So, you’ve matched with someone, had an online meeting with your guests, things worked out brilliantly. Visa application is submitted and approved – what’s next? In this resource we are going to share some advice as to how to navigate waiting for someone to arrive and what may be some of the challenges and other things to keep in mind during that time.
In Community Sponsorship (and other refugee resettlement programmes) – families are given 6 to 8 weeks’ notice before their flight to the UK. This is so that people can prepare both practically and mentally for such a significant change to their lives.
Through the Homes for Ukraine scheme we tend to see people arrive in the UK much sooner than that and often immediately after their visa is approved, but not everyone may be ready to do this so soon. Remember, your guests have up to 90 days to arrive in the UK after their visa is approved.
Many Ukrainians who fled their country in the beginning of the conflict were able to find temporary shelter in countries neighbouring Ukraine or across Europe. Often these places can’t offer permanent solutions. For example someone may be staying in a city that welcomed so many refugees that finding accommodation or even accessing facilities and resources becomes difficult. Some other refugees may have found safety in a tourist destination where job opportunities are only available during the summer and they won’t be able to support themselves when the tourist season ends. And even if someone is still in Ukraine – we know that taking that final step and travelling across the continent to live with someone you’ve never met is a massive decision to make – it may be that they need a couple of weeks to say their goodbyes and sort out any practicalities before packing their suitcase and getting on the train or a plane.
It is best to discuss the earliest your guests would want to arrive at the matching stage so that you know what to expect. Remember, just because someone wants to wait or take time to make arrangements doesn’t meant that they are not vulnerable or deserving of protection through this scheme.
Check in, make sure they are well, keep getting to know one another. Saying that, be mindful that those weeks just before arrival can be really busy for your guest, they also may not always have great internet access so keep calm if you don’t hear from them for a couple of days.
As you wait for your guests to arrive it may be a good idea to look into the support available in your area. This could be checking out what your Local Authority is offering, finding out what local charities can help you as a host or your guests, or even looking for English classes that your guests could benefit from.
The organisation, NACCOM, has created comprehensive guides about preparing to host and best practice while hosting. You can find their resources on their website
Although it may be difficult to think about, it is possible that refugees will change their minds about coming to the UK even after their visas have been issued. Travelling across the continent is a massive decision to make and one that most people, naturally, try to avoid if at all possible. We know that some people will change their minds even after their visas are approved. While this can be really frustrating and disappointing to you as a host, it’s important to remember how difficult it is to be a refugee. If this happens to you – let us know and we will offer you an alternative match.