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PBSC presses Home Office to ease visa rules for Ukrainians

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 10 Mar 2022

The Professional and Business Services Council (PBSC) has written a letter to the Home Secretary urging her to go further in relaxing visa rules for Ukrainian refugees.

The PBSC has called for Ukraine to be removed from the Immigration Rules Appendix Visa National List to allow Ukrainian nationals to enter the UK without a visa.

In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, PBSC co-Chair Dr Alan Belfield FREng welcomed the 1 March announcement for continued immigration support for people impacted by the war in Ukraine, and the introduction of the Ukraine Family Scheme on 4 March, but reiterates the PBSC’s request for this to go further. 

In addition to visa-free entry for Ukrainians, the PBSC wants to see those arriving on visitor visas to be allowed to switch to family or PBS routes, in line with Ukrainian nationals already in the UK. Other requests include:

  • Extend the policy of allowing Ukrainian nationals already in the UK to extend or switch their stay to all other nationals unable to return to Ukraine or Russia due to the conflict. 
  • Advise on the acceptability of alternative documents to passports to allow entry in the circumstances. 
  • Advise on the acceptability of alternative documents to passports for those who reach a safe third country but wish to travel onwards to the UK under an immigration route, but do not have the required documentation. 
  • Advise on the position for those whose documents (including passports) are held in UK consulates/application processing centres. 
  • Reassure regular Russian national visa holders in the UK that, other than as required through international sanctions, there will be no adverse impact on their or their families’ immigration status in the UK.

“Noting both the escalation in the situation and the continued evacuation of impacted nationals, not only in Ukraine but also in Russia, we are concerned that the immigration position of those who flee to their first safe location as a result of the crisis cross-border is precarious,” said Dr Belfield in the letter. 

“Many are entering their safe receiving country with visitor status. As such, while they may have valid UK immigration applications that could legitimately be made in those countries and decided under the UK’s Immigration Rules, the Rules (Section 28, Part 1 Immigration Rules) create a barrier to their lodging an application in those locations, as they hold visitor rather than residence status.”

The letter points out that there is precedent for discretion to be exercised within the rules, which is being used to allow Ukrainian nationals to make applications under the Family Scheme in Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and France.

The PBSC asks the Home Office to urgently extend and formalise the application of this discretion to allow all nationals impacted by the situation to apply for leave to enter the UK under the Immigration Rules from any location where they are lawfully present as a visitor for an initial period of three months, to be kept under close review. “This measure will greatly help in the sector’s efforts to support the safety and well-being of all impacted employees.”

PSBC Helpsheets

The Professional and Business Services Council have produced a series of factsheets to assist individuals or organisations working with Ukrainian refugees.

They can be found on the refugee support page of the PSBC's website.

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