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UK government announces new visa extension scheme for Ukrainians

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Ukrainians who sought sanctuary in the UK in the aftermath of Russia’s illegal invasion have been provided with certainty, as the government announces a new visa extension scheme.

From early 2025, all those in the UK under one of the Ukraine visa schemes will be able to apply to stay here for an additional 18 months and continue to have the same rights to access work, benefits, healthcare, and education throughout their stay. This will mean that those who came on the first visas under one of the Ukraine visa schemes could now stay in the UK until September 2026.

When the conflict began, the government very quickly established 3 generous Ukraine schemes – the first of their kind to be made operational anywhere in the world. Under Homes for Ukraine, the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Ukraine Extension Scheme, visa holders were granted 3 years leave in the UK, which would have meant the first visas were set to expire in March 2025.

The 18-month extension delivers on the government’s long-term commitment to Ukraine and comes as the world approaches 2 years since Russia’s reprehensible full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since the launch of our Ukraine schemes, the UK has offered or extended sanctuary to more than 283,000 Ukrainians, in part thanks to the immense generosity of the British public.

That generosity is in addition to the major package of military, humanitarian and economic support given to Ukraine by the UK, which now totals £11.8 billion.

Minister for Legal Migration and the Border, Tom Pursglove MP, said:

The UK Government, together with our partners and allies, stands in solidarity with Ukraine and unequivocally condemns Putin’s unprovoked, premeditated and illegal war against Ukraine. 

Almost 2 years on from the start of this brutal war, over 200,000 Ukrainians and their family members have arrived in Britain. 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.

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.

Minister for Housing and Communities, Felicity Buchan, said:

This is brilliant news for Ukrainians who have found refuge in the UK and are contributing so positively in our communities.

I want to pay tribute to the extraordinary generosity shown by sponsors across the country. The government continues to provide them with ‘thank-you’ payments in recognition of their support.

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.

Charge d’Affaires at the Embassy of Ukraine to the UK, Eduard Fesko, said:

We welcome the announcement by the UK Government of the decision on the future functioning of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. It is a clear signal of the continuous support by the HM Government of Ukrainians, fleeing the war, through the provision of a temporary protection status in the UK until they can return home.

We appreciate all the help and assistance that our UK friends so generously provide for the temporarily displaced Ukrainians.

The 18-month visa extension will help Ukrainians plan ahead, if they choose to remain in the UK, when committing to work, study or to rent a property, for example.

It is also underlines the government’s strong belief that Ukraine will be safe again, and the hope of the Government of Ukraine that their citizens will eventually return to the country, when it is safe to do so.

Applications will be open online from early 2025, with those who have come to the UK holding, or having held, permission to remain under the Homes for Ukraine, the Ukraine Family Scheme or the Ukraine Extension Scheme eligible.

Those who were granted leave outside the rules because they required sanctuary in the UK from Ukraine will also be eligible. Individuals will be able to make their applications within the last 3 months of an existing visa.

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