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Essential information for Ukrainians entering the UK

This guide provides information for Ukrainians coming to the UK, including which visas are required, how to apply for asylum, and how to find support with health, shelter, and supplies.

A UK visa or immigration permission is always needed to enter the UK. This will be checked by airlines, ferry companies, or border control at airports, ports, or the channel tunnel. When entering the UK make sure that you have: 

  • a valid passport (eg a current or formally extended Ukrainian passport), and

  • your visa or evidence of your immigration permission

Some businesses are supporting Ukrainians attempting to travel to the UK. For example, Eurostar is offering free train tickets from Eurostar stations to London for people with Ukrainian passports and visa permission to enter the UK. For more information on travel support, read the Red Cross’ guidance

Visas

Current options for UK visas or immigration permissions for Ukrainians include: 

  • the Ukraine Family Scheme visa - open to Ukrainian nationals (and their immediate family members) who have family members settled in the UK. It is free to apply. You should apply online if you are outside of the UK. You can also apply from inside the UK.

  • the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (Homes for Ukraine) - open to Ukrainian nationals (and their immediate family members) who have a sponsor willing to host them in the UK. Organisations such as Reset Communities and Refugees can help you find a sponsor. The Scheme is free. You should apply online with your sponsor

  • the Ukraine Extension Scheme - Ukrainian nationals (and their immediate family members) who hold a current UK visa (eg a work or study visa) or had a UK visa that expired on or after 1 January 2022 can apply to stay in the UK under this scheme for up to 3 years. You can apply online for free

The Homes for Ukraine Scheme and the Ukraine Family Scheme visa both require applicants to have lived in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022 (although you may now have left).

Other entry routes include: 

  • entry as a European Economic Area (EEA) passport holder - EEA passport holders do not require visas to enter the UK as visitors 

  • usual UK visitor, work, or study visas - see which visas you may be able to apply for on the Government’s website 

Note that you can only claim asylum once you are physically in the UK (see below).

Visa appointments

If you are applying for a regular visitor, work, or study visa, you need to attend a biometrics appointment (ie an appointment to provide face scans and fingerprints) at a visa application centre (VAC) before entering the UK.

If you are applying for a Ukraine Family Scheme or a Homes for Ukraine visa using a valid Ukrainian passport, you can provide biometric details (ie face scans and fingerprints) after you arrive in the UK.

If you are applying for a Ukraine Family Scheme or a Homes for Ukraine visa without a Ukrainian passport (eg you have an ID card or a different passport), you have to attend a biometrics appointment at a VAC before entering the UK. Note that, as of 30 June 2022, VACs in Ukraine are closed. You should check the Government’s website for updates. 

For more information, see the Government’s guidance.

Apply for asylum

You can apply for asylum in the UK when you are in the UK. You should find a legal way (eg using the immigration routes above) into the UK before claiming asylum.

Once you are in the UK, you can claim asylum if you are unable to live safely in any part of your own country. See the Government’s website for information on applying for asylum. 

The asylum process in the UK can be long and difficult. Various services, including Refugee Council UK and Migrant Help UK, offer advice and support for asylum seekers. 

Working in the UK

You can work in the UK if you are in the UK under: 

  • the Homes for Ukraine scheme

  • the Ukraine Family Scheme

  • the Ukraine Extension Scheme

  • a work visa

If you are in the UK under a student visa, you may be able to work depending on your visa’s restrictions. 

Studying in the UK

You can study in the UK if you are in the UK under: 

  • the Homes for Ukraine scheme

  • the Ukraine Family Scheme

  • the Ukraine Extension Scheme

  • a student visa

  • If you are in the UK under a work visa, you may be able to study.

Children are able to go to school in the UK regardless of the visa that they or their parents (or guardians) have. Speak to your local school or local council to arrange for your child to go to school. 

Accessing public funding

You can access public funds in the UK (eg you can receive benefits, like the main living costs support payment, Universal Credit) if you are in the UK under:

  • the Homes for Ukraine scheme

  • the Ukraine Family Scheme

  • the Ukraine Extension Scheme

Ukrainians entering the UK because of the war can now receive benefits straight away

Information about benefits and how to apply for them is provided by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

You can bring your pets with you to the UK. 

For people coming from Ukraine, the restrictions on bringing pets to the UK have been relaxed. This means that you can arrive at the border with your pet and the Animal and Plant Health Agency will assist you with paperwork and free vaccinations and quarantine for animals.

Some key sources of information and advice for Ukrainians coming to the UK are: 

  • the British Red Cross - offers information on visa schemes and support for obtaining basic needs (eg housing or food). You can call their support line at 0808 196 3651 (interpreters are available)

  • the Ukrainian Institute London - provides information for Ukrainians settling in the UK (eg about job opportunities, language classes and translators, and support groups)

  • the Ukraine Advice Project UK - a network of legal professionals offering to connect Ukrainians with free legal advice on immigration and asylum

Healthcare

Any healthcare needs can be met by the National Health Service (NHS). Most NHS services are provided for free to those in the UK legally. 

You can register online with an NHS GP (a doctor). In a medical emergency call 999 for help. 

Mental health

Mental health support services are available for free online or over the phone. These include: 

  • Mind - provides information and support for mental health needs

  • Samaritans - provides support including a phone line (at 116 123) which is always open

  • Barnardos - provides psychological and more comprehensive support, including support for children

Housing

Help finding housing or resolving problems with current housing can be found from Shelter, a charity which provides advice on housing and homelessness.

The Government provides some housing for asylum seekers waiting for the outcome of their asylum applications. Find out more by reading Shelter’s information about asylum accommodation.

Anyone granted refugee status can rent in the UK using their income or benefits.

If you are in a position to rent housing, good websites for finding a home are: 

AirBnB may be helpful for finding temporary housing when you first arrive.

Food

If you need help buying food, you can get help from food banks, like those run by the Trussell Trust

You may also be able to get food vouchers for certain essential items (eg a hot meal) from your local council.