Legal status and visa requirements for those who were forced to leave Ukraine
The legal status of the Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine and come to the UK is a temporary right to stay status, under a family or sponsorship option. Visa status may vary due to individual circumstances.
The third option for Ukrainians coming to UK is Ukraine Extension Scheme . You can apply for this scheme if one of the following is true:
you held permission to be in the UK on or between 18 March 2022 and 16 May 2023 – the permission does not need to cover the whole period
you previously held permission to be in the UK and that permission expired on or after 1 January 2022
This route does not require a UK based sponsor.
Please carefully consider which scheme you apply to before making an application. Once you have made an application you should avoid applying to another scheme as this may delay a decision being made.
NOTE. These procedures (a family or sponsorship option) should be followed before the Ukrainians come to the UK a border. Once the Ukrainian application has been processed, they will receive an official permission letter from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) confirming that they can travel to the UK without a visa. The permission letter will allow a Ukrainian citizen to board a plane or other form of transport to the UK. Ukrainian’s who were forced to leave Ukraine should not travel to the UK until they have received an official permission letter.
The Ukraine Family Scheme
The Ukraine Family Scheme allows applicants to join family members, or extend their stay, in the UK. Everyone must make a separate application, even children travelling with a family member. It is free to apply. Ukrainians will be able to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds. They can stay in the UK for up to 3 years.
As of 15 March 2022, holders of valid Ukrainian international passports who are outside the UK are not required to provide their biometric information from overseas when making applications under the Ukraine Family Scheme. All applicants need to complete an online application form, but they do not need to attend an in-person appointment at a VAC. Border Force, airlines and carriers have been informed that individuals with valid Ukrainian international passports who have been accepted under the Ukraine Family Scheme will be issued with a letter granting them permission to travel, rather than a UK visa.
On arrival in the UK, the individual should present their letter to Border Force who will endorse their passport with a six-month entry stamp that evidences their right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK. Once in the UK, individuals will be able to make an application to extend their stay (for up to 36 months) and be issued with secure evidence of status. Individuals who have already given their biometrics at a VAC should ensure they obtain a visa in their passport from when they submitted their biometrics and do not attempt to travel before that happens.
If a Ukrainian needs any assistance, they are advised to contact UK Visas and Immigration
Telephone: + 44 808 164 8810
select option 1
(7 days a week, 24 hours a day);
calls are free of charge
If a Ukrainian cannot contact UK 0808 numbers, they can use another number instead. They may have to pay – the phone provider to be checked with if not sure
Telephone: +44 175 390 7510
select option 1
(7 days a week, 24 hours a day)
The Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme
The Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their family members to come to the UK if they have a named sponsor who can provide accommodation. It is free to apply. Ukrainians will be able to live, work, and study in the UK and access public funds. They can stay in the UK for up to 3 years. Once the Ukrainian application has been processed they will receive an official permission letter from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) confirming that they can travel to the UK.
If a Ukrainian needs assistance completing this application, they are advised to call
the 24/7 free helpline
+44 808 164 8810
(0808 164 8810 if you’re in the UK)
If a Ukrainian cannot contact UK 0808 numbers, they can use
+44 (0)175 390 7510
If a Ukrainian holds a valid Ukrainian international passport or an expired Ukrainian international passport with a formal extension stamp issued by the Ukrainian government, they will need to complete an application online, but they do not need to attend an appointment at a visa application centre (VAC) to give their biometric information. Ukrainian nationals can use the ‘UK Immigration: ID check’ app to prove their identity.
- Ukrainian nationals will need to submit their biometrics within 6 months of arriving in the UK to extend their stay for up to 3 years and be issued with a biometric residence permit (BRP) as evidence of their immigration status.
- If Ukrainians do not hold a valid Ukrainian international passport, they will need to book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre.
- There is a permission to travel issued with the application, wich can be done online.
Where can the Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine go for healthcare services?
- Immigration information for Ukrainians in the UK, British nationals and their family members
- UK visa support for Ukrainian nationals
- British Red Cross (0808 196 3651)
- Advice for Ukrainians arriving in the UK
- Migrant Help (Free asylum helpline: 0808 8010 503)
- NHS South West Clinical Commissioning Group: how the NHS works – a guide for migrants
>> Interpretation services
Access to the healthcare services
- In the UK, free public health care through the National Health Service, including hospitals, physicians, and mental health care, is provided.
- There are co-payments in the UK for any medication at the pharmacy, and also for dental care.
Where can the Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine go for the following healthcare services?
The first point of entry is the local general practitioner (GP) practice. With the Family Scheme, this should be the GP the local family member uses. With the Sponsorship Scheme, this should be the GP the local sponsor uses. When it is known where to stay, register with a local GP practice.
- For acute services, hospital accident and emergency departments are always open.
- For chronic services, GP services are available.
- For other services, GP services should be addressed as a point of entry.
- Any ID can be presented to access healthcare services:
- Birth certificate
- HC2 certificate
- Rough sleepers’ identity badge
- Hostel or accommodation registration or mail forwarding letter
Services for People Living with HIV
HIV testing is free of charge at any sexual health or GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinic, or at the GP This can be anonymous.
Several HIV organisations provide HIV testing at community venues.
- The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) also have testing centres around the UK.
