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Homeless help for people affected by the war in Ukraine

Posted on 06/05/22 in Housing Matters

Homeless help for people affected by the war in Ukraine

Information on eligibility for homelessness assistance for people affected by the war in Ukraine, including the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine.

Updated on 6 May 2022 following the launch of the Ukraine Extension Scheme.

Support for people fleeing the conflict 

People who have fled Ukraine because of the conflict might need to access housing or homelessness support from a local authority. 

Some groups of people are excluded from homelessness assistance based on their immigration and residence status. This can affect people who have recently arrived or returned to the UK. 

This article sets out the information currently available on eligibility for homelessness assistance for people who have come to the UK as a result of the war in Ukraine.

People granted leave under the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, or the Ukraine Extension Scheme are eligible for homelessness assistance. They do not need to be habitually resident. 

The article will be updated with any changes as the situation develops.

Immigration advice and information

The Ukraine Advice Project is a free service that connects people fleeing the war in Ukraine with free immigration advice from qualified and regulated lawyers.

Ukrainian citizens and others fleeing the conflict can contact projectu@dlapiper.com with details of their circumstances and what advice they need.

Gov.uk has guidance on support available to Ukrainian nationals and their family members.

The Free Movement website has published a useful article on options for Ukrainians seeking refuge in the UK.

Homeless applications and immigration conditions

If a person who has come to the UK as a result of the war in Ukraine applies as homeless, the local authority must investigate whether they meet immigration and residence conditions. 

The local authority must accept a homeless application and start making inquiries if there is reason to believe a person is:

  • homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days
  • eligible based on their immigration and residence status

If the authority also has reason to believe they have a priority need (for example if they have children or are vulnerable) then it must secure emergency accommodation while carrying out inquiries. 

Reason to believe is a low threshold and does not require proof. Local authorities should be mindful of the fact that people who have fled their home and country as a result of conflict might not have relevant documents. 

If the authority is satisfied that the person is eligible and homeless it must take reasonable steps to help the person secure accommodation. 

Homelessness inquiries should be carried out with humanity and care. Local authorities should ensure that staff are able to deal with applicants in a sensitive manner.

Eligibility for homeless help: the Ukraine Family Scheme, Sponsorship Scheme and Extension Scheme

There are currently three schemes under which a person affected by the conflict in Ukraine can be granted leave: the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Homes For Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, and the Ukraine Extension Scheme.

A person given leave under one of these schemes is eligible for homelessness assistance. They do not need to be habitually resident. 

People should seek specialist immigration advice for guidance on which scheme to apply for.

Changes to the eligibility regulations 

The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) England Regulations have been amended to include a new category of people who are eligible for homelessness assistance.

People who left Ukraine because of the Russian invasion that began on 24 February 2022 are eligible for assistance if they:

  • were residing in Ukraine immediately before 1st January 2022
  • have been given leave in accordance with the Immigration Rules
  • are not subject to a no recourse to public funds condition 

From 30 March 2022, leave under the Ukraine Family Scheme, the Homes for Ukraine Scheme and the Ukraine Extension Scheme is leave within the immigration rules. 

Leave granted before 30 March was leave outside the rules. A person granted leave outside the rules is eligible for homelessness assistance unless they are subject to a no recourse to public funds (NRFP) condition. A person given leave under either scheme before 30 March is also eligible for assistance.

The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility)(Wales) Regulations 2014 has been amended to include a new category of people eligible for homelessness assistance in Wales. People who left Ukraine because of the Russian invasion are eligible if they have been given leave by virtue of Appendix Ukraine Scheme of the Immigration Rules.

The Ukrainian Family Scheme

The Ukraine Family Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members can apply to join a family member living in the UK. The family member can be either:

  • a British national
  • someone settled in the UK - for example, with indefinite leave to remain, settled status or proof of permanent residence
  • someone from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland who has pre-settled status and started living in the UK before 1 January 2021
  • someone with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK

Applicants can be granted leave to enter the UK for up to three years with rights to work, study, and access public funds.

People who might qualify for this scheme can call a free helpline +44 808 164 8810 (0808 164 8810 in the UK).

Homes for Ukraine

The Homes for Ukraine scheme allows sponsors living in the UK to provide a home for Ukrainian individuals or families.

The scheme launched on 18 March 2022 and is open to Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members. 

Sponsors can be organisations or individuals of any nationality, providing they have at least six months leave to remain in the UK.

The accommodation can be a spare room or self contained accommodation. It must be available for at least 6 months, fit for people to live in, and suitable for the number of people.

The government has published frequently asked questions on the scheme.

The guidance states that sponsors should not charge rent. They will be offered a ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month for up to 12 months.

Potential sponsors can register their interest on Gov.uk.

The Ukraine Extension Scheme

The Ukraine Extension Scheme launched on 3 May 2022 and is open to Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members. 

Applicants can be granted leave for up to three years with rights to work, study and access public funds. 

The person must have had permission to enter or stay in the UK on 18 March 2022, unless they were in the UK with permission to enter or stay immediately before 1 January 2022 and their permission has since expired.

People who might qualify for this scheme can call a free helpline +44 808 164 8810 (0808 164 8810 in the UK).

Other circumstances where a person is eligible for homelessness assistance

A person who has been affected by the war in Ukraine might come under another category of people who are eligible. These include someone with:

  • refugee status
  • indefinite leave to remain
  • humanitarian protection
  • leave granted under Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention
  • EU settled status
  • EU pre-settled status who is exercising a right to reside

Some family members of people with EU settled and pre-settled status might be entitled to join them in the UK. People in this situation should get immigration advice.

You can find out more about who is eligible for homelessness assistance on Shelter Legal: People from abroad who are eligible for homeless assistance.

Returning British citizens and people with settled status

Some groups of people are only eligible for homelessness assistance if they are habitually resident in the Common Travel Area. These include:

  • British Citizens
  • Irish Citizens
  • people with indefinite leave to remain
  • people with EU settled status

The Common Travel area is the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland.

From 22 March 2022, people who left Ukraine in connection with the Russia invasion are not required to be habitually resident. 

Find out more about habitual residence on Shelter Legal: Habitual residence test for homelessness assistance.

Claiming asylum

A person who is in the UK might be able to claim asylum if they would be in danger in the country where they are from or normally live.

Anyone affected by the war in Ukraine who is considering claiming asylum should get immigration advice.

A person claiming asylum is not eligible for homelessness assistance. They might be entitled to support from UK Visas and Immigration.

Find out more about asylum support on GOV.UK.

Further resources

Shelter Legal

Shelter Legal is an online guide to housing law for professionals. It covers topics such as homeless applications, social housing and benefits.

Homeless application process provides an overview of the process of making a homeless application to a local authority.

People from abroad who are eligible for homelessness assistance sets out the categories of people who can access homelessness help

Categories of priority need sets out who has a priority need for accommodation when applying as homeless.

Shelter Housing Advice 

Shelter's housing advice pages for the public have information on homelessness, renting, benefits, repairs and eviction.

The advice is clear, accurate and easy to understand. Pages can be printed and shared by email.

Get help from the council is a step by step guide for anyone who is homeless or facing homelessness in the next 8 weeks.

Immigration and residence conditions provides information on who qualifies for homeless help.

Legislation

The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) England Regulations 2006

The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (Wales) Regulations 2014

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