Ukraine visa scheme unexpectedly closed by UK government

Ukraine visa scheme unexpectedly closed by UK government

A visa scheme allowing Ukrainian refugees to bring their family members to the UK has been closed without warning.

The UK government yesterday announced the immediate closure of the Ukraine family scheme (UFS), while new visas under the Homes for Ukraine (HFU) scheme will now be issued for 18 months instead of 36 months.

The Work Rights Centre, a charity supporting migrants with employment issues, said the decision “will come as a cruel shock to people in the middle of making an application to join a family member in the UK”.

In a Twitter thread, it said it was preparing to submit a visa application on behalf of a Ukrainian woman seeking to bring her daughter to the UK, and would now “have to tell her the scheme has closed, and her daughter will need to find a new route to safety”.

Jennifer Blair, a barrister with No5 Chambers, said some Ukrainians who were intending to make applications under the UFS will be able to apply under the HFU scheme instead, but “some families will be barred from coming to the UK”.

“It’s deeply unjust to force families to separate like this,” she said.

Yesterday’s announcement also confirms that Ukrainians who arrived in the UK under one of the Ukraine visa schemes will be able to stay for an additional 18 months. The earliest arrivals will be able to stay until at least September 2026.

Tom Pursglove, minister for legal migration and the border, 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 two 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.”

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