The Advice Dorset Partnership E news is published fortnightly on a Thursday, BUT if there is something urgent in-between we will send out a short supplementary edition. This week’s edition is an extra, focussing on issues relating to the Ukraine situation.

As usual feel free to forward this email to  colleagues and  they can get in touch with us if they wish to go on the list.  If you would like to send anything out via the bulletin,  and for all other enquiries about the Advice Dorset Partnership, contact Caroline Buxton on her Citizens Advice Central Dorset email:  mailto:caroline.buxton@centralca.org.uk

You can view previous editions of the E news HERE.

Information Updates: Ukraine

Ukraine Family Scheme – Applications in the UK: The scheme is now open to Ukrainians who are already in the UK on another visa with family members who can sponsor them. They should have been normally living in Ukraine before 31 December 2021 – but they can still apply if they weren’t actually in the Ukraine on that date but were temporarily absent. This will usually be best for a visitor or anyone with a visa that is not a route to settlement.

They can now apply online in the UK and book an appointment to attend a UKVCAS centre to have their fingerprints and photograph taken. They should not pay for any extra services, such as for uploading documents, and if they need to do this during the appointment it will be provided for free.

Citizens Advice info – If you’re from Ukraine and your visa is ending.

Applications from abroad: As of 15 March Ukrainian nationals with a valid Ukrainian international passport or an expired Ukrainian international passport with a formal extension stamp issued by the Ukrainian government, will not have to attend a Visa Application Centre (VAC) before being issued with a visa. Instead they can:

  • apply online and upload a copy of their passport (including the page with the extension stamp if applicable) and evidence of their family relationship and that they were living in Ukraine before 1 January 2022 
  • If successful they will receive a permission letter confirming they can travel to the UK – with this, they will receive a 6-month entry stamp in their passport at the UK border 
  • In the UK they must provide their biometrics within 6 months. They will then have their stay extended to 3 years. 

People with only a domestic Ukrainian passport, ID card or no documents must still make an appointment at a VAC.

See Govt information on the Ukraine Family Scheme Visa here. Also, Citizens Advice information – Bringing family members from Ukraine to the UK

Access to free immigration information from the Ukraine Advice Project UK here. We are a group of volunteer legal professionals with immigration and asylum expertise. We are providing a free service to connect Ukrainian citizens (and others fleeing Ukraine) with free legal advice on UK immigration, visas and asylum from qualified and regulated lawyers.

Another good source of information is the Red Cross, with information on how to help and information for Ukrainian nationals.

Homes for Ukraine Scheme

This new Govt scheme allows people and organisations to sponsor Ukrainian people who do not have family connections in the UK has now been launched and expressions of interest can now be lodged. It will open for applications on 18 March. It has been confirmed that:

  • Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members who were resident in Ukraine before 1 January 2022 will be eligible (immediate family usually means partner and children under 18)
  • Currently sponsors need to match with a particular person or family
  • Sponsors will be subject to a range of checks
  • The application form will be available from 18 March. It can be completed by either the sponsor or the Ukrainian applicant
  • If the applicant has a Ukrainian passport then they will not have to attend a VAC and can apply entirely online
  • The scheme is free of charge
  • Security checks will be carried out – Biometrics (fingerprints and photo) will be taken in the UK after arrival
  • People who come in on this scheme will be granted a 3 year visa with access to public services, work and benefits
  • There is no cap on the numbers of people that can come in on this scheme
  • Sponsors must commit to provide accommodation) for a minimum of 6 months – this can be in their home or in a self-contained property
  • Sponsors will be paid £350 per month [It is likely that the £350 a month will be considered as a ‘thank you’ payment and won’t be taken into account for benefits, but further info is needed from the DWP about the impact on, for example, bedroom tax…..]

More information and links here. People can register their interest on the RESET website Reset Communities and Refugees is helping register and match refugees from Ukraine with sponsors across the UK. We’re a non-profit organisation set up in 2018 to help communities welcome refugees.

On Wednesday 16 March the Sanctuary Foundation hosted an online event on Ukraine Humanitarian Sponsorship Information, with speakers from Ukraine, and a range of organisations including Upbeat Communities, Refugee Education UK, Baby Basics etc. The message was that whilst it’s great that there has been such a strong response from people wanting to host families, there are many practical issues to cover – and there is a lot of support and expertise already out there. The video of this 90 minute session is on youtube.

Local Info on ways to help

Dorset Council

BCP Council