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Ukrainian refugees in UK can extend visas by 18 months

by Abbey Fenbert February 18, 2024 4:11 AM 2 min read
A British couple from Cambridgeshire waits for their refugee guest from Ukraine at London's Luton Airport, May 9, 2022. (Dominika Zarzycka/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Ukrainians who fled to the U.K. to escape Russia's full-scale invasion will be allowed to extend their visas by another 18 months, the U.K.'s Home Office announced Feb. 17.

Over 200,000 Ukrainians have migrated to the U.K. since March 2022, with the first visas set to expire in March 2025.

“This new visa extension scheme provides certainty and reassurance for Ukrainians in the UK on their future as this war continues, and we will continue to provide a safe haven for those fleeing the conflict," said Tom Pursglove, the U.K.'s Legal Migration Minister.

The extension announcement follows reports that thousands of Ukrainian refugees in the U.K. face housing insecurity.  

Following the full-scale invasion, the U.K. set up a number of schemes to provide visas and temporary housing to Ukrainians fleeing war, including the "Homes for Ukraine" initiative. Under "Homes for Ukraine," British families volunteered to sponsor refugees and received payments from the government in exchange. The program has served 143,400 Ukrainians as of February 2024.

A government report in October 2023 found that nearly 5,000 Ukrainians participating in the program were at risk of homelessness.

British media also reported in December 2023 that Ukrainians in the U.K. are often targeted by "sophisticated" visa and sponsorship scams.

Eduard Fesko, charge d’affaires at the Ukrainian embassy, expressed appreciation for the visa extension and said it was a "clear signal" of the U.K.'s ongoing support for refugees.

“We appreciate all the help and assistance that our U.K. friends so generously provide for the temporarily displaced Ukrainians," Fesko said.

The government initially granted visa holders a three-year residency in the U.K., meaning the first visas will expire in March 2025. The Home Office said applications to extend the visa will be available online beginning in early 2025.

Russia’s war forced millions of Ukrainians to flee abroad. How many will return?
Viktoria Vozna, 25, had always enjoyed her quiet life in native Brovary, a city just east of Kyiv, and dreamed of raising her own children there one day. She never wanted to live abroad, but Russia’s brutal war forced her out of the country. After saving up enough money
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