Thank you to those who contacted me about British support for Ukrainian nationals. I know that this is an issue about which my constituents care deeply, with some even generously bringing vulnerable Ukrainians into their home.
I am appalled by the conduct of Putin’s expansionist regime. The Russian attack on the Ukraine is an unprovoked and anti-democratic act of aggression. I am proud that Britain is actively seeking to assist Ukraine in every aspect of this conflict. Ministers have assured me that they continue to keep the Government’s handling of the situation under review as it develops.
The expansive Ukrainian Family Scheme - which allows family members of British nationals, UK settled persons and certain others to come or stay in the UK - is a welcome step. Those joining the Scheme will be granted leave for three years and will be able to work, study and access public funds. The Scheme is also free and does not include any salary or language requirements.
The Ukraine Extension Scheme, which has now formally launched, allows Ukrainian nationals (or a family member) to live, work and study in the UK. Individuals can apply if they had permission to stay in the UK on or before 18 March 2022. Applications can also be made in the event someone’s permission to stay expired on or after 1 January 2022. Furthermore, Ukrainians already in the UK can extend their current visa or switch to another immigration route, where eligible, even if their visa does not normally allow them to do so
Furthermore, I warmly welcome the 'Homes for Ukraine' scheme which allows individuals, charities, community groups and businesses in the UK to bring Ukrainians to safety - including those with no family ties with the UK. Individual sponsors will be asked to provide homes or a spare room rent-free for as long as they are able, with a minimum stay of six months. In return, they will receive £350 per month. Ukrainians arriving in the UK under this scheme will be granted three years' leave to remain, with entitlement to work, and access benefits and public services.
Guidance on UK visa support for Ukrainian nationals and their family members can be found at this address: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/support-for-family-members-of-british-natio…
I am especially troubled by reports that desperate Ukrainians who have left their homes have struggled to access the generous support provided by the Government. It is vital that they can do so as quickly as possible and I welcome that the Minister for Safe and Legal Migration has continued to keep Parliament updated on the progress of the UK's humanitarian offering as it develops. Application forms have been simplified to make it quick and easy to use, the Home Office has increased capacity in Visa Application Centres across Europe, following advice from security and intelligence agencies that it was safe to do so, the need for biometrics to be taken from those with valid Ukrainian passports before arrival in the UK has been removed, allowing the vast majority of applicants to apply entirely online.
I have also been assured that my ministerial colleagues regularly monitor the schemes' operational performance, bringing in additional caseworkers to ensure Ukrainian applications are prioritised.