The Home Office has stated that Ukrainian refugees with relatives in the UK will be eligible to apply for a three-year visa. Initially, the UK only granted visas to immediate family members, but that was changed on Tuesday to cover parents, grandparents, and siblings.
Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the first expansion of the scheme earlier this week, saying that Ukrainians with close relatives in the UK might be granted leave for “an initial duration of 12 months.”
After facing requests to extend visas to all those escaping the conflict zone, the Home Office stated on Friday that Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion will now be permitted to live, work, and claim benefits in the United Kingdom for three years.
‘As soon as feasible,’ applications will be handled.
- According to official media, Russia has declared a truce in two locations to facilitate humanitarian routes out of Mariopol and Volnovakha.
- Zelenskyy warns of a ‘poor’ response to the invasion of Ukraine. NATO will bear some of the blame for the deaths if it fails to implement a no-fly zone.
- Boris Johnson believes Putin has no other option than to ‘continue the damage’ in Ukraine.
The Ukraine Family Scheme, which launched today, will accept applications from people who have direct family, extended family, or immediate family members of an extended family member in the UK.
Spouses or civil partners, unmarried partners living together for two years or more, children under the age of 18, a parent if their kid in the UK is under the age of 18, and fiancées or potential civil partners are all considered immediate family.
Adult children, adult children’s parents, grandparents, grandkids, and siblings make form an extended family.
Individuals must be Ukrainian or a close relative of a Ukrainian person applying for the programme, and they must have lived in Ukraine before January 1, 2022. Those who qualify can apply for the scheme for free, albeit their applications will be subject to security checks.
The initiative would allow applicants to “join family members or prolong their stay in the UK,” according to the Home Office, with applications being handled “as swiftly as possible.”
Individuals and organisations will be able to support Ukrainians to come to the UK through a sponsorship system.
There is a lot of pressure from the labour movement to extend the scheme.
After Labour suggested the government needed to go further by establishing a “simple emergency visa available to all Ukrainians who need asylum and safety in the UK,” the Ukraine Family Scheme was extended.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, has asked for a more flexible 12-month “emergency protection visa” for anybody leaving Ukraine, regardless of whether they have relations in the UK.
Normal visa criteria might be eased, according to Labour, however biometrics and security checks would still be required, which could be done en way to the UK.
“Right now, people need a straightforward and safe way to safety,” Ms Cooper said.
“While most individuals wish to stay close to home, particularly those who have had to leave family behind, the UK must also play a role in assisting people seeking assistance and protection in our nation.”
The SNP has previously requested a visa waiver, but Ms Patel refused on security grounds, citing the need for security checks.
‘A pivotal moment in the struggle for liberty
Ms Patel travelled to Medyka in eastern Poland, near the Ukrainian border, on Friday to meet those attempting to flee to the United Kingdom and observe the situation firsthand.
“The British government will do everything it can to help the Ukrainian people at this vital juncture in their battle for independence,” she said ahead of the visit. Following consultations with the Ukrainian government and neighbouring nations, I designed the Ukraine family plan, which I am happy to have introduced in only a few days, allowing Ukrainians with relatives in the UK to be welcomed securely, promptly, and without charge ” The UK stands side to shoulder with Ukrainians, offering humanitarian assistance.”
A spokeswoman for the Home Office also revealed that “about 100 applications” had been received for the current scheme in the three weeks it has been available, as well as “approximately 300 applications” for the tourist route.
After the EU stated that fleeing Ukrainians would not require family ties in member nations to stay for three years, Ms Patel came under growing pressure to extend the Ukraine Family Scheme.
So far, almost a million people have fled Ukraine. The “generous programme,” according to the Home Office, aims to allow 6,000 Ukrainians to enter the UK each week by the end of March, with capacity increasing daily.