Thank you for your interest in supporting the government initiative to bring Ukrainian refugees to the UK via the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
You can open the sections below to find out more about how the scheme works, or download the information as an infographic (PDF, 453KB. File may not be suitable for users of assistive technologies. Request an accessible format).
Information for Sponsors in Suffolk
An information pack has been created for sponsors in Suffolk, which contains information about the programme and how to support your guest to access healthcare services, applying for a school place and more. You can view the information pack below:
About the Homes For Ukraine Scheme
Homes for Ukraine is the UK Government scheme to enable the British public to sponsor Ukrainian refugees to come to the UK. Read more about the scheme on the Homes for Ukraine pages on the UK Government website.
What to consider before applying
Sponsors with a spare room or separate self-contained accommodation that is unoccupied can come forward to help.
Accommodation must be available for at least 6 months, be fit for people to live in, and suitable for the number of people to be accommodated. This can be anything from an empty room to an unoccupied home, as long as it’s safe, heated and free from health hazards, and gives your guests adequate access to bathroom and kitchen facilities. As an example, providing a sofa bed in a living area would not be suitable as there must be a separate room to give the guests some privacy. Read more to check if your accommodation is suitable on the Government website.
Any council tax discounts you receive will not be affected if you sponsor and host Ukrainian guests in your home under this scheme.
If you rent, you should seek the permission of your landlord. You’ll need to check with your landlord, freeholder or mortgage provider, and insurance company, about whether they’ve got any policies which you need to factor in. It’s important you think through any possible implications for your tenancy, mortgage, lease and insurance before your guest arrives in the UK.
You should also consider if the location of your accommodation is suitable in terms of easy access to services, for example, public transport, schools and shops.
To become a recognised sponsor, and to qualify for any payments and support, you will need to register with the Government Homes for Ukraine scheme. As part of this, you must be prepared:
- to be security checked
- for all members of your household to have their criminal record checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
- for your accommodation to meet basic minimum criteria
- to be able to host for a minimum of six months
Additionally, you should give careful thought to your ability:
- to provide a safe environment
- to cope with young people and children, if offering to host families
- to host people who have suffered hardship and trauma
How to apply
How do I apply to be a sponsor?
To become a recognised sponsor, and to qualify for any payments and support, you must register on the Homes for Ukraine website, managed and run by the UK government.
As part of this process:
- you will be security checked
- all members of your household will have their criminal record checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
- your accommodation will be checked to ensure it meets basic minimum criteria
You can find guidance for sponsors on the GOV.UK website.
How do I find someone to sponsor?
Once you have registered on the Homes for Ukraine site you have two options - either to sponsor a named Ukrainian guest, or to match to an unknown Ukrainian guest.
If you already know an eligible Ukrainian person and have agreed to sponsor them, you can liaise with them directly to fill in their visa application together (please see below for more information on this process). There are no officially recognised methods for doing this, and care must be taken to ensure you are confident in who you are in contact with and to avoid sharing your personal information with unscrupulous people who may be seeking to exploit the current situation.
Alternatively, there are a number of charities and non-government organisations working to match potential sponsors and guests. Once registered on the government site you may wish to approach a charity and register your interest with them. Some charities working in this field include:
- Reset, which has run a community sponsorship scheme for refugees since 2018
- Room for Refugees, which has previously settled unaccompanied child refugees with families in the UK
- Shelter 4 Ukraine, a Ukrainian-run service that registers hosts and refugees
Please note that local charity Suffolk Refugee Support are not involved in registering offers of accommodation or matching hosts with refugees.
What happens after you apply
Once you have matched with a Ukrainian person or family that you wish to host, the following steps must be undertaken:
- Visa application(s)
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
- Household and safeguarding checks
These are not always done in the same order, but they must all be completed.
You or your guest must apply for a visa to enable them to travel to the UK. A separate form must be completed for everyone who wishes to be sponsored and is intending to travel.
The visa application will ask for your personal information in order to confirm your identity and eligibility to be a sponsor. As much as we wish to believe everyone is genuine, there have been reports of people exploiting the current situation to commit identity fraud or apply for more visas than agreed with their sponsor. If you are providing your personal information to your guest to enable them to apply for their visa, or if you are offering your accommodation via a community group or other organisation, please make sure you know they are legitimate.
