Summary of the ‘Home for Ukraine’ Scheme

Asylum Welcome is working with Oxfordshire County Council and the five District Councils within Oxfordshire to help provide the best possible experience for Ukrainians coming to the region under the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme. We will keep updating this page to reflect the latest government guidance.

The ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme opened for applications on 18th March. Under this scheme, UK residents are able to sponsor individuals or families to stay with them (either in their home, or in another property) for a minimum of 6 months. The government has launched this website where individuals or community groups can register interest in hosting. It is expected that the scheme will go through multiple phases. The first phase is open to individual members of the public to sponsor guests from Ukraine. In later phases, organisations and community groups will be able to sponsor multiple guests. The government says there will be no cap or upper limit on the number of Ukrainians who can come under the scheme. Like the ongoing Ukrainian Family Scheme, the Homes for Ukraine programme requires applicants to obtain a visa before arrival in the UK.

Guidance and Resources

Anyone with at least six months leave to remain in the UK can apply as a sponsor. In the ‘first phase’ of the scheme, you will need the details of a Ukrainian individual or family you wish to sponsor. Once both parties have agreed the arrangement, either the guest or the sponsor should fill in a single visa application form, including all the details of both guest and sponsor. One application is required on behalf of every individual coming to the UK. Applicants can apply from Ukraine or a third country but not from inside the UK. A lead sponsor will be needed for each household. For example, where a couple has applied to sponsor, one of them should be designated as ‘lead sponsor’. Once you apply, the government will contact you with additional information and instructions. Security checks (Police National Computer checks, criminal records and Warning Index checks) will be made by the Home Office on the sponsor, all the other adults in the sponsor’s household, and the guest, before the guest is issued with a permit to travel.

Useful guidance documents have been published by a variety of sources:

Local information

Toolkits and guidance for sponsors

Visa application guidance

  • Guidance on filling in the Homes for Ukraine visa application, including what information is required, is available here.
  • Opora has developed a guide for guests and sponsors in English and Ukrainian, including a list of the questions asked in the visa application.

Other resources

Information for Potential Sponsors

Matching options

  • For those local to Charlbury, Charlbury Refugee Action Group have a form for registering your interest in hosting here.
  • The Diocese of Oxford are working with Citizens UK on matching in the area. Their sponsorship sign-up is here.
  • Reset is the only matching site currently endorsed by the UK government. It launched its matching service on 1st April.
  • Refugees at Home, an established hosting organisation, are also assessing host families and matching.
  • Other matching sites include Opora and EU4UA.
  • Details of other matching options are available on Ukrainian London’s website.
  • Airbnb have developed a service on their site for hosting Ukrainian refugees.
  • These are in addition to the government’s website for registering interest in hosting here.
We have successfully worked with  a small volunteer run, Cambridge based charity to match several guests to hosts in Oxfordshire. https://www.cambridge4ukraine.uk/. If you may be interested in hosting and need help with making a match, do contact them  via their website or email :
liliya.pochkun@gmail.com. They are in contact with a number of families needing hosting but as well as a general matching service, are most urgently looking for hosts for several larger families, needing three rooms, and for families with pets.  Do please contact Liliya as soon as possible to discuss further and explore whether this might work for you.

We urge both sponsors and guests to be cautious about sharing their information through matching websites, particularly those run by unregistered organisations, and about organising matches through social media.

What counts as ‘suitable accommodation’?

Suitable accommodation could be a spare room or separate self-contained residential accommodation that is unoccupied. The accommodation must be available for at least six months, be fit for people to live in (safe, heated and free from health hazards), with adequate access to bathroom and kitchen facilities, and suitable for the number of people to be accommodated. A sofa bed in a living room or other shared space would not be considered suitable.

Two people should not be accommodated in one room unless they are: adult cohabiting partners; a parent and child; two siblings of the same gender if aged over 10; two siblings regardless of gender if aged under 10. Individuals who didn’t previously know each other should not be given the same room.

The government is also requiring that accommodation:

  • be kept clean and in a reasonable state;
  • have adequate kitchen and bathroom space;
  • have access to drinking water;
  • have a working smoke detector on each floor of the property and other fire safety precautions suitable for the building e.g. fire doors or escape routes as appropriate (further information on making a home safe from fire;
  • have a working carbon monoxide detector in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire, wood burning stove);
  • have sufficient heating to keep the property at a comfortable temperature;
  • have safe gas appliances, fittings and flues and have undertaken a Gas Safety check within the last year (see more information);
  • have safe and working electrics, which a qualified electrician can help with if you are unsure;
  • be almost entirely free of damp or mould;
  • have doors and windows at entry level that lock properly;
  • be easy and safe to move around in, without excessively steep staircases that may cause harm.

Post-arrival

The council will have the right to make safeguarding checks on guests and inspect your accommodation. The council must make at least one in-person visit to you either before or shortly after the guest has arrived, to confirm that the accommodation is suitable and the guest is well and that there are no serious safeguarding or welfare concerns. The council will also undertake basic DBS checks on all adults in the sponsor household. In households where there are incoming arrivals who are children and/or vulnerable adults, an enhanced DBS check with barred lists check will be required for all adults in the sponsor household.