- Positive East offer free rapid HIV tests in many sites in East London. There is no need to make an appointment.
- The LBGT Foundation in Manchester also offers free rapid testing.
Private clinics sometimes offer HIV tests that are not recommended the testing guidelines.
The British HIV Association (BHIVA), Chiva and Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) are working together to help Ukrainian refugees living with HIV who are arriving in the UK.
People living with HIV can call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 or email at email@example.com for support, advice and information from 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Ukrainian refugees will be made aware that HIV treatment is free and will be given details of their nearest NHS HIV clinic.
BHIVA and Chiva will provide any additional support needed. THT will signpost callers to the relevant organisation.
Adults living with HIV can contact BHIVA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pregnant women living with HIV or families with children or young people living with HIV can contact:
Out of hours: Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust – callers can contact the switchboard on 0203 312 6666 and ask for the Paediatric Infectious Diseases Consultant on call if the enquiry is out of hours (Monday – Friday, 5pm – 8am, weekends and Bank Holidays).
These services will link people to treatment and support across the UK.
Antiretroviral treatment (ART)
- People on ART can bring their own medication into the country together with their doctor’s prescription. ART is free of charge.
- Those seeking help should find a special clinic which provides HIV services.
- All HIV-positive persons who inject drugs, can receive ART in the UK.
How can minors get treatment?
Minors can get tested and can get ART following the same procedure as adults.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
Free PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is currently only available from sexual health clinics. Ukrainian nationals will not be able to get it from their GP or a community pharmacy at present. Pre-exposure prophylaxis can be taken for as long as the risk of exposure exists.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
PEP is recommended immediately after the risky event, best in the first 24 hours, up to 72 hours e.g. if a partner is HIV+ (without therapy) and the condom breaks or in case of an accident, a puncture wound, contaminated syringes etc. It is free of charge (covered by health insurance) and there is no minimum age for receiving post-exposure prophylaxis. Treatment lasts for 28 days.
To get HIV PEP services, search for the clinic using the following websites:
Services for People Living with Hepatitis B or C
Hepatitis B or C testing, hepatitis B vaccination, and hepatitis B or C treatment availability
All the services are available free of charge for all registered Ukrainians. The health insurance covers the cost of vaccination – and for therapy if a diagnosis has been made. They can go to the local GP surgery, drug service, genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic or sexual health clinic for help and advice.
Treatment options available for hepatitis related liver diseases, including support systems (harm reduction/safer use, social support, or psychosocial support)
The following monitoring and follow-up options are available for the Ukrainians:
Screening for TB is recommended to be offered to migrant populations arriving in the UK, including Ukrainians.
If a Ukrainian or their child who was forced to leave Ukraine has symptoms of TB, the point of entry for accessing care is the GP practice.
If TB was already diagnosed in Ukraine and the person needs to continue treatment:
Treatment for TB and Latent TB Infection (LTBI) in the UK is free for everyone, regardless of immigration status and irrespective of eligibility for other NHS care. Treatment should be accessed through the GP practice.
The various types of support, like food, shelter, and psychological support are available via the specialised TB clinics, after GP referral, but also through the website “The Truth about TB”.
If a person has a Ukrainian prescription for TB treatment medication…
The treatment needs to be prescribed by a UK service. Address the GP practice.
Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination for children
Access to vaccination is via the GP services.
Opioid agonist treatment (OAT) services
If a person is willing to bring their own take-home dosage into the UK:
They need to prove their medicine is prescribed to them if:
- It contains a ‘controlled drug’
- They have it on them when they’re entering the UK
What sort of proof patients need depends on the category of drug and how much of it they’re bringing in.
NOTE. Buprenorphine and methadone are included in the list of ‘controlled drugs’.
If a patient‘s medicine contains a drug from the list, when entering the UK, they need to either:
- Carry a letter of proof that the medicine was prescribed to them. The letter must include: the patient’s name, what countries they’re going to and when, a list of their medicines (including how much they have, doses, and the strength), and the signature of the person who prescribed their drugs.
- Get a personal licence (issued by Drug and Firearms Licensing Unit: email@example.com) if a patient’s is travelling in the UK for at least 3 months or carrying enough of the medicine to last them that long. For more information about the personal licence: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/controlled-drugs-personal-licences.
The Ukrainians who were forced to leave Ukraine will receive OAT free of charge in the UK via the available services; the first point of entry is the GP. This will be followed by referrals to specialist services and follow up with pharmacies for dispensing the dosages. Take-home dosages are available for the Ukrainians through deliveries from the pharmacies.
What OAT drugs are available in the country?
General requirements and access to healthcare
02. Leaflet “Immigration information for Ukrainians in the UK, British nationals and their family members”
Leaflet “Immigration information for Ukrainians in the UK, British nationals and their family members”. Home Office, 3 May 2022.
06. Leaflet “How the NHS works: a guide for migrants”
Leaflet “How the NHS works: a guide for migrants”. UK Health Security Agency, Mayor of London, NHS, February 2022.
09. Guidance for Commissioners: Interpreting and Translation Services in Primary Care
Stephenson S. et all. Guidance for Commissioners: Interpreting and Translation Services in Primary Care. NHS England / Primary Care Commissioning: September 2018, 17 p.