Guidance

Homes for Ukraine: sponsor guidance

This guidance outlines important information for sponsors including responsibilities of sponsors and how sponsors may support their guests.

Overview and purpose

We have published guidance on Homes for Ukraine which will be regularly updated. Please ensure you read all the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and that you regularly check the website for the latest advice and support.

The Homes for Ukraine Scheme was launched on 14 March 2022 by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

This scheme is open to Ukrainian nationals who were residents in Ukraine prior to 1 January 2022 and to their immediate family members (for example spouse/partner and children under 18) who may be of other nationalities, to be sponsored to come to the UK. Applicants can apply from Ukraine or from any other third country.

This guidance does not cover children under 18 who are not travelling with or joining a parent or legal guardian. On 28 July, we updated our specific Guidance for Councils (Children and minors applying without parents), Guidance for Sponsors (Children and minors applying without parents) and Guidance for Parents and Legal Guardians (Children and minors applying without parents), which relates to existing and new applications from children who are not travelling with or joining a parent or legal guardian, to stay with a known sponsor in the UK (where sponsor eligibility and parental or legal guardian consent requirements have been met).

Safeguarding and welfare of children remain a key priority.

This document is additional to the FAQs, and anyone wishing to be a sponsor through this scheme should read both.

This additional guidance covers:

1. Eligibility

2. Other information: checks; thank you payments; interim payments for guests

3. Accommodation

4. Adapting to life in the UK

5. Further support

6. Four to six months into your sponsorship arrangement

You can find further information on how the scheme works, who is eligible and how to apply. The FAQs also include more information on how to support guests on arrival, and permissions required for mortgages, insurance, landlords and leaseholders.

Businesses and other private organisations are not currently eligible to sponsor people coming to the UK from Ukraine directly.

Sponsors can live anywhere in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) and can be of any nationality, provided they have at least six months’ permission to stay in the UK.

Additionally, the Scottish Government is running a Devolved Government Sponsorship Scheme which means that the Scottish Government, rather than individuals, sponsors the visa application. At present, new applications naming the Scottish Government as the sponsor are paused but all existing visa holders can travel and will be supported as planned.

Guidance for hosts has been published on the Scottish Government website.

The Welsh Government also has a Devolved Government Sponsorship Scheme. At present, new applications to Welsh Government are paused but all existing applications will continue to be processed and existing visa holders can travel and will be supported as planned.

Detailed information for sponsors is available in the Homes for Ukraine: guidance for sponsors

In Northern Ireland, support for arrivals and services more generally are provided by different organisations to those mentioned in this Guide. Please see the following links for more details:

1. Eligibility

To meet the requirements to be approved as a sponsor you must:

1. Be over the age of 18

2. Be based in the UK;

3. Have at least 6 months permission to be in the UK (from the date of the beneficiary’s visa application).

4. Provide one of the following documents (must be valid):

  • UK Passport
  • Irish Passport or Passport Card
  • Biometric Residence Permit
  • Biometric Residence Card (issued to non-EEA family members granted leave under the EU settlement scheme).
  • Refugee Travel Document
  • Alternatively, if your sponsor or adults you will be living with have an eVisa you can enter their ‘share codes’ in the box on this page to prove their identities
  • UK -issued photo driving licence
  • Irish-issued photo driving licence
  • Crown Dependency-issued photo driving licence

5. Confirm you can provide accommodation for a period of at least 6 months in the UK;

6. Ensure that all adults in the sponsor household meet suitability requirements as set out in text below.

If you do not meet the requirements for approval as a sponsor the beneficiary will not be able to progress their application with you as their sponsor and you will not be eligible for the payment.

A sponsor may also be found not to meet the requirements for approval after a visa has been issued, for example based on local authority welcome checks. In these instances, the sponsor will not be able to receive the £350 thank you payment, and any beneficiaries will be supported to find a new sponsor.

Suitability requirements to be approved as a sponsor

To ensure you meet the requirements for approval as a sponsor under the Scheme, the Home Office will conduct security and criminal checks on you as well as on all adults aged 18 and over who will be living in the same household as the guests. This includes checks against government databases and those of other third parties such as the Police National Computer, or its equivalent in Northern Ireland.

