Immediate Closure of Ukraine Family Scheme: Understanding the Recent Changes

Written by: Igor Prato Luna


Today, the UK government announced another statement of changes to the immigration rules, along with a memo explaining their rationale behind the changes. While some changes were anticipated, the statement of changes has implemented an immediate closure of the Ukraine Family Scheme, along with changes to other Ukraine schemes.

Closure of Ukraine Family Scheme

Effective 15:00 GMT on 19 February 2024, the Ukraine Family Scheme is closed to new applicants. Applications submitted before this time will be processed under the rules in force on 18 February 2024. From this time, the Ukraine Family Scheme route will be removed from the rules and will not be available to new applicants.

The Ukraine Family Scheme is a migration route that allows immediate and extended family members of British nationals, people settled in the UK, and certain others resident here, to come to the country.

Why the sudden closure without notice?

The lack of notice is a departure from the usual 21-day minimum notice given when changes to the Immigration Rules are laid in Parliament. The government has justified this on the grounds of ‘maintaining the orderly operation of the immigration system’. That is to say, the intention was to avoid a surge of applications ahead of any expected changes to the rules.

The government has further justified the closure by saying it primarily affects a small proportion of potentially eligible individuals, such as third-country nationals who are not immediate family members or who are not accompanying/joining a Ukrainian national in the UK.

The government points out that this aligns with the eligibility requirements of the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, which remains open for applications from most Ukrainian applicants and sponsors.

For those confident with legal language, the full statement of changes can be read here, and the explanatory memorandum where the Home Office explains their motivation can be found here.


We find the lack of notice given around the changes to the Ukraine Family Scheme very concerning. As noted by other publications, the manner of conduct of the Home Office leaves a sour taste, and feels contradictory to the original generous and inclusive intentions of the scheme.