My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a statement of changes in immigration rules.
The changes reflect amendments to the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme to allow children who are not applying with, or to join, their parent or legal guardian in the UK to qualify for a visa.
As the Government announced on 22 June 2022, these changes are designed to ensure, where a Ukrainian parent or legal guardian confirms it is their child’s best interests for the child to come to the UK without them, there is a route for them.
In these cases, the sponsor will need to give a greater commitment to support the child for three years or until the child turns 18 (so long as the sponsorship lasts at least six months), whichever is soonest. The local authority will conduct safeguarding checks and pre-approval of the sponsor before the visa application can be made, and there will need to be parental consent which, in line with the Ukrainian Government’s requirements, will need to be certified by an authority approved by the Ukrainian Government.
There have already been applications from children travelling without their parents. These applications were on hold while the Government carefully worked through the challenges around allowing children to travel without a parent. On 15 July the Home Office published a concession to the immigration rules to allow these cases to be prioritised once they have the necessary approval from the local authority.
We have also introduced an additional safeguarding requirement to ensure if a sponsor is not approved by the local authority under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, they cannot sponsor the same or another child under this scheme or the Ukraine family scheme.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme will be opened to new child applicants applying without their parents or legal guardians on 10 August.