Homes for Ukraine – information for sponsors
If you've offered to be a sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme you are playing an important role in providing safe, temporary homes to people in need of urgent sanctuary who are fleeing persecution, trauma, and conflict in Ukraine. Find information below for sponsors on what to expect.
Homes for Ukraine Scheme
If you have offered to be a sponsor under the Homes for Ukraine (HfU) scheme you should have made an expression of interest and/or an application on the online system set up by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).
You will only be contacted by DLUHC if you have applied, identifying the Ukrainian person(s) you wish to sponsor and have been formally matched on the system.
The Northern Ireland (NI) Executive does not have a role in the application process or the provision of visas. They are unable to answer queries about the status of applications.
The UK Government is carrying out the required checks to issue visas under the scheme as quickly as possible.
if you need any help, call the 24/7 free UK visa helpline:
- phone: +44 808 164 8810 (0808 164 8810 if you're in the UK)
If you cannot contact UK 0808 numbers:
- phone: +44 (0)175 390 7150
If you made an expression of interest but did not know anyone, and were unable to formally identify a person(s) to sponsor, the online system will not set up a match.
The UK Government designed the Homes for Ukraine scheme to allow people to offer accommodation for a minimum of six months and for that offer to be matched to people from Ukraine wanting to come to the UK.
The sponsor and person from Ukraine need to connect outside the system and nominate each other during the application process.
If you don't know someone from Ukraine, but still want to help ,there are a number of non-government organisations (NGOs), such as faith or non-faith based charities, linking sponsors with guests.
An organisation called RESET has been commissioned by the UK Government to help link people from Ukraine and sponsors who have no connections.
More information about the Homes for Ukraine Scheme is available at:
Homes for Ukraine video
The Executive Office has made a video to understand more about the experiences of Ukrainians living in Northern Ireland with their Hosts under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
You can watch the full video at the following link:
Pre-arrival and arrival
You will be given each other’s contact details and you are encouraged to make contact with the person(s) you are matched to sponsor.
You will need to find out more information about those due to arrive, including any specific needs and if, for example, they have pets they plan to bring.
There are specific pet travel arrangements in place to protect the general public and other animals from diseases which can be brought in to Northern Ireland by animals from overseas.
If they are travelling to Northern Ireland from Ukraine with non-commercial pets you should, where possible, tell the DAERA authorities beforehand at the Northern Ireland Travellers Point of Entry via email. Find more information at:
Sponsors are encouraged to make arrangements to meet the person(s) you are sponsoring on arrival and bring them to your accommodation.
If this is not possible, you may wish to make other arrangements on their behalf, as they will not know the local area and will have already experienced very challenging journeys.
Translink gives free onward travel on arrival for Ukrainian arrivals on any bus or rail service including cross-border with Republic of Ireland (ROI) (so will allow travel from Dublin on Enterprise or Ulsterbus).
Individuals will need to show:
- a Ukrainian passport or Ukrainian Government issued ID
- proof of arrival in Ireland (north or south) within the previous seven days, such as an airline boarding pass, ferry ticket or confirmation email
A visa is needed for travel into Northern Ireland.
There are information points or stands at airports and ports with key information.
Those arriving with a working bank card or cash card will be able to use them in the ATMS at your point of entry.
While it is estimated that about half of Ukrainians under 35 speak English, there are still likely to be language barriers and you may find it challenging when communicating with those who you may sponsor.
There are some useful tools including Google Translate and a range of picture communication charts online. You can translate nidirect into Ukrainian or Russian at the following link:
Interpretation services will be available in specific circumstances, for example, when refugees need to access health services, but these will not be available for everyday use in households.
People who have arrived in Northern Ireland from Ukraine who have limited or no English language skills can avail of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) courses.
As the safety of you and the person(s) you are sponsoring is of primary importance, there are a number of safeguarding checks. For the Homes for Ukraine scheme, this will include enhanced Access NI checks and a home visit.
A visa or permission to travel letter will be needed to travel here and will depend on satisfactory checks on both the sponsor and the sponsored individual/ family.
As part of that process, the equal standard of an Access NI check will be carried out before a authorisation to travel is issued.
