Immigration Update: Europe’s Approach to Ukrainian Refugees

The Russia/Ukraine conflict has resulted in an exodus of refugees from Ukraine on a level which has not been experienced in Europe since World War II. Currently, close to three million refugees have fled Ukraine and some experts anticipate this number will increase to four to seven million. Countries are taking differing approaches to opening their borders to Ukrainian refugees.

European Union

The approach adopted across the member states of the European Union is to allow entry and temporary protection to all war refugees of Ukraine, including non-national permanent residents of Ukraine. Upon their arrival in an EU member state, the refugees will be able to work and access health care, housing and education. The EU has granted refugees permission to remain for at least a year, without having to go through a lengthy asylum process. The refugees may remain in EU member states for up to three years if the conflict continues and the refugees are not able to safely return to their homes.

United Kingdom

Home for Ukrainians

The U.K. is also offering residence for at least three years for individuals fleeing Ukraine. The government has introduced a “Home for Ukrainians” scheme, which works by pairing U.K. citizens (and residents with more than six months of leave to remain) who are willing to act as hosts (for which they may opt to receive a £350 monthly payment) with Ukrainian refugees. The sponsored refugee(s) will then live in the host’s home for at least six months when they first arrive in the U.K.

Ukraine Family Scheme

An alternative route into the U.K. is the Ukraine Family Scheme which is available to Ukrainian citizens with a U.K.-based family member who is either British, has Settled Status in the U.K. or has Pre-Settled Status if they are from the EU. The U.K.-based family member must be (i) an immediate family member, (ii) an extended family member or (iii) an immediate family member of an extended family member.

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