How to apply for the Homes for Ukraine scheme in the UK

UK government has announced a scheme that would welcome more refugees into the country

Related video: Priti Patel announces Ukrainian refugees with passports can apply for UK visa online

Britons have been opening their homes to Ukrainians fleeing their country, as part of the “sponsored” humanitarian route to allow more refugees to travel to the UK.

The route gives Ukrainians without family links to the UK the opportunity come to the country in order to escape the war against Russia.

It came after the government faced criticism for its response to the refugee crisis. Michael Gove, the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary, said that anyone keen to offer refugees shelter in the UK can register their interest through the scheme.

Prime minister Boris Johnson told MPs that the route will allow “everybody in this country [to] offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine”.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been ongoing for over a month now and an estimated 10 million people have fled the country since it began.

As of Wednesday 13 April, the Home Office said it has received 94,700 Ukraine Scheme visa applications, including 39,100 through the Family Scheme and 55,600 through the Sponsorship Scheme. Of these, 31,400 and 25,100 visas have been issued respectively.

Here is everything we know about how the scheme works and how you can get involved:

What is it?

The sponsorship scheme, called the Homes for Ukraine programme, gives British individuals, charities, businesses and community groups the opportunity to offer rooms to those escaping the conflict.

Those who enter the UK through this new route will be allowed to stay with members of the public for at least six months. Sponsored Ukrainians will be granted three years’ leave to remain in the UK, with entitlement to work and access to public services.

How can I help?

If you are interested in offering a home to people fleeing Ukraine, you can record your interest via the gvoernment’s dedicated webpage.

Anyone with a room or home available can offer it to a Ukrainian individual or a family. However, you will have to undergo a vetting process and Ukrainian applicants will undergo security checks.

If you do host a refugee, you will receive a “thank you” payment of £350 per month, with additional payments available to support school-age children who will need to be accommodated within the education system.

Gove added that local authority areas will be entitled to more than £10,000 per Ukrainian refugee using the new route to the UK.

A similar sponsorship programme was launched in 2016 on a community level that allowed community groups including charities, faith groups, churches and businesses to help refugees resettle in the UK.

It was launched in response to the global refugee crisis - largely due to the Syrian Civil War - which saw 10.3 million people become newly displaced within the year. The UNHCR estimated that by the end of 2016, the global population of forcibly displaced people grew from 33.9 million in 1997 to a record high of 65.6 million in 2016.

Any member of the public could register through an online service to offer housing, work or support for resettling. These include helping people access public services, arranging transport and running errands, and welcoming people into the local area.

What security checks will be carried out?

The government has said that anyone who applies to sponsor a Ukrainian refugee will undergo “robus security and background checks”.

On Wednesday 13 April, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called on the UK government to ensure that Ukrainian women and children are not matched with single men as hosts.

It comes after an investigation by The Times revealed that female refugees were being inundated with inappropriate messages from single British men. Some of the men made sexual advances towards the female refugees.

A spokesperson for the UNHCR said: “Matching done without the appropriate oversight may lead to increasing the risks women may face, in addition to the trauma of displacement, family separation and violence already experienced.”

A government spokesperson said: “Attempts to exploit vulnerable people are truly despicable - this is why we have designed the Homes for Ukraine scheme to have specific safeguards in place.

“Councils must make at least one in-person visit to a sponsor’s property and they have a duty to make sure the guest is safe and well once they’ve arrived.”

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