Finding a UK Sponsor / Finding a Ukrainian to Sponsor

As a Ukrainian refugee, if you want to come to the UK, or if you are already in the UK and need a second sponsor, it is now quite difficult to find a sponsor. However, people are still looking for refugees to sponsor, so it is still possible and we provide a few options here that you can try.

Hosts are also able to register with various organisations or join relevant Facebook groups if they are looking to sponsor someone. There are still many refugees looking to get to a safe haven such as the UK, so don’t assume it’s too late to be a sponsor.

Here are some Government statistics showing how many visas have been granted in total across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as by each local council. It is updated every week.

Registering as a host on Government portals

Although the Government provides a portal for potential hosts to register their interest, note that this does not result in a refugee being found for you from Ukraine*. We found a number of people had this misconception and spent several weeks after registering waiting to be contacted by the Government before realising this.

It’s up to you as a would-be host to start the process of finding a specific person(s) via your contacts, social media groups or host / guest matching sites, and then apply for a visa together. The Government does not find you anyone, nor apply for their visa. YOU have to do this. Ukrainians cannot enter the UK without a visa.

The good news, however, is that it is very easy to find someone to sponsor, and many organisations or well-managed Facebook groups will have people that can help with the matching and visa application process. We have listed some of these on this webpage.

* Registering helped with the Scottish and Welsh ‘Super sponsor’ schemes, but these are now paused for new applications. Registering on this portal currently allows local councils to contact you if they have a guest who needs a new sponsor i.e. someone already in the UK with a valid Homes for Ukraine visa.

Registering as a host in Scotland

The Scottish Government has opened up a new link to allow potential hosts in Scotland to register their interest. The link can be found here: https://www.mygov.scot/homes-for-ukraine-scotland-super-sponsor-scheme.

At this point, we are not clear what this would actually result in, as in order to host someone who is already in the UK, it’s stated that you don’t need to register here, and you should contact your local council’s Homes for Ukraine team directly. We assume you will be matched with someone already here under the Supersponsor scheme, but who still hasn’t been matched with a sponsorm but this is not confirmed.

If you haven’t been matched with someone suitable after a few weeks, we suggest trying the other options mentioned here to find an alternative guest.

Matching through local groups or the local council

As an example of how to use your contacts effectively, you may have contacts through your workplace, church or school, or other guests already here, who know of Ukrainians in need of sponsors.

Your local refugee support groups may be worth contacting; many refugees already here can suggest someone else in need of help.

You can also get in touch with your local council, as they will have several families in urgent need of new sponsors.

In some cases, the original sponsor might have pulled out after the guest’s visa application was granted, but before they travelled to the UK, leaving them in a somewhat precarious and desperate position. The sponsor’s accommodation could have been found unsuitable on inspection by the council, also leaving the guest in a difficult situation.

In other cases, a guest may have needed more time with a sponsor in order to get established, or their arrangement with their original sponsor came to a premature end (this could be for a myriad of reasons, including sponsor life changes and plain old personality clashes). The advantage here is that much of the paperwork to do on arrival will already have been done, but you can still benefit from the Homes for Ukraine scheme and be set up as a host.

Finding a host / sponsor or refugee through matching websites

There are a number of websites that have been created to facilitate matching between potential hosts and guests. Some of these groups can help you with the online visa application process if required; however, this should only take about 2 hours to do if you’ve gathered all the necessary documents beforehand and is described here: Applying For A Visa From Ukraine.

The following organisations are referenced by the Government as ‘recognised providers’:

Here are some other matching websites and organisations that sometimes have available hosts:

Other ways to find a UK host / sponsor or Ukrainian refugee

Here are some of the many Facebook groups where Ukrainian refugees are looking for sponsors and where sponsors can occasionally be found. Some people are now also willing to host a second time around, as their original guests have been able to move on. You will need to be admitted by the group admins, so these links will not work; search by the name of the group.