Barnardo's and Extern are carrying out the home visits on behalf of government and will contact you beforehand to make the arrangements for the home visit to take place. Do not contact Barnardo’s, Extern or the Department for Communities before they have communicated with you.
Sponsors and all adults in sponsors’ households will also need initial Police National Computer (PNC), criminal records and Warnings Index checks by the Home Office.
You and those in your household may need to give written consent for some of the checks being carried out and this will be advised at the home visit.
It is important that you co-operate where needed, recognising that they are in the interests of everyone’s safety.
In terms of home requirements, all accommodation will be different, however, accommodation needs to be free from health and safety hazards.
You should make sure your home is safe for your guests and that it is in a suitable condition and can accommodate those you are sponsoring.
In some cases, 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 consider.
It’s important you think through any possible implications for your tenancy, mortgage, lease and insurance before your guest arrives.
Insurers have agreed, that for homeowners accommodating Ukrainian Nationals in their home, there is no need to contact your insurer on the basis that they are accommodated as non-paying guests.
In other situations, including where the sponsor is a landlord or a tenant, you will need to contact your insurer.
Lenders have committed to allow as many borrowers as possible to take part in the scheme. If you have a mortgage on the property you will need to contact your mortgage lender. Work is ongoing with the mortgage lender sector to standardise and simplify this process as far as possible.
If you are considering applying to be a sponsor, you should refer to your mortgage lender’s and insurer’s websites, where further advice will be available as soon as possible.
You cannot charge the person(s) you are sponsoring/hosting rent.
In recognition of people’s generosity and the costs associated with helping, the UK Government is making available an optional ‘thank you’ payment of £350 per month to sponsors/hosts, that meet a set of eligibility criteria, to help in offering accommodation to Ukrainian refugees.
This payment of £350 per month will increase to £500 per month for sponsors/hosts that have a guest who has been in the UK for 12 months or more. This includes when a sponsor/host or the guest has been re-matched, even if it is the sponsor/hosts first time hosting.
Payments are made for a maximum of 24 months from the first arrival date of the guests.
Sponsors/hosts should note that they will only be eligible to apply for this payment once a set of five safeguarding and accommodation checks have been carried out and passed. All five checks as detailed below must be successful for payment to be made:
- confirmation that the accommodation exists
- a home visit to the accommodation to make sure it is of an acceptable standard
- the proper level of Access NI check on the sponsors
- health and social care safeguarding checks on each member of the sponsor household
- a second visit to the accommodation after arrival to confirm that the Ukrainian guests are in the property, and it meets their needs
You will be told at the first home visit of the needs of these checks and of the eligibility criteria for payments. You should make sure that all relevant documents asked for at the home visit is filled in and returned as soon as possible. If you do not, it may delay the process.
When you have successfully passed all five checks and are eligible for payment, you will be contacted via the government 'Notify' system to explain how the process for claiming the payments will work.
You will be contacted to give the necessary details for payments to be made.
You will be asked to confirm some information about you and your Ukrainian guest(s). You will be asked for this information to verify that you are the person entitled to the money.
You will also be asked to give your bank account details and fill in a simple declaration. This declaration form should be returned within 30 days to confirm you will claim payment. To make sure that the money does not go into the wrong bank account, you will also be contacted by phone to confirm the bank account details.
The 'thank you' payment is limited to one payment per residential address, regardless of the number of guests being sponsored, size or location of the property. This payment will be made monthly in arrears, upon successful completion of all checks, and will be backdated to the date the Ukrainian guest(s) arrived. It will continue to be made for as long as you sponsor/host someone up to a maximum of 24 months.
If you have a guest(s) living with you and later fail any of the five safeguarding and accommodation checks, you will not be eligible for any payment for the period you had the guest(s) with you.
Payment will depend on successfully passing all five safeguarding and accommodation checks and will only be for the period the guest(s) was living in the accommodation.
Guests may move out before the full 24-month period but the sponsor/host is still eligible to claim the monthly payment of either £350 or £500 for the period in which the guest lived with them, as long as checks were finished successfully.