If you have concerns about sharing personal details, you may prefer to fill out the visa application form on behalf of the individuals you are sponsoring. To do this, you will need to ask them for their information. Read more about this or apply for a visa on the Government website.
Sometimes visas will be issued before other checks are completed.
Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
Once you are matched with a Ukraine guest and a visa application has been submitted to the Home Office (it does not have to have been approved at this stage), your details are downloaded by Suffolk County Council. This transfer of information happens daily (Mon-Fri) via the Government's Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) portal. The Council is then required to do a DBS check of all adults over 16 in your household, even if you have an existing certificate.
The process for this is as follows:
- You will receive a call from Suffolk County Council to gather some initial information, including how many people over 16 years live in the host household. We aim to make this call within 2 working days of receiving your information.
- You will then receive an email from the Community Action Suffolk DBS Service asking you to complete an online DBS checking form.
- When your local district or borough council visit you to do the accommodation check, they will ask to see your ID documents as a verification check.
There is a range of documents that each person will need to produce to verify their identity. Visit the Devon County Council website to see a list of documents suitable for a DBS check. To save time ahead of the team making contact, please check through and get your chosen documents in one place. If all guests are adults who are not classed as vulnerable, we will undertake a standard DBS check. We will undertake an enhanced DBS + barring list check where any guests are children / aged over 65 / adults with identified disabilities/illnesses/learning difficulties.
We aim to undertake our checks before guests arrive whenever possible. If your guests have already arrived, or are arriving imminently and you have not yet had a visit for your check to be undertaken, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will endeavour to prioritise your checks. The DBS check process is not a requirement for issuing a visa and the associated permission to travel, and we are working through a considerable number of applications, so whilst we are moving as quickly as we can, on occasion, checks may be completed after guests arrive.
Household and safeguarding checks
We will also check the suitability of your property. The process for this is as follows:
- You will receive a telephone call from Suffolk County Council to collect information about your household and the property in which you will be inviting guest(s) to live in.
- An in-person visit will then be undertaken by your local District & Borough Council who will ensure that your property meets the required standards and will also view the original documentation that can be used for your DBS check. Please have these documents ready to be viewed during the visit.
How we use your information
Suffolk County Council is committed to protecting your privacy and will treat an individual’s personal data in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Legislation. Your information will not be used for other purposes or supplied to third parties except in accordance with the law. Under the Data Protection Legislation, you have a number of rights regarding any personal data held by us in relation to this project. See our Homes for Ukraine Scheme privacy notices for full details.
Frequently Asked Questions (sponsors)
In addition to the Frequently Asked questions below, we recommend you also familiarise yourself with the contents of our Information for Ukrainian Guests section.
Why won’t you let us use a sofa bed – or swap our living arrangements around so we can fit more people in?
We recognise that refugees are escaping dire conditions and we will do everything in our power to accommodate as many people as possible – but we also have to ensure that living arrangements are realistic over a long-term six to 12 month period for both hosts and guests. We want to ensure we are giving people a stable and safe refuge, not further change and upheaval in 2-3 months’ time when their cramped living arrangements – however well-intentioned – become untenable for either party.
For this reason we are likely to refuse applications that rely on the use of sofa beds in living rooms, and/or where adults cannot have their own bedroom space. You can find out more about the Government guidelines we use for housing checks on the Homes for Ukraine: guidance for councils webpage.
I already have a DBS check, why do I need another?
Not all DBS checks are the same or may be out of date. To ensure the safety of Ukraine guests we require all adults over 16 in the household, or another property being offered by the Lead Sponsor, to undergo an enhanced DBS check.
Will my council tax be affected?
Council tax discounts will not be affected if you sponsor and host a Ukrainian household in your home. If you rent, you should seek the permission of your landlord. You’ll need to check with your landlord, freeholder or mortgage provider, and insurance company, about whether they’ve got any policies which you need to factor in. It’s important you think through any possible implications for your tenancy, mortgage, lease and insurance before your guest arrives in the UK.
I am a childminder, can I be a sponsor?
The Department for Education understands that some childminders in England are keen to join the many others who have signed-up to host people from Ukraine under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and Ukraine Family Scheme. View guidance for Childminders
How do I apply for a Ukraine Family Scheme visa?
How do I receive the monthly sponsor payment?
Government guidance advises that sponsors who have applied via the Homes for Ukraine scheme are eligible for a monthly payment of £350 for as long as the guest remains in their accommodation, for up to 12 months. As part of the initial contact with sponsors, Suffolk County Council will be asking if they wish to claim the £350 monthly payment and if so, will request bank details from the sponsor.
