war, you may be entitled to claim asylum in order to obtain refugee status and/or humanitarian protection, giving you indefinite leave to remain in the UK. However, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice before applying for asylum as it may affect your existing rights. It is also not necessary to apply for asylum in order to stay in the UK for up to three years under one of the special Ukraine schemes. You can visit Citizens Advice for more guidance on the UK asylum process.

In general, in order to be eligible for asylum, you must have left your country and be unable to go back because you fear persecution or are at general risk of serious harm.ย 

In order to claim asylum, you must register and have a screening at an asylum intake unit if you're in the UK and want to claim asylum. The Home Office usually expects people to claim asylum immediately on entry to the UK. If you didn't claim asylum as soon as you came to the UK, you will need to explain why you didn't claim asylum immediately, and provide evidence of this where possible.

You should call the asylum intake unit appointments line to make an appointment on 0300 123 4193 (Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4:45pm and Friday, 9am to 4:30pm).

Your application will usually be decided within 6 months. If successful, an applicant is granted refugee status or humanitarian protection.

It can also be helpful to seek advice from an asylum specialist before applying for asylum. There are restrictions imposed on all asylum seekers (i.e. possible detainment) and limited funds available to the applicant once an application for asylum is made. You will likely not be permitted to work in the UK while the claim is pending.

How long I need to wait to get the residency?

As explained above, the timeframe depends on your circumstances and the relevant basis to obtain the indefinite leave to remain.

What if I don't have the international passport?

You will need to book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre (VAC) if you:

  1. do not hold a valid Ukrainian international passport; or
  2. have a Ukrainian domestic passport or ID card.

A list of VACs can be found here mceclip0.png.

You can call the free 24/7 helpline managed by the UK Visas and Immigration on +44 808 164 8810 (0808 164 8810 from within the UK, or +44 175 390 7510) for help with any questions.

Where can I take a photo for my documents?

When providing the biometric information for the Biometric Residence Permit, the digital photo of your face will be taken. There is no need to bring your own photos. Generally, you can search for copy centers in your area.

How do I get Mobile phone/internet services?

The UK mobile operators such as EE, Three, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone have put in place special tariff plans for Ukrainians mceclip0.png. The British Red Cross provides free SIM cards for newly arrived Ukrainians. You will need to call the free British Red Cross Support line on 08081 963 651, select option 3 and provide the relevant details. Please note that in this case the delivery of the SIM card may take several weeks after the initial phone call.

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