In response to an online petition to “Give Ukrainians on humanitarian visas rights to extend, stay and settle in the UK” the Government has responded and said that Ukrainians are expected to leave after three years.
The petition had gathered over 16,600 signatures (10,000 being the threshold to mandate a Government response), to which the U.K. Government said the following:
“Ukraine schemes are not a route for permanent relocation to the U.K. but instead allow for temporary protection until they can return home to rebuild Ukraine.”
It added: “The Government’s objective throughout has been to provide a proportionate period of leave to remain in the U.K. through visas issued under the schemes. The leave period is purposely set at 36 months to ensure those granted leave under the schemes have enough certainty to settle into independent living, work and contribute to society during their stay and to protect Ukrainians against the need to renew permission.”
One Ukrainian citizen who wishes to remain anonymous said: “This news is devastating. I married my British husband last year, he’s returned to work full time in the U.K. and now we have a baby on the way. What’s going to happen to my family?”
The U.K. Government established three schemes to enable Ukrainians to come to the Great Britain, or to extend their existing leave in the country – the Ukraine Family Scheme for those with family members in the country; the Homes for Ukraine Scheme for those seeking to live with sponsors, and the Visa Extension Scheme.
All three schemes grant Ukrainians three years’ permission to remain in the U.K. with entitlement to work and access benefits and public services, although until now there had been no word from the government about options that might be open to Ukrainians that – over the course of three years – may have built a life in the country, potentially with spouses, children, work and education.
The U.K. Government said: “Having launched one of the fastest and biggest visa schemes in UK history, as of Feb. 23 2023, 219,723 visas have been issued, 23,777 applications have been granted leave to remain extensions while in the U.K., and 163,511 Ukrainians have so far arrived in the U.K.”
On the matter of the rights to stay after three years, the government said: “While we keep any future need for an extension of protection in the U.K. under review and in line with developments of the situation in Ukraine, we firmly believe that Ukraine will be safe again.”
It reiterated that its schemes “provide Ukrainians with three years’ temporary sanctuary in the U.K., until [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is defeated and they can safely return home” and that they “are not routes for settlement.”
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