18-month extensions
for Ukrainians in
the UK

Ukrainians who sought sanctuary in the UK in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion will be allowed to stay for longer, after the government announced a new visa extension scheme.

From early 2025, all those in the UK under one of the Ukraine visa schemes will be able to apply to stay here for an additional 18 months and continue to have the same rights to access work, benefits, healthcare, and education throughout their stay.

This means Ukrainians who came here on the first visas after fleeing their homes at the start of the war two years ago will be able to stay in the UK until September 2026.

The government is also making changes to other routes for Ukrainians which were introduced in response to the Russian invasion. When the conflict began in 2022, the UK established three visa schemes for Ukrainians: the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Homes for Ukraine Scheme and the Ukraine Extension Scheme.

Closure of the Ukraine Family Scheme

The Ukraine Family Scheme (UFS) is now closed to new applications. This scheme allowed eligible Ukrainian nationals to join family members in the UK.

The decision to close this route has been taken due to the length of time since the invasion of Ukraine and the government’s belief that the alternative Homes for Ukraine Scheme is more sustainable.

People who already have permission to enter or stay under the UFS will continue to hold that permission despite the closure of the route to new applicants.

Changes to the Homes for Ukraine Scheme

The Homes for Ukraine (HFU) Sponsorship Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members to come to the UK if they are being sponsored by a UK household.

Almost two years into the conflict, the government is changing the period of permission granted to new HFU applicants, including eligible minors, from 36 months to 18 months.

This will still provide assurance of a period of sanctuary in the UK and is more closely aligned with the period granted in the EU under the EU Temporary Protection Directive, which is one year at a time.

Changes to the Ukraine Extension Scheme

The Ukraine Extension Scheme is open to some Ukrainian nationals and their family members who have, or previously had, permission to be in the UK. Under the current rules, the Ukraine Extension Scheme will close to new applications for permission to stay on 16 May 2024.

If you have been given permission to be in the UK under one of the Ukraine Schemes, you may be able to apply for a further 18 months permission to stay in the UK under the new ‘Ukraine Permission Extension Scheme’.

How to apply for an extension

Applications will be open online from early 2025, with those who have come to the UK holding, or having held, permission to remain under the Homes for Ukraine, the Ukraine Family Scheme or the Ukraine Extension Scheme eligible.

Those who were granted leave outside the rules because they required sanctuary in the UK from Ukraine will also be eligible. Individuals will be able to make their applications within the last 3 months of an existing visa.

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