Closure of the Ukrainian Families Scheme and other immediate changes to the Ukrainian Scheme

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
22 February 2024

A Statement of Changes and an explanatory memorandum have been published, with the changes taking effect on 19 February 2024.

This quick turn-around has departed from the convention that changes to the Immigration Rules should be laid in Parliament for a minimum of 21 days before coming into effect.

Closure of the Ukrainian Families Scheme

Any application made before 3.00pm on 19 February will be considered under the rules in force on 18 February 2024.

After that time, the Ukraine Family Scheme will be closed to new applicants and will be removed from the Rules.

Regarding this quick turnaround and departure from convention, the Explanatory Memorandum set out that:

“The Government considers this departure from the convention to be justified and proportionate in order to maintain the orderly operation of the immigration system.”

The Government suggested that this short turnaround was to avoid an ‘arguably unnecessary’ surge in applications of people trying to benefit from the previous provisions before the Ukrainian Family Scheme’s closure. The Government emphasised that the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme remains open for applications from most of the Ukrainian applicants and sponsors of the Ukraine Family Scheme.

The Government further suggested that “the closure of the Ukrainian Family Scheme affects only a small proportion of potentially eligible individuals”.

Suitability Requirements for remaining Ukraine Schemes

Changes to the suitability requirements for the remaining Ukraine Schemes were also announced.

The list of potential grounds for refusal under the ‘Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme UKR 12.1’ and the ‘Ukraine Extension Scheme UKR 22.1’ have been expanded. The grounds of (i) previous breach of immigration laws or (ii) failure to provide required information were added to the pre-existing grounds.

Changes to the duration of grant under Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme

The duration of grant under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme has also been changed.

The maximum period of leave that will be granted under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme will be halved. The period of permission granted under UKR 20.1 will be shortened from 36 months to 18 months.

Other less significant changes to Appendix Ukraine Scheme announced

  • The specified form for entry clearance applications has changed to ‘Homes for Ukrainian Sponsorship Scheme’ as opposed to ‘Ukrainian Scheme’.
  • The re-drafting of the provisions on varying permission to stay in the UKR 11.3(a) will seemingly have no policy ramifications.
  • It is beyond the scope of this article to specify all the other minor changes to the Scheme.

The political context of these changes

Opposition politicians described the closure of the Ukrainian Scheme days before the two years anniversary of the war as below the radar.

Steven Keen of the Shadow Immigration Minister said that the government minister needs to explain the justification for the latest changes and how they will ensure that vulnerable Ukrainians will not be put at risk by these changes.

The Homes for Ukrainian Scheme has enabled 142,000 Ukrainians to arrive in the UK as of 1 February 2024 states the House of Commons library.