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UK lawyers are stepping up to offer free immigration advice to Ukrainians

The Ukranian Advice Project is helping Ukraine nationals reach the UK following Russia’s invasion of the country.

A group of UK lawyers are offering free immigration advice to Ukrainian citizens attempting to seek sanctuary in Britain.

Set up following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the “Ukrainian Advice Project” says it will offer pro-bono immigration support to any Ukrainian citizen fleeing their home country.

The qualified lawyers running the project are now asking for more volunteer lawyers to come forward and help their efforts.

At least 30 enquiries have been received over the last 24 hours, while “dozens” of immigration lawyers have come forward to help, according to a tweet from group member Miranda Butler, a barrister in London.

Over the last few days, the UK has announced some measures to make it easier for Ukrainians to seek sanctuary in the UK, including visa concessions for close family members of British nationals and fewer requirements for supporting documents to accompany a visa application.

Anyone without a British sponsor can attempt to enter the UK as a visitor with “clear compelling or compassionate reasons for [a] visit”, but must have an intention to leave after a maximum period of six months. 

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These moves follow controversial comments by Conservative minister Kevin Foster, who suggested that Ukrainian nationals could apply to pick fruit on British farms if they wanted to come here. 

The Ukrainian Advice Project is not the only group set up in recent weeks to assist Ukrainians fighting in, and fleeing their home countries.

Across the UK, dozens of community groups have set up collection points to provide essentials such as clothes and sleeping bags as well as collecting donations to assist those leaving the country.

Some individuals, such as Damian Wawrzyniak, have offered help in the form of job offers, with Wawrzyniak offering to pay for flights and visas for two Ukrainian nationals looking for work as chefs on Twitter.

A large number of UK-based charities have launched their own appeals, including the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal, which will support the work of the Ukrainian Red Cross in funding food, first aid, shelter, medicines and clothes to Ukrainians.

The Ukranian Red Cross is also providing first aid training to people sheltering in bomb shelters and metro stations in Ukraine.

Ukrainians seeking pro bono advice from lawyers at the Ukrainian Advice Project should contact  ukraine@freemovement.org.uk with some details of their circumstances and advice needed. Lawyers looking to offer their services pro bono can also contact the same address. You must be a qualified lawyer to assist.

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