Employing Ukrainian Refugees - Part One: Routes to Employment

By Andrew Willis
19 Apr 2022
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In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many UK businesses have stepped up to help.

Marks & Spencer, Lush, and PwC, just to name a few, are offering jobs to Ukrainian refugees. If you’re in a position where you would like to provide work, but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you covered.

Over the next few weeks, Croner will be providing support and guidance on the situation. In this first part of the series, we’ll be exploring the different processes and schemes to get a Ukrainian national into work. This includes the criteria for employment and the checks you should conduct to ensure your business meets current employment law.

If you need immediate advice on employing a Ukrainian national, you can speak to an employment law expert today on 01455 858 132.

The situation so far

Since the crisis began the government has introduced several schemes to help refugees settle and find work in the UK. Mostly, these schemes revolve around the individual being sponsored by someone. This may be where some confusion occurs, as there already existing rules around sponsorship and immigration. However, you don’t have to sponsor in the usual way. You can ‘sponsor’ Ukrainians by complying with the necessary requirements. The main aspect of this is providing accommodation for at least 6 months.

We’ll explain how this works in greater detail as we explore each of the schemes providing a route to the UK for Ukrainian nationals.

The three schemes

Ukraine Family Scheme

British citizens are able to sponsor Ukrainian nationals who are immediate or extended family members.

Individuals settled in the UK may also sponsor family members, so long as they meet the criteria. For a settled individual to sponsor a family member, they must:

  • Have indefinite leave to remain; or
  • Have settled status*; or
  • Have proof of permanent residence; or
  • Have refuges status or humanitarian protection in the UK.

*European individuals can sponsor with pre-settled status.

The individual they sponsor must have been a resident in Ukraine prior to 1st January 2022.

How does it work?

The application process is different depending on whether it comes from inside or outside of the UK.

Let’s start with outside.

If the refugee has a valid Ukrainian passport, and has been accepted through the family scheme, they’ll receive a letter confirming they have permission to travel to the UK without a UK visa. On arrival they’ll be issues with a six-month entry stamp. This is evidence of their right to work, study, and claim benefits in the UK.

Within six months of arrival, the individual needs to submit their biometric information to extend their stay up to three years. If they choose to do this, they’ll receive a biometric residence permit (BRP). If you employ the individual, you should conduct a right to work check to ensure they have the BRP. A further check will be needed at the 3 year point to ensure they still have the right to work in the UK.

If the application is done inside the UK, the process is similar. The individual must complete an online application. Once this is done, they must go to a Visa Application Services service point to get their biometric information taken. This will provide the applicant with a BRP and you must follow the same schedule for right to work checks following this.

Get started with the Ukraine Family Scheme visa today.

 

employing Ukrainian refugees

 

Homes for Ukraine Scheme

In short, this scheme allows both businesses and individuals to sponsor a named contact, or contacts, and provide them housing for at least six months.

How does it work?

How the process works depends on whether you already have a named contact to sponsor. If you do, you must complete a visa application with details of the refugee and your business. The sponsored contact must have been living in Ukraine on or immediately before 1st January 2022, and currently be outside of the UK.

Once the application is processed, the individual will receive a letter confirming they may travel to the UK without a visa. The rest of the process will be the same as the Family Scheme. They’ll receive a stamp giving them to right to work in the UK for six months. The individual will need to submit their biometric information to extend their stay up to 3 years via a BRP. As an employer you should conduct right to work checks during these deadlines.

If you don’t have a named contact, you can register your interest in being a sponsor, here: https://www.gov.uk/register-interest-homes-ukraine.

If you do choose to sponsor an individual through this scheme, you must provide accommodation for them for at least 6 months. An offer of work is not sufficient on its own. The accommodation must meet certain standards. These are:

  • 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

Standard Visa Scheme

If an individual cannot apply through one of the other schemes, they may take this route instead. If you are already a licensed sponsor, you may recruit Ukrainian national by allocating a certificate of sponsorship so they can work under a Skilled Worker visa. The vacancy itself would need to comply with the usual criteria involved in the points-based system.

For more information on this, read our article on employing foreign nationals here.

Extending existing visas

Ukrainian nationals already working in the UK have the opportunity to extend their current visas. If the individual had permission to stay in the UK on, or before, 18th March 2022, they’ll be able to do this visa the Ukraine Extension Scheme. If their permission to stay has expired since 1st January 2022, they’ll still be able to apply.

For further information on this, speak to one of our employment law experts on 01455 858 132.

How to offer work to Ukrainian refugees

If you are an employer, and want to offer work to Ukrainian nationals, you start by informing the Home Office.

This is separate from the Homes for Ukraine scheme. That means there is no obligation for you to provide accommodation to the individuals you employ. You can offer full time, part time, or voluntary roles. Whatever vacancies you do offer, the individual(s) must have the right to work in the UK. This means doing the appropriate checks.

If you wish to offer work, you should send an email to offerwork@homeoffice.gov.uk and provide this information:

  • your company name and contact details
  • how many roles you have available
  • the location of the role (if it’s local or national)
  • a job description
  • if the role is part-time, full-time or a different working pattern
  • if English language qualifications are needed
  • any support you can offer - for example, relocation packages, mentoring or English lessons

Support employing Ukrainian nationals

If you have questions regarding sponsorship, the right to work in the UK, or hiring foreign nationals, we can provide expert advice. On consultants deal with recruitment and employment issues daily.

Speak to one of them today on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is the senior manager of the Litigation and Employment Department and assumes additional responsibility for managing Croner’s office based telephone HR advisory teams, who specialise in employment law, HR and commercial legal advice for small & large organisations across the United Kingdom.

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