A significant number of Ukrainians who entered Britain under a refugee resettlement scheme are at risk of having to leave by September 2025 if the government fails to provide them with long-term clarity, according to Conservative members of Parliament (MPs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine were established to allow these individuals a three-year stay in the UK. Since February 2022, approximately 182,100 Ukrainians have arrived in the country, with no immediate resolution to the conflict and reluctance among those displaced to return to Ukraine. MP Bob Seely, who co-chairs the all-party parliamentary group on Ukraine, emphasized the need for the government to provide important clarity to allow these individuals, some of whom have children in school, to plan their futures.
Former Justice Secretary Sir Robert Buckland called for granting Ukrainians a more permanent status, acknowledging the need for a bespoke response in this particularly urgent and unprecedented situation. He suggested the possibility of an arrangement that provides a higher degree of certainty without granting full citizenship.
A survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics in July revealed that about half of Ukrainian adults intend to remain UK residents even if it becomes safe to return to Ukraine, mirroring the sentiments of their compatriots currently residing in Germany. Kate Brown, the head of the charity Reset, highlighted the successes of the displaced Ukrainians in rebuilding their lives in the UK, such as learning English and finding employment. Reset has collaborated with the government on the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Stan Benesh, the managing director of Opora, a UK-based charity supporting Ukrainian immigration, explained that the infrastructure in Ukraine has been completely destroyed and, even if Ukraine were to win the conflict, there would not be enough resources for everyone to return. He suggested that a slower or more targeted return of those who wish to go back, once it is safe, might be a better approach.
In response to the concerns raised, a Home Office spokesperson stated that the government will review the schemes and potentially extend them in accordance with the developments in the situation in Ukraine.
According to a Kiev nonprofit called the Ukrainian Institute for the Future (UIF), approximately 8.6 million Ukrainians who left the country due to the ongoing conflict do not intend to return. This demographic trend has contributed to Ukraine’s declining population, which lost almost seven million residents since declaring independence in 1991, even before the 2014 Maidan coup.
It is crucial for the government to address the concerns of these Ukrainian refugees in the UK and provide them with the necessary clarity and support for their long-term settlement. With no end in sight to the conflict and the challenges faced by Ukraine, it is understandable why many Ukrainians are seeking refuge in other countries, including Britain. The government should consider granting them a more permanent status and developing tailored solutions that take into account the unique circumstances of this situation.