Our letter calling on the Home Secretary to reverse changes to the Ukraine Schemes and Heath and Care Worker visa

By Evie Breese - 28 February 2024

Days before the two-year anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the UK government announced a series of sweeping changes to the Ukraine schemes. On Monday 19 February, ministers announced that the Ukraine Family Scheme would close with immediate effect, and the eligibility criteria for sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme would be tightened, allowing only British, Irish or citizens settled in the UK to sponsor Ukrainians. These changes undoubtedly make it more difficult for Ukrainians to come to the UK, but the speed at which they were implemented also casts doubt on their legitimacy.

As a result, immigration lawyers at the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) and the Work Rights Centre have written to the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, arguing that because ministers broke parliamentary procedure to bring in changes to the Ukraine Schemes without the standard 21-day consultation period, they should be annulled. 

Alongside ILPA, “we are concerned that this action undermines democratic procedures of accountability and any sense of legal certainty, stability, and predictability. We disagree with the Home Office’s assessment: this course of action  is neither justified nor proportionate.”

In the same Statement of Changes, ministers announced that overseas care workers on the Health and Care Worker visa route would no longer be able to bring dependants, effective from 11 March. There are real fears that the visa changes will make migrant care workers more vulnerable to exploitation by forcing them to acquiesce to exploitative work conditions or face destitution if they choose to leave dodgy employers. This is because many workers rely on the additional financial stability provided by their dependants, who often also work in sectors like social care - without this support, workers will be left with few practical options but to continue working in exploitative conditions.

Ministers argued that the dependant ban has not been the subject of a formal public consultation, “as this would be disproportionate given the nature of the changes.” However, we argue that banning Health and Care Workers from bringing their dependants is of fundamental importance and public interest because it will “come at the cost of social care in the UK suffering from further shortages and capacity issues”. 

As we await the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee’s report on the government’s changes, this letter is an urgent call to the  Home Secretary to reconsider his proposals that will only cause further hardship for Ukrainians and migrant carers alike.

Download the full letter here. 

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