Skip navigation

"Alina" and "Daniela's" story

“You have given this family a lifeline and brought great joy and relief to their lives.”

In 2022, Ukrainians began to arrive in Northern Ireland seeking safety following the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Forced to flee their homes, many were traumatised having witnessed the devastating conflict in their home country.

Ukrainian refugees were warmly welcomed to Northern Ireland and thousands of hosts – or sponsors – signed up to offer accommodation.

Ukraine Assistance Centres were established by The Executive Office to provide information and support to Ukrainians on their arrival, as well as to their sponsors who were playing a vital role in providing safe, temporary homes to those in need of sanctuary. The Law Centre was present at the Ukraine Assistance Centres to offer immigration advice and support.

That is where we met Alina and her family. Their story explains how we supported them through a difficult situation.

Alina and Daniela’s story

A family of three, Alina, her husband, Viktor, and their daughter Daniela had applied for a visa under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme in early 2023. This visa would allow the family to stay in Northern Ireland for three years.

The family had fled Ukraine and arrived in Northern Ireland before their applications were decided. Unusually for Home Office practice, Viktor received his full 3-year visa on arrival whereas Alina and Daniela received a passport stamp conferring an initial six months’ permission to stay.

Nine months later both Alina and Daniela’s three-year visas were still outstanding and yet their six months’ permission to stay had expired.

This is when their sponsor, John, came to the Law Centre. John explained that Alina and Daniela were stressed and anxious that they would be sent back to a war zone in Ukraine. John made a complaint to UK Visas and Immigration and approached his local MP.

At this point, we contacted the Home Office on behalf of Alina and Daniela and were told that they had travelled to the UK before a decision had been made on their applications. This meant that they did not have permission to be in Northern Ireland.

Our Legal Adviser spoke to Alina, Daniela and John and explained the situation clearly – that an application under the Homes for Ukraine scheme must be made outside the UK. However, we knew that they were also eligible to make an application under another route – the Ukraine Extension Scheme – and provided guidance to Alina and Daniela to make this application.

Once these applications were submitted, both Alina and Daniela’s visas were granted within weeks – much to their immense relief and that of their sponsor, John.

This was clear when John contacted our immigration team to pass on his, Alina and Daniela’s thanks.

“I am truly grateful to you for all your assistance regarding these applications. Without your help and intervention, we would still be waiting for a decision. On behalf of my wife and I we would like to say a huge thank you for all the advice and help you have given to us. Also, on behalf of Alina and Daniela a huge thank you for your help and support. You have given this family a lifeline and have brought great joy and relief to their lives.”