If your guest moves out of your home for any reason, you must report this to the department by email as soon as possible to avoid over-payment of the monthly payments:
Where a guest leaves the host accommodation permanently, payments will not be made where a guest has stayed in the accommodation for less than 16 days in the final calendar month, worked out as beginning from the date of arrival. For example, if a guest arrives with the host on 10 October, the first month period will be 10 October to 9 November, the second month 10 November to 9 December. and so on.
Where a guest leaves on a temporary basis and returns within 16 days, payment will be made as normal.
Where a guest leaves on a temporary basis for a period expected to be greater than 16 days, payment will be put on hold. Payment will not be made for the period of absence if the absence is greater than 16 days. Payments will resume upon their return to the host accommodation - as above, tell the department by email:
If a rematch has occurred, the new sponsor/host will be only eligible to claim the £350 or £500 payment for the remaining months of the 12-month payment period. For example, if Ukrainian guests stay with their original sponsor/host for three months, leave and are re-matched to a new sponsor/host accommodation, the new sponsor/host will only be eligible to claim the 'thank you' payment for the period the Ukrainian guests stay with them up to a maximum of 21 months, so using the full 24-month period.
If you are receiving welfare payments, the ‘thank you’ payments will not affect your benefit entitlement.
You will not be expected to give meals or pay for living expenses, although there is nothing stopping you doing this if you want to.
Once your guest has arrived you can reach an agreement, that works for both of you, on a reasonable and proportionate contribution to household expenses. For example, to utilities used or supplied to the accommodation, or to any shared facilities.
You cannot force anyone who is staying with you to work for you, either within your home or at a business that you own.
Dealing with difficulties
It is unknown how long the crisis in Ukraine will last and what the next few months will bring.
Whilst it is expected, and the requirement when expressing an interest to sponsor, is that sponsorship will be for a period of at least six months, it is recognised that your circumstances may change or relationships may break down during or after the six month period.
Occasionally things do go wrong and if they do, it may be something simple that can be resolved. Support will be available to you as a sponsor and to those who have arrived throughout the stay.
A system of locally-based support workers and volunteers is being established to help and advise both the refugees and you as the sponsor.
If, however, you decide you can no longer act as a sponsor or the person(s) you are sponsoring decide to leave at any point, you should contact the Make the Call Team on:
- phone: 0800 232 1271
It is important that you tell the team as soon as possible so that safety checks can be carried out.
If there is an immediate need to secure urgent alternative accommodation for the person(s) you are sponsoring you can also call the NIHE emergency number on:
- phone: 03448 920 900 (during office hours)
- phone: 03448 920 908 if after 5.00 pm Monday to Friday or at the weekends
If the person/ family you have sponsored have moved on and the sponsorship arrangement has ended, the monthly thank you payment of £350 will be stopped.
Ukrainian people on this scheme have access to public funds during their time in NI, and at the end of their sponsorship will be able to rent a property.
Although the need for initial sponsorship is six months, that is not a long time for the person(s) you are hosting to save money and secure other accommodation. You should consider whether you would be prepared to offer the sponsorship for up to one year.
If you feel six months is the maximum you can offer, you should aim to give two months’ notice of this, so there is time for other arrangements to be made.
There will be an arrangement to place refugees with other sponsors after six months if that is needed.
No-one will be sent back to Ukraine.
If you are having problems with your accommodation
If you have come to the Northern Ireland through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, your accommodation is given through a sponsorship arrangement in the home of a host.
Although sponsors are asked to commit to supporting their Ukrainian guests for six months or longer - in some cases this will not be possible.
If you are having any problems in your accommodation or with your host, you should contact Homes for Ukraine to find out if these can be resolved:
- email: email@example.com
If for any reason either you or your host does not want to continue with the sponsorship arrangement, there are other accommodation choices available and you will get help to find different accommodation.
A process to ‘rematch’ Ukrainian people with a new sponsor has been put in place where the initial arrangement can’t be sustained.
There are people in Northern Ireland offering accommodation through the Homes for Ukraine scheme who have not yet made a connection with a Ukrainian person who wants to come here, so it may be possible for you to move to different accommodation with a new sponsor.