The Home Office will make these checks when considering the visa application. If, as a result, you, or other adults who are required to undergo checks, do not meet the suitability requirements for approval as a sponsor the visa application may be held, and the applicant offered alternative options. The Home Office will consider whether any information received as a result of these checks could represent a risk to the applicant, in particular if the applicant is a child or vulnerable adult, when deciding whether the sponsor is suitable.

As the lead sponsor, you will need to ask the consent of all adults in the household to provide their details on the application form for these checks.

If you (or a member of the household) have a criminal conviction, caution, or warning, this may be identified through Home Office checks and the nature of the offence and the time since it happened will be taken into account. Not all convictions, cautions or warnings will mean you are unsuitable to be a sponsor.

You may not meet the criteria for approval if:

  • the named individuals listed as sponsor and members of the sponsor’s household on the visa application are different to the adult hosting the guest/s
  • the sponsorship is linked to an obligation to work in exchange for accommodation
  • accommodation is unsuitable for 6 months – for example, it does not have kitchen space
  • sponsors make multiple applications to sponsor individuals/households and their accommodation is unsuitable for housing the number of people the sponsor is planning to house
  • sponsors make multiple applications to sponsor eligible minors

2. Other information you should know about being an approved sponsor:

Checks

Your local authority will complete checks on the accommodation and living arrangements, along with safeguarding checks (including Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks) to determine your suitability as a sponsor. If you do not consent to undergoing these checks, you will not be able to become a sponsor.

Your local authority will decide which type of DBS checks are required in line with government guidance. You will not be charged for these checks.

  • If your guests include children, an Enhanced DBS check (including a check of the children’s barred list) will be undertaken, for all those who are 16 or over in the sponsor household who are not related to the guest.

  • If you are applying to host a child who is not travelling with or joining their parents/legal guardian, enhanced DBS checks will be carried out before their arrival into the UK

  • If the local authority decides, while undertaking other checks, that an adult guest requires additional support due to age, disability or illness (that an unrelated sponsor or adult aged 16 or over within the household you intend to provide) then the local authority may ask for an Enhanced DBS check (including a check of the adults’ barred list) to be undertaken on any such members of this household.

  • In all other circumstances, where you are accommodating guests in your own home, all members of the household who are 16 or over will need to undergo a basic DBS check regardless of their relationship to the guests.

Your local authority will also undertake at least one in-person visit once your guest(s) has arrived to see whether there are any welfare concerns or formal assessments that should be undertaken.

Your local authority will assess whether any of the information gathered through these checks impacts on your ability to act as a sponsor. Sponsors will not be eligible for the £350 ‘thank you’ payment until local authorities have completed their checks and are satisfied that the sponsor meets the requirements of the scheme. Where a sponsor is assessed to not meet the suitability requirements, they will not be able to receive this payment.

If as a result of these checks, you do not meet the suitability requirements to be a sponsor, the visa application may be held, and the applicant offered alternative options in cases where a visa had not already been issued.

A sponsor may also be found not to meet the requirements for approval after a visa has been issued. This may be a result of failed accommodation checks or other safeguarding concerns (such as any raised through the completion of DBS checks) identified by your local authority. In these instances, the guest(s) will be supported to find a new sponsor.

Thank you payments

You must be certain that you are in a secure position to offer a stable home to someone who needs it. You have the option to receive a monthly payment of £350 for up to 12 months, paid in arrears, for as long as you are hosting your guests and provided that the accommodation provided is of a suitable standard. You will be eligible for the first monthly payment once the local council has visited to check the standard of the accommodation.

There can only be one payment per residential address and in England it will be administered through your council.

For sponsors who receive welfare payments, the government is ensuring ‘thank you’ payments do not affect your benefit entitlement. ‘Thank you’ payments will not affect any council tax discounts for single occupancy. They will be tax free.

If your guest moves out of your home for any reason, you must inform your local council at the earliest opportunity as you will need to let them know that you are no longer eligible for the monthly payments.

Interim payment for guests

If your guests are old enough to work, they will be able to apply to receive Universal Credit and will be able to apply for advance payments, where eligible. Guests who are of pensionable age will have access to Pension Credit and Housing Benefit, provided they meet eligibility criteria.

