Ukraine visa schemes to be extended by 18 months

A Ukrainian flag is seen flying with a Union Jack in the background

Ukrainians who came to the UK following the Russian invasion will be able to apply for 18-month extensions to their visas, the government has announced.

Since the invasion, the second anniversary of which is next week, some 200,200 Ukrainians and family members have come to the UK.

New arrivals were granted three years to remain, meaning the first visas were due to expire in March 2025.

It means those on the earliest visas can stay until at least September 2026.

The government said it would provide people with “certainty and stability”.

The extension will apply to all three visa schemes set up following the invasion: the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the Ukraine Family Scheme, and the Ukraine Extension Scheme.

Those on the schemes will continue to have the same rights to access work, benefits, healthcare, and education.

Applications for the extensions will be open from early 2025, and people will be able to apply once they are in the last three months of an existing visa.

Migration minister Tom Pursglove said: “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.”

The UK will “continue to provide a safe haven for those fleeing the conflict,” he added.

The government also said the extension underlined its “strong belief that Ukraine will be safe again” and the hope of the Ukrainian government that its citizens will “eventually return to the country, when it is safe to do so”.

Eduard Fesko, charge d’affaires at the Ukrainian embassy in the UK, said it was a “clear signal” of the UK’s support for Ukraine, adding: “We appreciate all the help and assistance that our UK friends so generously provide for the temporarily displaced Ukrainians.”

The announcement comes as senior political figures from around the world attend the Munich Security Conference to discuss the biggest global security challenges.

Speaking at the conference on Saturday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky made an urgent appeal for more weapons, saying they would help avoid a “catastrophic” situation in Europe.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said Britain was “absolutely in the lead” in providing support to Ukraine and urged all of Ukraine’s allies, particularly the US, to maintain their own support.

Republicans in the US Congress are currently refusing to pass a $60bn package of aid to Ukraine until more steps are taken to secure the US-Mexico border.

“If you add up our economies, we outmatch Russia 25-to-one,” he said. “We’ve got the ability to give that diplomatic military, economic, moral support. We have just got to make that difference count.”


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