Before a new match is made, a visit to the new sponsor’s home will be made to assess suitability of accommodation and all the necessary checks will be carried out.
A second home visit after you have moved into the new accommodation to check the new placement is working will also be made.
If you wish to find out more about this choice, support will be given to try and find accommodation that meets the needs of your family. This will only be arranged with your full agreement.
If you would like to find another sponsorship arrangement, email Homes for Ukraine:
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Private rented accommodation
In Northern Ireland there are a range of properties available to rent from private landlords.
There are variations in the availability of properties and in levels of rent across all regions in Northern Ireland. If you wish to explore choice in the private rented sector, an officer from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive will be able to offer some help.
There are a range of estate agents and websites that have information on available properties and typical rent levels for the area in which you wish to live.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also be able to receive some financial help towards the cost of your rent. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive officer can give you some advice on this.
You may also be able to apply for a social housing tenancy in Northern Ireland. This is rented accommodation provided by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or registered Housing Associations at affordable rent levels that can be typically lower than average market rents.
Access to social housing is achieved through a single application and assessment process. You would be helped through this application process by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive who will fill in a Housing Solutions assessment to explore your accommodation choices.
If you choose to apply for social housing, checks will be carried out on your eligibility under immigration rules and may need your documents to do this.
Your application will then be assessed based on your family needs and circumstances and points will be awarded based on these.
Social Housing tenancies are then awarded to those with the highest level of points.
You should be aware that there is a large demand for social housing in Northern Ireland with over 40, 000 people on the social housing waiting list.
You may need to wait some time before you are offered social housing but tenancies are allocated based on need and to those with the highest level of assessed points.
In extreme circumstances a situation may arise where the relationship with the sponsor breaks down suddenly and you become homeless or are at risk of homelessness.
The Housing Executive is legally responsible for helping people who are homeless and preventing homelessness in Northern Ireland. You can get help if you have nowhere to live or are likely to have nowhere to live within the next 28 days, because:
- you don’t have permission to continue to stay where you have been living and have been told that you need to leave that home
- you are afraid to go home because of violence or the threat of violence from someone who lives there
- you don’t have somewhere that you can live with everyone who normally lives with you or who wishes to live with you
- you have a home but you cannot gain access to it, for example, because you have been illegally evicted
- your landlord has taken you to court and the date by which the court has said you have to leave has passed
When you contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, an assessment to understand your situation will be carried out. The support available will depend on your personal circumstances. Your eligibility under immigration/asylum rules will need to be checked and supporting information will be requested to confirm this.
If you think that you are homeless or may become homeless, you should contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. You can do this by speaking with Housing Executive staff at a Ukraine Assistance Centre, or by telephone or email:
- phone: 03448 920 900 (Lines open 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday)
- email: email@example.com
If you find that you need emergency accommodation outside of Northern Ireland Housing Executive working hours (Monday to Friday after 5.00 pm, weekends, and holiday periods) then you can contact the Out of Hours Emergency Homelessness service:
- phone: 03448 920908
Ukraine assistance centres have been set up to help support people when they first arrive.
They will offer key information for people before being accommodated by their sponsor.
If needed, they may offer temporary accommodation for those with no advance accommodation in place.
More information is available at:
Access to services
Individuals arriving under the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme are unlikely to know Northern Ireland and they will have very little understanding of how things work and where to go to access services.
They will be granted a visa to stay in the UK for three years and will be able to work and access benefits and public services including healthcare and education.
More information can be found at the links below:
- Banking and getting a National Insurance number
- Ukrainian nationals: applying for benefits
- Ukrainian nationals: accessing health care
- Ukrainian nationals: education and childcare
- English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
The role sponsors can play in making those they are hosting feel as welcome as possible and practical tips for supporting them are included in the sponsors information pack available at:
Other organisations, such as the No Accommodation Network (NACCOM) and RESET have developed resources to support individuals who have decided to help people fleeing Ukraine.
NACCOM has launched a hosting ‘good practice’ guide to help individuals and organisations who are interested in getting involved in hosting individuals.
RESET has developed a toolkit and resources to give sponsors an outline of the support that might be needed if you are considering welcoming refugees through the Homes for Ukraine programme.