Guidance for Ukrainians Going to the UK (English)
The UK’s Homes for Ukraine visa scheme went live on March 18th, and the situation is evolving. The following is a summary of our understanding, up to date as of 7th August 2022. For the latest official information, we suggest visiting the UK government website and FAQ page (Ukrainian).
Guidance for Ukrainians looking to go to the UK
Who can apply?
Ukrainian nationals who were officially a resident of Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022, and their immediate family members (see eligibility) may apply. Ukraine nationals with an international passport can apply online and will receive the visa offer by email. They do not need to visit the visa office. Those without international passports must make an appointment online to visit the visa office after submitting their visa application.
I was away for part of 2021, will this be a problem?
Our interpretation of the guidance is that if you were on a study or work trip away during part of 2021, this should not be a problem and you may still apply.
How long will I be able to stay in the UK?
You will be able to stay for at least three years. Initially, you will receive permission to stay for 6 months, and this will then be extended for three years. It has not yet been confirmed what will happen after the three years.
Will I be able to work?
Once you have arrived at your new address, you will be able to apply for (or receive) a Biometric Residence Permit and work immediately, and will also have access to jobs support, including translation help.
Will there be financial support available?
You will have access to financial support immediately upon opening a bank account, such as ‘universal credit’, while you are seeking employment or caring for family. You will require a bank account to receive this. Some Ukrainians granted visas have opened bank accounts online with Monzo.
What restrictions will I have on leaving and entering the UK after receiving a visa?
You will typically have 90 days to enter the UK if you received a passport sticker. This may be longer if you have an international passport. You may check your permission-to-travel letter.
How can I get to the UK?
There are many flights to the UK, however you will need to pay for these or to make financial arrangements with your sponsor, where possible. You may also be able to find special buses and transports here for free, or by visiting Warsaw Central Station and asking the information desk. Note: train travel is no longer free in Poland, but Ukrainians may generally travel by train from Germany to the UK for free.
Train travel from Germany
From Berlin, you may take a train to Brussels via Koln. From Brussels (or Paris), you may take the Eurostar train to London. In most cases, these trains are free for Ukrainians, although tickets must be collected from each station. You may speak with volunteers at Warsaw Central, Berlin and Brussels stations for further advice on times and eligibility.
I am traveling with a pet
Some airlines may allow you to fly with a pet, while others may not. The Eurostar train from Brussels and Paris generally does not allow you to bring pets. Some pet owners have taken trains to Paris, where volunteers provide assistance, and then ferries from Dieppe (France) to Newhaven (England). For a free ferry ticket you may need to book in advance (+443305878787). You must ensure you have the correct documentation for your pet(s).
Do I need to have received a Covid-19 vaccination?
A Covid-19 vaccine is no longer needed to enter the UK. However, some sponsors may insist on those they host at home being vaccinated, especially if they suffer from a medical condition. You will need to discuss this with your host. Currently, over 70% of the UK is fully vaccinated.
How can I get to my host family’s home?
You will need to make arrangements with your hosts for meeting one another once inside the UK. However you can access free train travel within the UK for the first 48 hours to complete your journey.
We do not all have international passports. What should we do?
If you have family members without an international passport, or cannot use the new ID check app, you must book an appointment at the local Visa Application Centre. This can be done online after completing the visa application. The Visa Application Centre in Warsaw is currently at the Business Garden Business Center.
Who can be my host family / visa sponsor?
Your sponsor must be residing in the UK (for at least the next six months), and willing to offer you free accommodation for at least the first six months. For participating in the scheme, your host will receive £350 per month for up to the first 12 months, which may help support additional household expenses.
How can I find a sponsor/host?
There are several services designed to match Ukrainians with hosts, including the government-backed homesforukraine.org.uk. If using such a service, we suggest asking about any safeguarding measures and support that is in place. You may also like to leave your contact details here and we will aim to follow-up on your circumstances. Alternatively, you may consider going to Scotland, which does not require an individual sponsor. (Note: the Scotland scheme is suspended until mid-September.)
What if I need to move somewhere else within the first six months?
Hosts are expected to offer you accommodation for at least the first six months, however if you need to move within the first six months, you may do so independently or by speaking with local authorities. This should not affect your status. We would expect hosts to support your wishes, and where appropriate, to discuss how to transition the £350 to your new host.
What do I need to do if I am bringing a pet?
You can find the official government guidance on bringing pets to the UK here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/bringing-your-pet-to-the-uk-from-ukraine. For specific queries, you may speak to APHA about your pet’s circumstances by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +44 3000 200 301, option 2. For dogs and cats, you will require a pet passport, microchip, rabies vaccine, and tapeworm medication before travel. However, there is still a risk that your pet may face quarantine.
How can I find work in the UK?
We suggest you speak with your sponsor about work in the local area. The government has not yet announced any specific campaigns to promote work opportunities. Some companies have reportedly pledged to offer jobs specifically to Ukrainians. You can also view the government guide for those arriving to the UK about your right to work.
How can I find a school/university in the UK?
We suggest you speak with your sponsor about local schooling. The government has not yet announced any specific schooling arrangements for Ukrainian children, however it has been reported that school places for 100,000 Ukrainian children will be made available. [Update: university tuition is free in Scotland for the 2022/2023 year, and ‘home fee status’ will be offered for the rest of the UK.]
What should I consider when seeking a sponsor?
There are various matching schemes for finding a sponsor. The government has committed to doing background checks into host families for safety purposes, however we suggest trying to speak with your host family to get to know them first, utilising an interpreter if needed. Of course, this may not always be possible during emergencies, so you may need to rely on a trusted contact or organisation for an introduction. For Scotland you do not need to find an individual sponsor. (Note: the Scotland scheme is suspended until mid-September.)
How do I complete the visa application?
The visa application form is available from here. Your sponsor will need to provide some information. If you need help from an interpreter, you may contact the volunteer desk at Warsaw Central Station.
What will I need for the application?
The application form takes some time to complete from a computer or phone with data connection. You will need passport information and addresses. You will also need to respond to a number of security questions involving your history, and supporting evidence. Currently, a unique application is necessary for each family member.
What supporting evidence will I need?
Besides for photos of your passports, the guidance suggests you should include evidence that you were a resident in Ukraine before 1st January 2022. For those without such evidence, reportedly it may be sufficient to only include passport photos, and anything else needed based on the specific case, such as marriage certificate.
How long will the application take to be approved?
There is no official approval period, however visas are reportedly taking between 7 days, and as long as 3-4 weeks. To check your application status, you may ask your sponsor to contact their Member of Parliament and quote your reference number. The application reference number will begin with GWF (or will be a 16-digit number).
What if I have more questions about the scheme or about life in the UK?
If you have further questions, you may refer to the UK government’s welcome guide. For specific application or visa queries, you may also contact the UK hotline for Ukrainians: +44 808 196 3651. The British Red Cross also has a helpline for Ukrainians.