Guests are eligible for an interim payment of £200 per guest for subsistence costs. This will be administered by the local council where the sponsor accommodation is located. The £200 payment does not need to be repaid by the guest. Local councils will also have discretion to top-up or further support guests with interim or additional payments.

3. Accommodation

All accommodation will be different and while there is no set expectation, your accommodation needs to be free from serious health and safety hazards. You should make sure your home is safe for your guests and that it is in a suitable condition. You will need to make sure that you have a working fire alarm, a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance, and a safe gas supply. You should have safe gas appliances, fittings, and flues. It is a good idea to have gas appliances checked regularly to ensure they are safe, a Gas Safe Registered engineer can do this for you (find one at Find an engineer). You should also make sure that your guests have access to kitchen and bathroom space.

You should also consider how many people you can accommodate so they have sufficient space. The law states that two people should not be in one room unless they are: adult cohabiting partners; a parent and child; two siblings of the same gender if aged over 10; two siblings regardless of gender if aged under 10. Individuals who didn’t previously know each other should not be given the same room.

A decision to become a host family should always involve everyone in the household, including children, whose views, wishes and feeling should be taken into account. There will be additional considerations when the household includes children in foster care.

Please see the FAQs for permissions required for mortgages, insurance, landlords, renters, leaseholders and foster carers.

Accommodation in your own home and self-contained accommodation

It’s best to set a few clear expectations between you and your guests. As a sponsor you may want to draw up an agreement with your guests that sets a few ground rules. One option is to agree ‘terms of occupation’. Further information on model agreements can be found in the FAQs. There is guidance on sharing your home with a lodger, and whilst it is written for those living in rented homes, it also covers many of the points that any sponsor will want to think about. Rent should not be charged under the sponsorship scheme and therefore tenancy rights should not be created. You may ask guests to pay a reasonable and proportionate contribution (according to use) for water, gas and electricity consumed or supplied to the accommodation or to any shared facilities. With self-contained accommodation, you should agree with your guest who will pay council tax.

4. Adapting to life in the UK

As a sponsor, you’re here to support and help your guests to adapt to life in the UK. The first thing to do will be to make sure they’re comfortable in their accommodation and setup with the basics. They should have enough food and essential supplies like toiletries and it’s worth checking that they’ve got access to a mobile phone and the internet so they can stay in touch with family and friends.

Every guest will be entitled to a £200 interim payment to help with subsistence costs which will be provided by the local council. Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme people will also have access to public services, work and benefits. Guests will have the right to work in the UK. There is no obligation for guests to work in exchange for accommodation. Work undertaken by a guest must be paid and not, in any way, linked to their sponsorship arrangement.

Access to public services

You should try to help direct your guests to public services. For example, this could involve helping them contact and register with a local GP and NHS dentist. Additional guidance on how to access public services can be found on the gov.uk website.

Your local council is responsible for support like:

a. registering children with local schools

b. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes

c. giving advice and referring guests to mental health services and to specialist services if needed

d. advising on how to access local Jobcentre Plus services and explaining what their role is

While existing sponsorship relationships should be sustained for six months or longer, in a minority of cases this will not be possible. If your sponsorship breaks down, or you are worried it is about to breakdown, you should contact your council to make them aware. If appropriate, your local council may offer a rematch with a new guest within the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

If you, or anyone you know, has any concerns about potential abuses of the scheme, you should report them at the earliest opportunity to the local council, or to the police if you are concerned that a crime has been committed or if there is a threat of a crime being committed.

As guests adapt to life in the UK, there is the possibility that they make be at risk of exploitation and modern slavery, by those seeking to profit from their exploitation. There are many different indicators of modern slavery and Unseen UK have produced information on signs of modern slavery to look out for. If appropriate, your local council may offer a rematch with a new guest within the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

If you suspect that your guest is being exploited, you can report this to the Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline.

If you are concerned about a child’s overall development and wellbeing, and you think they may need some extra support, you can use the NHS website for further information and the support that is available.

5. Further support

There are many things that you might need help and support with either while adjusting to hosting in the first few weeks, or later.

We have published a page with sources of support for sponsors, and families hosting people from Ukraine in the UK. It contains information before and during sponsorship, including toolkits from voluntary organisations to help you better understand the role of a sponsor. You will also find information about:

  • how to communicate with your guests
  • your wellbeing
  • your guests’ health and wellbeing

The government is sharing a welcome guide with guests, setting out some useful information on the support available to them once in the UK, including housing, employment and access to health facilities and education. There is also a separate welcome guide for children not travelling with or to join a parent or legal guardian.

