Homes for Ukraine Northern Ireland: How to register as a host and how it works

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The Northern Ireland government has provided details of the Homes for Ukraine scheme which aims to connect people with spare accommodation to refugees fleeing the war in the country.

A “large number of people and organisations” across the north have already recorded their interest in being a sponsor, a spokesperson said.

If you have additional accommodation or want to welcome a Ukrainian individual or family into your home, or if you are an organisation with accommodation and could provide sponsorship, you can register your interest to be a sponsor on the portal at with a spare room or separate self-contained accommodation that is unoccupied can register. The accommodation has to be available for six months, be fit for people to live in and suitable for the number of people to be accommodated.

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Sponsorship arrangements can be registered on the system. The details of the sponsor and the Ukrainian individual/family can be inputted onto the portal to allow the sponsorship proposal to be considered.

Refugees from Ukraine walk on the jetty after arriving by ferry at the Romanian-Ukrainian border point Isaccea-Orlivka on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images)Refugees from Ukraine walk on the jetty after arriving by ferry at the Romanian-Ukrainian border point Isaccea-Orlivka on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images)
Refugees from Ukraine walk on the jetty after arriving by ferry at the Romanian-Ukrainian border point Isaccea-Orlivka on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images)

The Home Office have said they will carry out a criminal records check (equivalent to a basic Access NI check) on both the sponsor household and the sponsored person/family. If these are satisfactory, they will issue an electronic visa which will allow the Ukrainian national/s to travel here.

A spokesperson said: “If you want to sponsor a person in this way, you’ll need to know their name. If you don’t, it may well be that a local community group or faith-based organisation has made links with Ukraine and the surrounding region where people seeking to travel here can be identified.

“Offers of accommodation/ sponsorship are very much welcomed as the best way to settle Ukrainians is through an inclusive community-based approach.

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“Organisations, community groups, faith and non-faith based organisations are encouraged to actively make links with sister organisations in Ukraine and the surrounding region including Poland, so that individuals can be identified and matched to suitable sponsors. Either party will then be able to initiate the application process.”

The current Homes for Ukraine Scheme only applies where there is an identified Ukrainian national and an identified individual sponsor.

It is anticipated that there will be broader schemes developed by the Home Office at a later stage.

“Working in partnership with statutory services, community groups will have an important role when people arrive. This will include making sure they have what they need; providing meals until they get their own food sorted; helping them make contact with friends and family; and in many other ways.

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“Sponsors are only expected to provide accommodation. However, there is nothing stopping sponsors offering meals should they wish to.

“You will not be expected to cover the costs of food and living expenses (although you may wish to offer this if you can),” the spokesperson said.

Anyone from Ukraine coming to Northern Ireland under the scheme will be able to apply for benefits and to seek and take up employment, with organisations that will be able to offer support and guidance. This will include information on accessing benefits, registering with a GP and school placements.

The UK Government is offering an optional ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month to people who can accommodate one or more households (subject to the accommodation they have).

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The thank you payment is limited to one payment per residential address. You will continue to receive payments for as long as you sponsor somebody for up to 12 months.

“If you are an organisation or individual with multiple properties, you can receive the £350 for each address which is used to support a sponsored individual or family.

“Work is ongoing to identify how this payment will be processed and further details will be provided when available.

“Eligibility checks will be carried out which may well include a visit to your home or properties. This is an opportunity to ensure that both you and your sponsored person/family are aware of all the support available and linked into useful networks and important services.

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“Work is ongoing to ensure that the payment will be disregarded for the purposes of benefits and your benefit payments will not therefore be impacted. It is not subject to income tax.

“It is unknown how long the crisis in Ukraine will last and what the next few months will bring. However, it is expected, and the requirement when expressing an interest to sponsor, is that sponsorship will be for a period of at least 6 months.

“There will be an arrangement to place refugees with other sponsors after 6 months if that is needed. No-one will be sent back to Ukraine.

“It is important to acknowledge that there could be difficulties and that a sponsorship arrangement may not work out. There will be a system of locally based support workers and volunteers who will be able to help and advise both the refugees and those who are hosting them during the coming months.

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“If it becomes necessary to end a sponsorship arrangement early, support workers will step in to provide support to both the sponsor and the refugees. This will include finding alternative accommodation.”

The NI government said it is estimated that about half of Ukrainians under 35 speak English but said it is recognised that there is still likely to be language barriers, and advised using tools including Google Translate and a range of picture communication charts online.

Welcome Centres will support people when they first arrive. They will provide key information for people in advance of being accommodated by their sponsor. If required, they may offer temporary accommodation for those with no advance accommodation in place.

Welcome Centres will also provide an opportunity to assess the needs of the Ukrainian people arriving here, including health assessments, and start the processes of registering with public services and applying for benefits. They will also provide some time to give the refugees some information about life here and introduce them to the people who will be supporting them while they are here.

Who do I contact to get more information?

For more information about the Homes for Ukraine scheme you can contact the Department for Communities Make the Call Team on 0800 232 1271 or [email protected]