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Homes for Ukraine scheme to begin processing applications from unaccompanied children

The Homes for Ukraine scheme will allow children and minors under the age of 18 who have already applied through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme to come to the UK without a parent or guardian, the government has announced.

The changes will enable a child to apply for a visa if they have proof of parental consent. This must be certified by an authority approved by the Ukraine government, such as the Ukrainian consul abroad.

Extensive sponsor checks will also be carried out by local authorities ahead of any visa being granted, with councils able to veto any sponsor arrangements they deem unsuitable. The sponsor should also, except in exceptional circumstances, be someone who is personally known to the parents.

This policy will initially apply to the 1,000 children who have already applied but are unable to travel as they are not travelling or reuniting with a parent or guardian.

In recognition of the need to give children greater security, sponsors will be asked to commit to hosting for up to three years, or until they are aged 18 and the sponsorship has lasted six months – in line with the existing commitment for sponsors of adults or parents with their children.

Further security checks will be introduced for this cohort to ensure the wellbeing and safety of minors. DBS checks must be completed on the sponsor and adults in the sponsor household, before any visa is issued by the Home Office.

In cases where a sponsor is not related to the child, an enhanced DBS with barred list check will be required in advance of issuing the visa.

Councils will have the ability to veto a sponsor if they deem them unsuitable and will be asked to undertake regular checks on the child. Councils will be able to use existing statutory powers to protect the child's wellbeing where there are concerns.

Families hosting a child under the Homes for Ukraine scheme will receive £350 a month as a 'thank you' payment and all those arriving under the scheme will receive full access to education, healthcare and public services. Local authorities will receive £10,500 per child, as well as additional government funding to provide education and childcare services for children on a per pupil basis.

A Westminster Hall debate on the Homes for Ukraine scheme and child refugees took place on 22 June 2022. For the Hansard record of the debate, click here.

For more details about the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, click here. For comment by the Association of Directors of Children's Services, click here.