6. Four to six months into your sponsorship arrangement

We have heard you tell us you want further advice about how to help your guests establish themselves here in the UK. We are working closely with local councils across the country who are providing support in their local areas. We will continue to keep the guidance on GOV.UK updated.

This guidance is for England only. Guidance applying in the other nations of the UK can be found at:

Wales

Scotland

Northern Ireland

Introduction

This guidance explains what options and support are available to you when you have sponsored guests for 6 months. This is in addition to the information and guidance provided by your local council.

We encourage you to talk to your guest 4 months after their arrival in the UK, about the options for their next steps.

Whatever you decide to do at the 6-month point, please inform your local council 2 months beforehand. It will allow them to offer support if your guest is moving on or to make the thank you payments if you continue to host.

Continuing sponsorship

Many hosts want to continue with their sponsorship arrangement beyond six months. We are asking everyone who is hosting guests, but particularly those that are coming up to their fourth month of sponsoring, to consider hosting their guests for as long as you can.

Thank you payments to hosts are available for the first 12 months of a guests time in the UK. If you continue to host, you are eligible to receive thank you payments, for the remaining months that you host.

To support you, we have developed a list of links that show you what support is available from the voluntary sector, where you can find more guidance and help.

However we understand that not everyone can continue to offer accommodation after 6 months. Where that is the case, we encourage you to work with your guests to develop a plan for how they will move on.

If your sponsorship isn’t working out or you want to end your sponsorship arrangement

If you are unable to continue your sponsorship arrangement beyond six months, you should give your guests two months’ notice.

You must also tell your local council two months before a sponsorship arrangement ends, so that they can end the thank you payments you receive for hosting.

There is a separate process if your sponsorship isn’t working out, or you are worried it is about to end, before 6 months has passed. In this instance you should contact your local council to make them aware as soon as possible, because they can help your guest to find a new host.

Finding a new host

If your guests are not ready to leave sponsorship and move into their own alternative accommodation, but you can no longer accommodate them, they may want to find a new host.

You could help your guests to find a new host, for example through someone that you already know, or helping them find local groups that may be able to find them a new host.

If you are a new host and you choose to sponsor a guest from another host you will be eligible to receive the monthly £350 thank you payment, once the necessary safeguarding checks have been completed up to the end of the guest’s first 12 months in the UK. The local council needs to be informed of any proposed new arrangement, so that the necessary checks can be carried out and the payments can be processed.

If your current guests move out, you can host another guest and receive the monthly £350 thank you payment.

Renting private accommodation

We have published a guide to help guests understand how to rent in England. This will help guests when they are ready and able to move out of sponsorship into independent accommodation. This guide is now available in Ukrainian and Russian.

If guests are considering renting their own accommodation, they can read more information about their rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

Information on renting in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is also available.

Contacting your local council for alternative accommodation

If your guest can’t take advantage of any of the options above and you are concerned about where they will live after your sponsorship ends, contact your local council.

7. Data sharing

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office are data controllers for the Homes for Ukraine visa sponsorship scheme. Further information can be found in this privacy notice.

Published 25 March 2022
Last updated 5 August 2022 + show all updates
  1. Added section on 4 to 6 months into the sponsor arrangement.

  2. Minor changes to guidance to reflect changes to the Homes for Ukraine scheme for children travelling without a parent or legal guardian.

  3. Added links to guidance on children and minors applying without parents.

  4. Updated to reflect a pause on new applicants to Scotland’s Devolved Government Sponsorship Scheme, and further information on sponsor eligibility.

  5. Updated to include more detailed information on local council checks and suitability requirements to be approved as a sponsor. Updated to indicate that further guidance on how the scheme will allow access for children who are not travelling with or to join a parent, will be published in due course.

  6. Updated text in sections: eligibility; other information you should know about being an approved sponsor; adapting to life in the UK.

  7. Updated to clarify eligibility, and include information on safeguarding, interim payments for guests, utility bills and council tax, guest rights and entitlements, accessing a job centre and information on what to do in the case of sponsorship breakdown.

  8. First published.