Sponsors will be provided with the appropriate DBS form and will need to complete it. DBS checks are to be completed prior to or as soon as possible after the guest’s arrival. Visa approval is not dependent on the completion of a DBS check. If the DBS checks raise an issue then the guests are removed by the LA. Sponsors will not need to pay for the checks, this will be covered by the council.

As well committing to provide suitable accommodation for a minimum of sixth months, as the sponsor, you will be required to stay in regular contact with your guest prior to their arrival to help organise and coordinate their arrival in the UK, meet them on arrival, and facilitate transfer to their accommodation. Guests arriving in the country will be eligible for a single onward journey via national rail, bus, light rail, and coach. This will be free of charge to anywhere in England, Scotland and Wales. They will only need to show their Ukrainian passport and boarding pass or ticket showing arrival into the country within the last 48 hours. For more information see the Ukrainian Displaced Persons Travel Scheme.

Once your guests arrive, the first thing to do will be to make sure they are comfortable in their accommodation and set up with the basics. They should have enough food and essential supplies like toiletries and it’s worth checking that they’ve got access to a mobile phone and the internet so they can stay in touch with family and friends. As it’s likely that they will be unfamiliar with your local area, you can provide them with some practical advice on things like getting to and from your home, where the local shops are, and where to catch buses and trains. As a sponsor, you’re not expected to provide transport for your guests throughout their stay.

You will be expected to signpost your guest to public services (perhaps help them apply for Universal Credit) and assist them with tasks such as registering with a local GP surgery and setting up a bank account. The council is responsible for support guests to access local Jobcentre Plus appointments for benefit assessments and job-seeking, but you will likely have a part to play in this. You are not required to provide food for your guests, but you may wish to do so, particularly at the beginning of their stay.

You can choose whether to ask guests to pay a reasonable and proportionate contribution (according to use) for water, gas and electricity consumed or supplied to the accommodation or to any shared facilities. With self-contained accommodation, you should agree with your guest who will pay Council Tax.

Sponsors will receive an optional ‘thank you’ payment of £350/month per residence (regardless of the number of guests), administered by the council. Sponsors will continue to receive payments for as long as they sponsor somebody and for up to 12 months. This is not considered income, so will not affect income tax, council tax, mortgage payments, UC or other income thresholds. No payments will be made until the council has checked your property.

If for any reason you need to end the sponsorship arrangement early, sponsors should inform the local council as soon as possible.

After six months

Sponsor and guest may choose to continue the hosting relationship beyond the initial six months. Sponsors should aim to give notice two months before the end of the 6 months (or with 2 months’ notice before any later date) if they do not want the sponsorship to continue.

Guests will have access to public funds and will be able to rent a property like anyone else. If they need to, they’ll be able to claim the housing part of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. The UK Government has useful information on renting property which is available in the How to Rent Guide. If guests need further support, the local authority can support them in finding alternative accommodation.

Information for Ukrainian Guests

Applications to the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ Scheme can be made via this link; full details of the sponsor(s) must be provided as part of this application. The online application form is also an application for a biometric immigration document. It is free to make an application, the immigration health surcharge, biometric enrolment fee and TB test do not apply. For Ukrainians who need assistance with the application process, there is a free 24/7 helpline +44 808 164 8810 (0808 164 8810 or +44 (0)175 390 7510 for those in the UK).

To apply to the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme you must be Ukrainian, or the immediate family member of a Ukrainian national, who:

  • had been residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022 (including those who have now left Ukraine)
  • is currently outside the UK
  • has a UK-based sponsor who is eligible for the Homes for Ukraine Scheme

Ukrainians arriving in the UK under this scheme do not have to have family ties in the UK. They also do not need to have a particular level of English. Individuals arriving under this scheme will be allowed to stay in the UK for up to three years. They will be able to work and study in the UK, and will have access to benefits and local authority support. This may include:

  • Universal Credit – a payment for those of working age, to help with your living costs if you’re on a low income. You could be working (including self-employed or part time) or be out of work;
  • Pension Credit – extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age which is 66 in the UK and on a low income;
  • Disability benefits – extra money to help with additional costs for those who have a long term physical or mental health condition or disability;
  • Carer’s Allowance – extra money if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week.
  • Child Benefit – extra money to help with the cost of raising a child.

The government will provide each local authority with £10,500 per resettled refugee to cover local services, such as education, healthcare and social services (with additional funds released for resettled children to attend school).

The local council will make one £200 initial payment to each guest for subsistence costs. Working age guests will be able to apply to receive Universal Credit and will be able to apply for advance payments where eligible. Pension-age guests will have access to State Pension Credit and Housing Benefit provided they meet eligibility criteria.

Instructions for Ukrainians with international passports

If the applicant holds a valid Ukrainian international passport or an expired Ukrainian international passport with a formal extension stamp issued by the Ukrainian government, the applicant will not need to attend an appointment at a visa application centre (VAC) to give their biometric information.