Government guidance states that the payments can only start once the following five checks have been completed:
- The sponsor's residential accommodation exists
- The sponsor's accommodation has been visited and is suitable
- The DBS checks have been submitted (this means that all relevant host household members have completed their details on the DBS link they are sent, SCC has been able to verify three forms of ID and submit applications for checks against registers to commence)
- The refugee guests have arrived at the host accommodation
- Welfare checks on arrived guests have been completed (this means that Anglia Care Trust has visited refugee guests at their accommodation)
Payments are made monthly in arrears on the second Wednesday of each month. Your first payment will arrive in your bank account about a week after that.
How does my guest receive their one off £200 arrival payment?
Once your guest(s) have arrived at your address, please email email@example.com and use the title ‘Refugee £200 payment’ in the subject line. So that we can make direct payments to your guests, please provide the name(s) of the refugee(s), their own personal mobile phone number and own contact email, plus the address where they are living and the date of arrival. Where there are children in the group, please provide the names of the children but include the email address or phone number of their responsible adult from the refugee group. If the refugee guests do not have their own mobile phone number or email address, we can arrange to post the e-vouchers to them.
The refugee guest(s) will receive one e-voucher per person (for example, a parent with two children will receive three e-vouchers. They all look the same, so they will need to make sure that they open all three text messages or emails in order to access all three E-vouchers). The e-voucher link can be opened directly from the text or email; there is no need to download the Wonde app, but if your guest has any difficulty opening the e-vouchers, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The e-vouchers can be cashed at Post Offices, and your guest can choose to cash all three at the same time, or separately on different dates. Please note that it can take up to 3 working days for the Post Office computer system to be able to recognise and redeem the voucher number and provide the cash payment. This means, for instance, this means that any e-vouchers we request on a Friday are not live on the Post Office system before the following Tuesday.
How will you use my personal information?
Suffolk County Council is committed to protecting your privacy and will treat an individual’s personal data in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Legislation. Your information will not be used for other purposes or supplied to third parties except in accordance with the law.
Under the Data Protection Legislation, you have a number of rights regarding any personal data held by us in relation to this project. See our Homes for Ukraine Scheme privacy notices for full details.
Can my guest bring their pet(s)?
The bringing your pet to the UK from Ukraine guidance from the Government indicates that checks should have been made at the point of entry to the UK. However, we have become aware that some refugee guests have been able to bring their pets through without the checks being undertaken.
If your guests have met the requirements or have obtained a license from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) prior to travel, this will state whether the pet(s) needed to spend some time in quarantine or not. Please check and, if this is specified on the license, or if they did not obtain a license or comply with the requirements outlined in the above link prior to travel, please take photographs of any paperwork relating to the pet and contact Suffolk Trading Standards to discuss this as soon as possible on 01473 264859 (option 3) or e-mail email@example.com during normal working hours. Outside of normal working hours please contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency, telephone: 03000 200 301.
Family visas, visa extensions and Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs)
Completing Ukraine Scheme Applications in the UK
Guests can complete their Ukraine Scheme application when in the UK if they:
• have a Ukrainian passport
• are already in the UK
• applied under the Ukraine Family Scheme or the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (Homes for Ukraine) before arriving in the UK
• have not yet received a decision on their application but received a letter saying they could travel to the UK
• were given 6 months permission to enter the border and are now applying to extend their stay.
Guests with a Ukrainian international passport can now use the UK Immigration ID Check App when submitting their Ukraine Family Visa application while in Ukraine. This will avoid the need to enrol at a Biometric Enrolment Centre and will allow Ukrainians to get a digital status without a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Find out more about the UK Immigration ID Check App on the GOV.UK website.
Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs)
Those who already applied without the app will still need to enrol for a BRP. They must apply online for a visa, and if granted, can travel to the UK and receive entry clearance in their passport. This stamp is valid for 6 months. During this time, they need to apply for the full 3 year visa. The same process applies for the Family Visa and the Homes for Ukraine route. Apply for a Biometric Residence Permit via the GOV.UK website.
Once an online application has been completed, applicants will be able to book a biometric appointment. Find your nearest biometric centre.
