Ukrainians who sought sanctuary in the UK after Russia’s invasion will be granted an 18-month visa under a new extension scheme.
The first visas which granted people three years’ leave in the UK under programmes such as Homes for Ukraine, the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Ukraine Extension Scheme are set to expire in March 2025.
But the Home Office has said individuals under one of the visa schemes will now be able to apply to stay until September 2026 and have the same rights to access work, benefits, healthcare, and education.
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“This new visa extension scheme provides certainty and reassurance for Ukrainians in the UK on their future as this war continues, and we will continue to provide a safe haven for those fleeing the conflict,” Tom Pursglove, border minister, said.
“Families across the country have opened their homes and their hearts to the people of Ukraine, showing extraordinary generosity, including offering shelter to those fleeing from the horrors of war.”
More than 283,000 Ukrainians have been offered or extended sanctuary since the beginning of the invasion on 24 February 2022.
Within months of the beginning of the conflict, many British people offered to open up their homes to refugees who were fleeing the conflict.
For those that successfully registered to become a sponsor and were matched with a Ukrainian guest or family, they receive £350 a month for the first year their guests are in the UK and £500 for the second year.
Housing and Communities minister Felicity Buchan said she wanted to pay tribute to those sponsors across the country who have shown “extraordinary generosity”, but added more will need to come forward.
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“The government continues to provide them with ‘thank-you’ payments in recognition of their support,” she said.
“As more families arrive, we will need more sponsors to come forward. I encourage anyone interested in hosting to check their eligibility and apply as soon as they can.”
The UK also has an £11.8bn package of military, humanitarian and economic support for Ukraine in place.
Those who are in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine, the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Ukraine Extension Scheme and Leave Outside the Rules will be eligible to apply for the extension within the last three months of an existing visa.