New 18-month visa extension scheme for Ukrainians in the UK

An 18-month visa extension scheme has been announced for Ukrainians who sought sanctuary in the UK in the aftermath of Russia’s illegal invasion.

From early 2025 those in the UK under one of the Ukraine visa schemes will be able to apply to stay for another 18 months, the Home Office said.

The first visas which granted 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.

The move comes as the two-year anniversary approaches of the invasion which Legal Migration and the Border minister Tom Pursglove described as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “unprovoked, premeditated and illegal war against Ukraine”.

The extension means those who came on the first visas under one of the Ukraine visa schemes could now stay in the UK until September 2026 and have the same rights to access work, benefits, healthcare, and education.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
People take part in a blue and yellow themed vigil of prayer, reflection and action for the people of Ukraine at Winchester Cathedral (Steve Parsons/PA)

“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.”

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 will be eligible to apply when the project opens online from early 2025.

Those who were granted Leave Outside the Rules because they required sanctuary in the UK from Ukraine will also be eligible, the Home Office added.

Individuals will be able to make their applications within the last three months of an existing visa.

Since the launch of the 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.

The Ukraine flag (Peter Byrne/PA)

“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.”

Eduard Fesko, the charge d’affaires at the Embassy of Ukraine to the UK, described the extension scheme as “a clear signal of the continuous support” by the Government.

He added: “We appreciate all the help and assistance that our UK friends so generously provide for the temporarily displaced Ukrainians.”

A £11.8 billion UK package of military, humanitarian and economic support for Ukraine is also in place.

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