The UK’s Home Office has launched the Ukraine Family Scheme, a visa route specially designed to help Ukrainians with UK-based family members reunite with them in the UK. The new visa scheme will grant Ukrainians with British relatives the right to live, work, and study in the UK for 3 years. People can apply to it for free and it’s been stipulated that applications for this scheme would be prioritized and reviewed as soon as possible.

The only requirements are being Ukrainian or an immediate family member of a Ukrainian applying to the Ukraine Family Scheme and having lived in Ukraine before 1 January 2022. Applicants should also be willing to be subject to security checks. 

The UK-based family members that are described in the scheme can either be British nationals, legal residents, and/or people with settled status or refugee status/humanitarian protection status, as well as EU citizens with pre-settled status residing in the UK prior to 1 January 2021 (including Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland nationals).

Home Secretary Priti Patel recently traveled to Medyka, one of the main road border crossings between Poland and Ukraine, to meet possible applicants for the Ukraine Family Scheme along with Poland’s Deputy Interior Minister Bartosz Grodecki. She was also accompanied by Home Office personnel ready to provide guidance to Ukrainian refugees and speed up visa services at the Ukrainian border.

“It’s heart-breaking to have met families, women, and children forced from their homeland because of the monstrous Russian invasion,” said UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel. “Our expanded Ukraine Family Scheme is now fully open and to see the first people who will apply was wonderful. While we want people to be able to return to their homes at the end of this diabolical invasion, giving thousands of people a route to the UK is the right thing to do”.

The new family scheme has been created in close consultation with Ukrainian leaders and is part of a wider plan that includes economic support (the UK has donated £220 million in emergency and humanitarian aid to Ukraine), 24/7 helplines, extended leave for Ukrainians with seasonal worker visas, the ability to switch to other visa routes (in order to extend the stay of Ukrainians already in the UK), and future uncapped routes for sponsored Ukrainians with no family ties in the UK.

The Home Office has also opened new offices in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Paris (France), to provide attention to Ukrainians crossing the borders or traveling to these countries for safety purposes. The Home Office also inaugurated a new temporary Visa Application Center in Rzeszow, Poland, about 50 miles from the Ukrainian border.

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