Rights in the European Union for Ukrainian Nationals
Once you have crossed into the EU you have a number of options depending on your personal circumstances. The authorities will inform you accordingly about your rights.
The information below provides details about Temporary Protection and International Protection (i.e. Asylum).
You may also be entitled to a residence permit as a family member of an EU citizen or a someone already legally residing in the EU, or as a student, researcher, trainee or worker. For more information about your options you should contact the a qualified immigration lawyer who can provide more details.
Ukrainians and others fleeing Ukraine can be granted Temporary Protection in the European Union
If you were permanently residing in Ukraine, and you left the country to escape war from 24 February 2022 on, you may be entitled to temporary protection in any EU country. Temporary protection will last for at least one year, this may be extended depending on the situation in Ukraine. Rights under the Temporary Protection Directive include a residence permit, access to the labour market and housing, medical assistance, and access to education for children.
Who is Eligible for Temporary Protection?
Ukrainian nationals, as well as their family members displaced by the conflict. Stateless persons and nationals of other third countries who benefited from international protection or equivalent protection in Ukraine, as well as their family members.
Non-Ukrainian nationals of third countries and stateless persons who can prove that they were legally residing in Ukraine on the basis of a valid permanent residence permit and who cannot return in safe and durable conditions to their country of origin are eligible for either EU temporary protection or adequate national protection, depending on the EU country they are in.
How does Temporary Protection Work for Ukrainian Nationals?
The national authorities of the Member State where you are present should inform you of your right to receive temporary protection. You should then inform them that you request to be granted a residence permit for temporary protection and follow their guidance through the national process. You can consult the map directly on the European Commission website for information on national authorities responsible.
This process will include the registration of your data and confirmation that temporary protection applies and that none of the exclusion clauses are applicable in your situation.
How long does temporary protection last?
Until 4 March 2023. If the reasons for granting temporary protection persist, your temporary protection will be automatically extended for 6 months’ period twice, i.e. until 4 March 2024. If the reasons for temporary protection persist, the Commission may propose to the Council to extend the temporary protection by up to another year (i.e. 4 March 2025).
What are the benefits and rights provided through temporary protection? Can I get medical care? Can I work and reside in the European Union?
There are a significant amount of rights provided through the temporary protection status. This includes:
- Residency Rights
- Access to Housing
- Social Welfare Assistance
- Medical Care
- Legal Guardianship and safe placement for unaccompanied children and minors
- Access to education for children and teenagers
- Access to the labour market and jobs (subject to EU countries' labour market policies)
What if I want to move to another EU country?
Ukrainian nationals, as visa-free travellers, have the right to move freely within the Union after being admitted into the territory for a 90-day period. On this basis, you are able to choose the Member State in which you want to enjoy the rights attached to temporary protection and to join your family and friends in the Member State where they are present. Once you are given temporary protection by a Member State, whilst you still have the right to travel within the Union for 90 days within a 180-day period, you should be able to avail of the rights derived from temporary protection only in the Member State that granted you the residence permit. However, another Member State may also decide, on a discretionary basis, to issue you another residence permit. The Temporary Protection Directive applies in all EU Member States except Denmark. It doesn’t apply in Schengen associated countries (Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland).
Can I apply for Asylum?
Yes. Even if you apply for Temporary Protection, you can still apply for international protection -- i.e. Asylum. However, the international protection status determination is independent of the benefit of temporary protection.
It follows a different, specific procedure in front of the competent national authorities in the Member States and the outcome is determined on the basis of your individual, personal situation.
You can apply for international protection in the country of first entry
According to EU law, you must apply for international protection (asylum) in the first safe country. Applicants for international protection have similar rights to temporary protection but there are some differences. In the case of a pending asylum application, a person can have access to the labour market after 9 months in case his/her case has not yet received a final decision, in the case of temporary protection such access can be granted much earlier. You might also apply for family reunification, if you have a family member who is already legally residing in the EU.
Applying for International Protection
It is necessary to inform national authorities in the Member State where you are present that you need international protection and follow their guidance.
Oftentimes, qualified immigration lawyers specialize in refugee and asylum law and can provide valuable guidance for this serious application. You can also read more about this on the European Union Agency for Asylum.
Understanding the difference between Temporary Protection and International Protection
Temporary Protection is designed to provide immediate protection to displaced persons, including those who have fled areas of armed conflict. While temporary protection is without prejudice to the right to apply for international protection, it may reduce the need to apply immediately for international protection as you will receive a residence permit as well as associated rights. The duration of temporary protection is defined by EU law.
Asylum is an individual right, granted following a specific administrative and legal process that will determine whether you have a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. Once granted, asylum can be withdrawn whenever new elements or findings arise indicating that there are reasons to reconsider its validity.
You should enquire with the national authorities of the Member States where you are present for more details regarding the specific rights, such as access to medical care, housing and the labour market, education for children and detention, under each regime.
This information is provided by the European Commission.