The current situation in Ukraine is understandably very worrying for people all around the world. As well as the immediate danger of loss of life, the war is also creating a humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates (as of 28th February 2022) that 422,000 people have already fled the country. With more than 100,000 people displaced within the country. This blog examines the recently announced changes to UK visa rules, for Ukrainian nationals already in the United Kingdom as a visitor (or on another temporary visa) who wish to stay in the UK.
Ukrainian nationals in the United Kingdom
The Home Office have announced a concession that will apply to some Ukrainian nationals currently in the UK on a visit visa, or another type of leave granted for a period of less than 6 months. This concession applies to those who want to say in the UK under the family immigration rules. For example as a partner, parent or under the Adult Dependant Relative visa.
Ordinarily, someone who is in the UK as a visitor would have to leave the country before the expiry of their leave. They would then make an application for entry clearance under the family rules from abroad. For obvious reasons, given the potential difficulties, the Home Office has temporarily waived this requirement for Ukrainian nationals who are currently in the UK and meet the criteria below:
- The applicant has leave granted as a visitor or valid leave granted for a period of 6 months or less, unless that leave is as a fiancé(e) or proposed civil or was granted pending the outcome of family court or divorce proceedings, or has been granted exceptional assurance
- The applicant has confirmed in writing that they wish to be considered under this concession and has explained their reasons for applying in-country, rather than returning to Ukraine to make an entry clearance application
The criteria has been met- What next?
If these criteria are met, then an applicant can apply to switch from their existing leave to leave under the family immigration rules.
So, let’s think about a practical example. Our potential applicant is a Ukrainian national, currently in the UK after being granted leave to enter as a visitor. They have three months remaining on their leave and they are the spouse of a British citizen. As outlined above, ordinarily if the applicant wished to switch from their leave as a visitor to leave as a partner, they would have to depart the UK before the expiry of their visitor visa, then apply for entry clearance as a partner from abroad. This requirement has temporarily been waived for Ukrainian nationals and so the applicant could apply for leave to remain as a partner from within the UK. If the applicant meets all requirements for the leave they are applying for, then this will be granted as normal on a five year route to settlement.
The concession also allows Adult Dependent Relatives to apply from within the UK. This type of application can usually only ever be made from abroad. It may well be that those who have parents with care needs that can no longer have those care needs met as a result of the conflict, will wish to take advantage of this concession and make an application from within the UK.
Due to the current situation in Ukraine, the Home Office has also recognised that it may be difficult to provide all of the documentation ordinarily required to support an application under the family rules being made from abroad. If this is the case, then the Home Office requires an explanation of why any document cannot be provided. Home Office guidance states that a ‘decision maker does not require detailed evidence as to why a document is not available. They can instead be satisfied with a reasonable written explanation provided with the application as to why the document cannot be obtained.’ The guidance also provides examples of why documents may not be obtainable, such as an institution not fully functioning due to the military conflict or the document only be obtainable in person.
Ukrainian nationals wishing to apply to stay in the UK as a fiancée or proposed civil partner must have arrived on a visa as a fiancée or proposed civil partner. It should also be noted that the details above only apply to Ukrainian nationals.
The following link may be useful for Ukrainian nationals who are still in Ukraine and who usually live in Ukraine, but are the family member of a British national.
If you require any assistance with applying to switch to the family route, than please contact OTB Legal to set up a free initial consultation and discuss your query with a specialist immigration advisor.