The applicant must upload a copy of their Ukrainian international passport. If the applicant is applying with an expired Ukrainian international passport, they must upload a copy of the page where the formal extension stamp issued by the Ukrainian government is shown.

They must also provide documents that show the identity of the UK-based sponsor. This may include the sponsor’s passport, driving licence, national identity card, refugee travel document or biometric residence permit. The applicant should also provide any documents that show they were residing in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022. The applicant should download the document uploading app (either TLS or VFS) in order to upload their documents. It is not mandatory to provide these documents but it may help support the application.

Once the application has been processed, the applicant will receive an official permission letter from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) confirming that they can travel to the UK. The permission letter will allow the applicant to board a plane or other form of transport to the UK. Applicants should not travel to the UK until they have received an official permission letter.

On arrival in the UK, applicants should show their permission letter to UK Border Force officers, who will provide a 6-month entry stamp. The 6-month entry stamp is evidence of right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK.

Guests arriving in the country will be eligible for a single onward journey via national rail, bus, light rail, and coach. This will be free of charge to anywhere in England, Scotland and Wales. Eurostar is offering free travel to London from their European stations.

New arrivals can start the process to provide their biometric information by completing this  online form. Once these details have been received, the new arrival will be told how to provide their biometric information. This does not need to be done as soon as new arrivals reach the UK, but biometrics do need to be provided before the 6 months leave that has been granted ends.

Instructions for Ukrainians without international passports

Applicants without valid Ukrainian international passports will need to book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre (VAC). This includes those with Ukrainian domestic passports or ID cards.

During the application process, applicants will be asked to provide one or more of the following: Ukrainian National identity card, a combination of official documents (e.g. a photo driving licence and birth certificate), and an emergency certificate issued by a Ukrainian authority since March 2022. They must also provide documents that show the identity of the UK-based sponsor. It is not mandatory to provide these documents but it may help support the application. The applicant should download the document uploading app (either TLS or VFS) in order to upload their documents.

Applicants without passports must have their photograph and fingerprints taken at a VAC. Children under the age of 5 who do not hold a valid Ukrainian international passport will not have their fingerprints taken but will still need to book and attend a VAC appointment and have a digital photograph taken.

VACs in Ukraine are currently closed. Applicants can apply at a VAC in any country if they are able to travel safely. There is a temporary VAC open in Rzeszow, Poland. Applicants must complete their online application and book an appointment before attending the Rzeszow VAC – walk-in appointments are no longer accepted. VACs are currently operating in European cities including Budapest, Chisinau, Warsaw, Bucharest and Paris.

There is currently no clear timeframe within which an applicant should expect a decision to be made on their application. Those who attend a VAC to give biometrics will be granted a visa if their application is accepted. It appears that those granted a visa prior to arrival in the UK will not need to give their biometrics again within six months of arriving

Bringing items into the UK

The government has released guidance on bringing personal items to the UK as a Ukrainian refugee. Arrivals will not have to stop at customs unless they arrive with a personal vehicle, a pet, prohibited or restricted goods or £10,000 or more in cash (or the equivalent in another currency) Those who arrive in personals vehicle will not need to register or tax their vehicle in the UK if they arrive as a refugee and the vehicle is registered and taxed in its home country and the vehicle is used in the UK for no more than 6 months. After six months, the vehicle must be registered and taxed.

Those who are planning on arriving with pets must call 03000 200 301 and press 2 to speak to an adviser, or email: pettravel@apha.gov.uk. Those who arrive with prohibited or restricted goods (including drugs, weapons, endangered animals, indecent or obscene materials) must speak with a customs officer on arrival. Those who arrive in the UK with £10,000 or more in cash (or the equivalent in other currencies), must tell a customs officer when they arrive. They do not need to do anything if they bring in cash under £10,000 (or equivalent).

Education

All children and young people arriving under these schemes have the right to access education and childcare whilst in the UK. The council can advise parents on the school application process, where vacancies exist and how to apply.

The Welcome Pack for those arriving from Ukraine contains advice on accessing education and childcare, in the section ‘Childcare and Education Services’. See more general advice on school admissions.

Further Education 

All Ukrainian adults and their family members supported through the Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme are immediately eligible for FE 19+ funding and are exempt from the 3-year residency requirement as per the current AEB funding rules.

Individuals applying for these schemes from outside the UK will receive an official permission letter from Home Office confirming that they can travel to the UK. When they arrive in the UK with the permission letter, the UK Border Force officers will endorse their passport with a 6-month entry stamp. The 6-month entry stamp will be evidence of their right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK. Within 6 months of their arrival in the UK, they will be required to submit their biometrics to extend their stay for up to 3 years and will be issued a biometric residence permit (BRP), as evidence of their immigration status.

Individuals applying for these schemes from inside the UK will need to book and attend an appointment at the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services service point where they will need to give their biometric information to get a BRP. There may be some delays in the issue of the Home Office BRP. In these cases all individuals will be issued with a document showing proof of Home Office immigration status.

The government has produced an enquiry form.