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Ukraine family visa scheme closes to new applicants

The UK government has shut down the visa program for Ukrainian families seeking to join relatives in the UK, citing sustainability concerns following the Russian invasion.
Home Office Minister Tom Pursglove declared the end of the Ukraine Family Scheme, effective immediately. Despite criticism from the SNP for its abrupt closure, the Homes for Ukraine initiative, which allows UK individuals to host Ukrainian refugees without family ties, will continue.

Since the conflict began, over 200,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK through these initiatives. The government has offered an 18-month visa extension for Ukrainians who have already been granted sanctuary. New visa durations under the Homes for Ukraine program have been halved from three years to 18 months.

Pursglove explained that the Homes for Ukraine scheme includes checks such as sponsor commitments and safeguarding that the family scheme lacked. Critics, including Labour's Stephen Kinnock and the SNP's Alison Thewliss, view these measures as a step back in support for Ukraine.

Refugee Council's Enver Solomon emphasized that the UK should establish more consistent refugee support, instead of temporary solutions that leave families uncertain about their future.

Changes have also been made to the sponsor eligibility for the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Now, sponsors must be British or Irish citizens, or have permanent UK residency, and comply with security and housing suitability checks. Hosting arrangements require a six-month rent-free offer.

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