Immigration Updates – 23rd of February

Contributor(s): Daniel King
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    United Kingdom

    Changes to Ukraine schemes and care worker route

    On 19 February 2024, the government published a new statement of changes to the immigration rules which makes significant amendments to the humanitarian schemes for Ukrainian nationals and to the Skilled Worker route for care workers.

    On 30 January 2024, the immigration minister confirmed that the Home Office intended to use this statement of changes to make previously-announced changes to the route for care workers. Effective 11 March 2024, the government has removed the right for care workers to bring dependents to the UK, and now required that a sponsor be registered with the Care Quality Commission and is performing regulated activity. The Care Quality Commission requirement does not apply to care workers who have applied on the route and are sponsored in these occupations before these changes come into effect, and who wish to extend their permission with the same sponsor or to settle.

    The changes to the Ukraine scheme, on the other hand, were not announced in advance.

    Effective 19 February 2024, the Ukraine Family Scheme (UFS) is closed to new applicants. This route allowed UK residents to bring Ukrainian national family members to the UK.

    The same Ukrainian nationals who qualified under UFS can qualify under the Homes for Ukraine (HFU) Sponsorship Scheme if their UK family member is approved as a sponsor and they meet the other requirements of the HFU. However, third country (non-Ukrainian) nationals are not eligible for HFU if they are not immediate family members of Ukrainian nationals who qualify or hold permission under the scheme (unlike under UFS). Previously, a sponsor only needed to hold at least six months’ permission to stay in the UK from the date of the visa application.

    Holders of permission under UFS will continue to hold that permission despite the closure of the scheme to new applicants.

    Meanwhile, new visas issued under the Homes for Ukraine route will grant a reduced period of leave of 18 months, rather than three years as previously.

    The Ukraine Extension Scheme (UES) will close to new applications on 16 May 2024.

    Applications can be made under the UES until it closes on 16 May 2024 if one of the following is true:

    • The applicant had permission to be in the UK for any period between 18 March 2022 and 16 November 2023; or
    • The applicant previously had permission to be in the UK and that permission expired on or after 1 January 2022.

    Amendments have been made to the UES to allow children born in the UK after 18 March 2022 to those who have permission under the Ukraine Scheme (including under the now closed Ukraine Family Scheme) to be eligible to apply under this route beyond 16 May 2024. They will be granted permission aligned to the length of permission under the Ukraine Scheme held by their parent. Where the parents hold differing lengths of permission under the Ukraine Scheme, a child will be granted in line with the parent who holds permission that expires last.

    The government also announced that it intends to launch a new Ukraine Permission Extension (UPE) Scheme. Ukraine Scheme visa holders will be able to apply three months before their existing visa is due to expire. The government states that it will provide further details “shortly”.

    The government has also applied to Appendix Ukraine Scheme several grounds for refusal from part 9 of the immigration rules that had been previously omitted from the Ukraine routes.

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