Unlock your profile, and write a reasonably personal and realistic post about yourself, your level of English, profession and some hobbies for example – and don’t be put off by negative replies. However, do NOT post personal data such as your date of birth, email or phone number for everyone on the Internet to see – start your conversations with potential hosts via Facebook Messenger.

If, as a Ukrainian refugee, you know the area you would like to end up, it may be worth looking for a social media site in the neighbourhood (Facebook, Nextdoor).

You could also try contacting local church groups to see if they would advertise for a host for you. If you have a specialism, such as being a professional sportsperson, or a particular professional career, you could try contacting the relevant British association for that specialism, or social media networks that may be set up for that specialism, to see if they could think of ways to help. Sometimes, people could be more interested in sponsoring someone who has similar interests or backgrounds.

As a potential host, be careful when searching for someone to sponsor on social media, as it’s all too easy to create a fake profile, stealing someone else’s pictures to make it look genuine. The group admins of the bigger groups do try and share details of fake profiles but they can’t pick up on all of them. Be especially careful about handing over any personal data such as passport details. See Ukraine Visa Scams for more information.

As always, please use your own judgement about who you find. Note that both hosts and guests will eventually be background checked when the visa application is submitted.

Checking if host and guest are a good match

Of course, this is a lottery, especially if you do not have any mutual acquaintances who can vouch for you. Even if you know each other, or are even related, it does not necessarily mean that you will find living together easy when it comes down to it. This applies to people even outside the refugee scenario, so there’s extra pressure when one party has arrived under duress and trauma, feels the pain of separation and of lives destroyed, has fears for the future and so on.

Although for many hosts and guests, things work out okay, we have seen a few issues arising around what seem to be cultural differences and some which are purely down to your approach to living with other people. The bureaucracy involved around moving to a new country with a language barrier also should not be underestimated, but there is plenty of knowledge and help available.

As a host, be honest about any ‘must-have’ house rules you expect to be followed, BEFORE submitting the visa application with your guest. If you have such rules, it isn’t fair to spring them on the guest once the process has started, or once they have arrived and started to live with you. It’s worth remembering that for a refugee who has had to worry about life and death priorities, things that are important to you may not be on their radar, and what would be their usual routines may not be functioning well. They may also have felt pressure to be the perfect person so that they will be chosen and the reality may be disappointing to you. It may be easiest to think of them as effectively a lodger in your home, but one who might need help navigating the systems in the UK. Cultural differences and issues to be aware of include for example children staying up later than might be expected in British households.

As a guest, be honest about who you are and whether or not you can live up to the host’s expectations. You don’t have to pretend to be the perfect person. It’s hard to reject a host when there seems to be no other option, but it will also be hard when things begin to break down with your sponsor and they do not have to stick it out for the full minimum of 6 months if they feel they cannot cope. Some hosts are going to be quite relaxed about sharing their house with strangers who may have different lifestyles; others less so. One practical thing to check before agreeing to go ahead is whether there is sufficient public transport nearby at your host’s location. You don’t want to be utterly dependent on them to take you everywhere.

Key questions to establish before agreeing to the sponsorship arrangement include:

  • Whether the guest should have a good level of English already
  • Covid vaccination status – whether to be vaccinated or not is a personal choice, and if this is a ‘must have’, establish this beforehand, as it is unlikely to change afterwards
  • Whether or not it’s acceptable to cook meat in the house – if one party is vegetarian or vegan, and doesn’t want this, again, this is unlikely to change
  • How guests will get around practically and whether there are any accessible schools, amenities and jobs, as the public transport situation is unlikely to change
  • Where children and pets are concerned, how will the two households adapt, for example are your children likely to get on with others of a similar age or will they feel jealous?

Compromise on both sides, a willingness to give and take, respecting each other’s property, space and privacy, and not being judgemental or taking things personally is key to a successful host / guest relationship. Hosts will find their lives inevitably disrupted but generally speaking, not nearly as much as refugees’ lives have been.