Ukrainian Family Scheme Visa
The Ukraine Family Scheme allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK. Everyone must make a separate application, even children travelling with a family member. The visa allows UK residency for up to 3 years, is free to apply for and entitles guests to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds. Guests do not need to pay the immigration health surcharge or biometric enrolment fee for this scheme.
Guests from Ukraine can apply if they are already in the UK and meet the following requirements:
- are applying to join or accompany a UK-based family member
- are Ukrainian, or the family member of a Ukrainian national who is applying to the scheme to join a UK-based immediate family member
- have been living in Ukraine on or immediately before 1 January 2022
UK-based family members and immediate family members are also eligible for the scheme.
For more information or to apply:
- Contact UK Visas & Immigration by calling: + 44 808 164 8810 – option 1 (24/7 free helpline)
- View Ukraine Family Visa eligibility information on the GOV.UK website
- Apply for a Ukraine Family Visa on the GOV.UK website
Ukraine Extension Scheme
If a Ukrainian national had temporary permission to stay in the UK on or before 18 March 2022, they can apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme.
If your guest previously had permission to stay in the UK but it has expired since 1 January 2022, they are also eligible to apply. Their application will be subject to security checks.
If the UK-based family member is a (or an extended family member’s) spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner, the relationship must have started before 1 January 2022. Other family members will be considered where there are exceptional circumstances.
Find out more and apply for the Ukraine Extension Scheme on the GOV.UK website
Resources and other information
Please note: external resources, tools and apps may not be accessible to users of assistive technology. Suffolk County Council has not checked and is not responsible for the content of third-party organisations, websites and apps.
How To Speak in Clear and Simple English to the Refugee in Your Home
English Unlocked provide communication courses for hosts of refugees which can support you to learn language techniques to help you better communicate with your guest. They run regular online workshops. Visit their events page to find out more or to sign up.
What do I do if I do not wish to host my guests after 6 months?
Be very clear with the guest when you would like them to leave, preferably in writing.
Attend the 4 month review meeting with Anglia Care Trust. You will be offered this meeting 4 months after your guest arrival date. It is best that you have had the conversation with your guest(s) about what will happen at 6 months in advance of the meeting. You can then discuss the options at the meeting which will include:
- Guests finding a new host on the Homes for Ukraine scheme
- Move to the rented sector
You may be able to help find a new host through your friends, family, contacts at work, socially, your local faith group or in the local Homes for Ukraine community group organised by Community Action Suffolk. If you are not aware of the local community group, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may be able to help with finding rented accommodation through your personal contacts. The Government have published a guide to help guests understand how to rent in England and there is also a note from Suffolk County Council on the rented sector.
If you have a property or annex you can offer for rent to your guest, be clear on the level of rent you will charge, who will be responsible for utility bills and Council tax, the usual amounts charged and draw up an agreement. Please note that if you charge rent you would not be eligible for the £350 thank you payment.
Encourage your guests to be proactive and try to seek out new hosts or rented property. They can go back to Reset or the charity that matched them to you initially to ask, see Recognised Providers: Organisations who can help guests from Ukraine find sponsors in the UK - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) to try to find a new host, or they can contact your District/Borough housing team if they need help with a deposit for a rented property.
Please ensure your guests tell Suffolk County Council by emailing email@example.com soon as a new host property is found as property and safeguarding checks need to be completed on new Homes for Ukraine hosts before they move to the new host.
If your guests are struggling to find a new host, especially if they wish to keep children in the same schools, or 4 weeks before the 6 months end date, ensure they email Suffolk County Council at firstname.lastname@example.org, who will try to find a new host. The Council cannot guarantee to find a host in the location or timescale requested as it will depend on the availability of hosts so we kindly ask for your patience on this.
Email email@example.com when you know what your guest(s) plan is and when your guest(s) moves out. Your £350 thank you payment will then stop. Please note you will receive a payment for the final month if your guest(s) has been with you, if they have been with you for more than half of that calendar month.
If you would consider hosting more Ukrainian guests, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Government guidance on Four to six months into your sponsorship arrangement can be found in Homes for Ukraine: sponsor guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Please give your guests Your living arrangements 4 to 6 months after moving to the UK - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Spot the signs: Modern Slavery and County Lines
Protecting Ukrainian refugees from the risk of trafficking and being exploited on their arrival in the UK is a priority for councils. The following information aims to help you to be able to spot the signs of exploitation and to know how you can report any concerns.
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