Help with visas, etc
Matching and visas
Several charities are helping to match prospective hosts and guests – for example, Opora (who also help fund and organise travel to the UK).
Only your MP can check on the status of a visa application.
The visa application and DBS check/home inspection are separate, with the latter processes being handled by local authorities (they receive notification of visa applications through a database).
Notify Islington Council (or alternative) as soon as you have an arrival date: firstname.lastname@example.org. You will need to give them the names of your guests, ages and arrival date.
The Council has been highly supportive and is working hard to process DBS checks and home inspections quickly. Use that same email address as your ‘one stop shop’ for any questions for them.
There is Trainline information on free train and bus travel from Ukraine to other countries in Europe here.
Applying for the Biometric Residence Permit and extending visa status from 6 months to 3 years
Ukrainians arriving through the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme enter the country with a 6 months visa which they need to convert into 3 years right to remain by applying for a biometric residence permit within the first 6 months. Here’s what you need to know and the link to the application:
According to a section on the Opora website: “There are scenarios where Ukrainians arriving in the UK using the Homes for Ukraine scheme can end up effectively and practically homeless upon arrival (local authority checks taking place after guest arrival and accommodation being found unsuitable, failed DBS, etc). Or, the sponsor/guest relationship could simply fall apart.
This has been a point of criticism from Opora and many other charities, who highlighted the risks of not having sufficient resources allocated by the Government to conduct the checks before issuing visas.
There is currently no mechanism or guidance from the Government on how a guest can transfer to another checked sponsor once in the UK, beyond telling the sponsor to ‘contact their Local Authority’. This option understandably does not work for Ukrainian guests who may find themselves in an emergency situation.
Although we have not seen these cases in the Opora community, guests in these situations are being referred to us. The Opora platform can easily be used by these guests to find new sponsors, but the UK authorities urgently need to both establish a route and clarify formal guidance and process for re-registering visas to new sponsors in such situation, as despite many willing sponsors, there is still no practical way for transferring the visas/funding between Local Authorities.
In the meantime if you become aware of any cases where Ukrainian refugees are left without housing upon or after arrival in the UK - please get in touch with the Opora team (using email@example.com, use ‘emergency housing’ in the subject).”
The following charity helps residents in Islington and surrounding boroughs and can help with benefits claims: Islington People's Rights: www.ipradvice.org.uk.
There is a (useful and thorough) government document offering Welcome Guidance here.
It looks as if Russian and Ukrainian versions of the same info are also available via that link.
There is also a version in Ukrainian here – which is not official, so the accuracy of the translations cannot be vouched for!
The Ukrainian Institute in London also seems to have:
There is a letter from the Secretary of State to local authorities about school places and children arriving from Ukraine here.
See the separate section of this website for more.
Further info for hosts and guests
An organisation which is now called Amna, but was previously called the Refugee Trauma Initiative, provides free online training for people supporting refugees with trauma both on creating safe spaces to support refugees and 'help the helper' well-being support.
There is also this resource:
Guidance for supporting the mental health and wellbeing of displaced Ukrainians - Thrive LDN : Thrive LDN which includes guidance for sponsors on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of displaced Ukrainians arriving in the UK and access to training on trauma-informed practice in humanitarian crisis. The online training is aimed for professionals and volunteers in community and grassroots organisations who are supporting the response. Places are free and unlimited. The training programme offers workshops at three levels: foundation, intermediate and advanced.