Can single men be sponsors?

It’s an unfortunate fact that Ukrainian women on their own can receive inappropriate messages or offers, so can be wary of single men wanting to be sponsors.

However, there are many older couples wanting to come over (to be near family already here for example), or family units. If you’re a single man genuinely wanting to help, this could also be an option. Matching organisations could help find you a suitable match.

[The information below was confirmed with the Ukraine Visa Helpline on 13/02/23. We advise you to ring the helpline on 0808 164 8810 and to contact your local council to double check any information relating to your particular circumstances.]

The eligibility criteria to be a sponsor under Homes for Ukraine are given here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/homes-for-ukraine-sponsor-guidance#eligibility

UK Visas and Immigration said that if you met these criteria, such as having suitable accommodation available for 6 months at least, and the right to remain in the UK for at least 6 months (which your BRP will give you), then you are eligible to be a sponsor yourself.

Note that if you want to bring over family members or close relatives, the eligibility criteria to use the Ukraine Family Visa scheme route would not be met, as you would not have indefinite right to remain in the UK. You are also not officially a refugee or under humanitarian protection in the UK. See https://www.gov.uk/guidance/support-for-family-members-of-british-nationals-in-ukraine-and-ukrainian-nationals-in-ukraine-and-the-uk#contact-uk-visas-and-immigration.

You are eligible to use the Homes for Ukraine route in this case for family members. This appears to be working well, with many people able to bring over family members by becoming their hosts. See our page: Bringing Relatives to the UK.

Can a Ukrainian university student come to the UK?

Yes, this is possible, but something to be aware of: if you come over as a student partway through a university course in Ukraine, and plan to continue to study online at your Ukrainian university, while living here with a sponsor, you will not be eligible for any financial support. You do not qualify for benefits, nor for student loans. This has affected many students who came here.

If you want to take up university education here instead, then you can find a sponsor to get your visa and have somewhere to stay in the UK, and then apply for a student loan to support yourself during your UK university course (which is how most British students get through university). This is an affordable way to finance your studies.

See Education for more details.

Can children under the age of 18 come to the UK?

Yes, this is possible, but the sponsor must have known the family before the war started, and there are more stringent checks done, for safeguarding reasons.

See Ukrainian Refugee UK Visa Types for more details on this scenario.

All 3 Ukraine Visa schemes are FREE to apply for, including the Homes for Ukraine visa scheme. It is unfortunate that there are those who are willing to exploit people’s desperation to flee war for a better life, by charging a fee to find a ‘sponsor’ (typically for several hundred pounds).

Please don’t be tempted to do this. A genuine sponsor will not want money. This is a sure sign of a scam or fraudelent visa and you are risking losing your money and being turned away at the border even if you do receive a visa. See Ukraine Visa Scams for more information.

Organisation sponsor schemes (Scotland and Wales) – PAUSED

In Scotland and Wales, you could register to be a host on the Homes for Ukraine portal (accessed via Homes for Ukraine (apply-to-offer-homes-for-ukraine.service.gov.uk)). You could then find an individual to apply for, similar to how it works in England and Northern Ireland, or you could let the Scottish or Welsh Government find you a refugee through the Super Sponsorship scheme.

As a refugee, you would then choose the Scottish Government or Welsh Government as your ‘sponsor’ when applying for a visa. They are known as ‘Super Sponsors’ and will take responsibility for finding you a sponsor instead. Some people applied like this, even if they did not intend to settle in Scotland or Wales more permanently, as it took out the stress of finding a sponsor before you could get a visa. When applying for a visa, you would select that your sponsor is an ‘organisation’ rather than an ‘individual’ and then choose ‘Scottish Government’ or ‘Welsh Government’ from the options. They would then put you into temporary accommodation when you arrived in the UK and later on, find you a host from the registered hosts on the Homes for Ukraine portal.

Unfortunately, due to demand, both these ‘Super Sponsors’ are no longer taking new applications. We will update this page if that changes.