1. This short paper provides an update on the super sponsor scheme for displaced people from Ukraine, describing the background to the scheme and 'Warm Scots Welcome' programme, arrivals information and provision to date, as well as the outcomes of a review of the scheme including next steps.
2. On 24 February 2022, Russia began a further unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine following the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. With immigration fully reserved, the Scottish Government called on the UK Government to immediately waive all visa requirements and establish a safe and fast route to sanctuary for those fleeing, the majority of whom were women and children.
3. On 18 March 2022, the UK Government introduced a new visa scheme called the 'Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme' (also referred to as 'Homes for Ukraine'). Ukrainian nationals and their family could now apply for a three year UK visa, but only having first secured sponsorship from an eligible UK resident able to provide accommodation.
4. The Scottish Government took the decision to act as 'super sponsor' in its own right, so that applicants could select the Scottish Government as sponsor, receive a visa and travel immediately without the need for private sponsorship arrangements to be found first. This option, designed to be accessible and safe, removed entirely the requirement for those fleeing war to seek out a sponsor, for example, on social media.
5. The super sponsor scheme has proven to be overwhelmingly popular with 35,501 applications, 30,629 visas granted and 17,463 arrivals to date. Even when taking into consideration a pause to applications from July, Scotland still reports the highest number of total applications, visas issued and arrivals per head of the population of any of the four nations (see Figure 1.0). A considerable achievement far beyond our initial commitment.
6. When including those with a private sponsor in Scotland, more than 21,285 people fleeing war in Ukraine have now arrived on a visa with a Scottish sponsor. Supported by partners and communities, this inward migration has occurred over a period of seven months. This compares to Scotland's role in the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, which saw the planned resettlement of 3,000 people with advance notice and over a period of five years. The scale and speed of the displacement has been large and swift, caused by a humanitarian crisis Europe could not have predicted or planned for. It is the largest movement of people on the European continent since the Second World War.
7. In a joint letter from the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, the Scottish Government originally estimated it would support an equivalent number of Ukrainian arrivals as were resettled under the Syrian Resettlement Scheme, i.e. 3,000 as an initial tranche. The letter also made clear the intention to build capacity from there, with Scotland taking a fair and proportionate share of total numbers entering the UK.
8. As outlined in the publication 'Scotland's Support for Displaced People from Ukraine' (11 July 2022), applications to the super sponsor scheme increased sharply in July (see Figure 2.0) following the pause of the Welsh Government equivalent scheme and the slowing of private sponsorship in England.
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