Rights of Ukrainian refugees in the EU explained – Residence, education, work and more

Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, more than 3.8 million refugees have left their homes in Ukraine and headed for other countries.

The number of Ukrainian refugees arriving in neighboring countries since the beginning of the war until March 28 is as follows:

  • Poland (2,314 63)
  • Romania (602,461)
  • Republic of Moldova (385,222)
  • Hungary (359,197)
  • Slovakia (278,238)
  • Belarus (9,875)

On March 2, the European Commission activated the Temporary Protection Directive to provide quick and effective assistance to people fleeing war in Ukraine, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.

According to this directive, all people fleeing war benefit from temporary protection in the EU, which means that they are offered a residence permit, access to education and the labor market.

Coming to the EU

Ukrainian refugees are entitled to temporary protection in any EU country if Ukrainian refugees have been permanent residents of Ukraine and left the country to escape war from February 24, 2022.

The temporary protection will last for at least one year, at least until March 4, 2023, but may be extended depending on the situation in Ukraine.

If the grounds for granting temporary protection persist, for Ukrainian refugees, temporary protection will be automatically extended by six months twice, i.e. until March 4, 2024.

Ukrainian citizens have the right to free movement within the Union after being admitted to the territory for a period of 90 days.

Once refugees from Ukraine have been offered temporary protection by a member state, while Ukrainians fleeing war still have the right to travel within the EU for 90 days within a 180-day period , Ukrainians should be able to enjoy the rights deriving from temporary protection only in the Member State which granted the residence permit to Ukrainian refugees.

The right to seek temporary protection includes:

  • Residence rights
  • Access to housing
  • Welfare
  • Medical care
  • Legal custody and safe placement for unaccompanied children and adolescents
  • Access to education for children and adolescents
  • Access to the labor market
  • The right to open a payment account with basic functionality

Moving to other EU countries

Ukrainians who decide to travel to other EU countries have the right to do so without a visa.

But if a Ukrainian refugee is a national of another third country, it should be checked whether his origin is also on the list of third countries whose citizens are exempt from the Schengen visa requirement.

If refugees from Ukraine first crossed the EU border via a country that is not a member of the EU area without internal border controls – which are – Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Ireland – as a rule, the documents of Ukrainians fleeing the war will be checked again at the border crossing point of the other Schengen country.

Once refugees from Ukraine have just entered a country in this zone, they can in principle move without being subject to border controls to other countries that are part of the EU, but refugees cannot do so only for 90 days out of a 180 day period.

Get a job as a Ukrainian refugee in the EU

Ukrainian refugees already in possession of temporary protection will be able to follow vocational training in salaried or self-employed activities and benefit from equal treatment with workers from the Member States as regards wages.

The Commission is helping these Ukrainian refugees to acquire the skills needed to enter the labor market.

This support could be made possible through funding from Cohesion Policy and the new Cohesion Action for Refugees in Europe (CARE), as well as the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

The Commission has also added the Ukrainian language to the EU Skills Profile Tool for third-country nationals to help Ukrainian jobseekers and those wishing to continue their studies.

Public employment services are called upon to play a crucial role in active labor market policies in order to use the skills of newcomers and to act as intermediaries in the labor market.

The Commission is working on new guidelines to facilitate the recognition of professional qualifications obtained in Ukraine, which will allow employers and training establishments to better understand the skills of Ukrainians coming to the EU.

Digital language and basic skills can also be developed by using the Skills Pact networks to connect regional authorities, educational organizations and NGOs involved in supporting people who have fled Ukraine.

The Commission provides access to teaching materials in Ukrainian and online resources and courses for teachers through the School Education Gateway and support for refugee teachers through access to EU programs and exchanges within the eTwinning community.

The European Training Foundation has created a resource page to help both Ukrainians who seek help in recognizing their qualifications and those who need help in interpreting them.

>> Hungary will provide financial support to employers who offer jobs to refugees from Ukraine

Access to education for all

Half of the Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war are school-aged children, and their return to school will help alleviate the psychological stress.

In this case, the Commission is working on funding tutoring, vocational education and training, and early childhood education and care through EU Cohesion Funds and Erasmus+, and the European Solidarity Corps.

The Commission is also setting up a European Union Education Solidarity Group for Ukraine to identify the needs of Ukrainian children and to support the Member States hosting them, in particular with regard to peer learning and policy guidance.

The “European Research Area for Ukraine” portal was also created. It is the only center for information and support services for Ukrainian-based researchers and scholars fleeing Ukraine.

This portal supports researchers by linking more than 600 centers and 43 national portals in all EU Member States.

>> Timeline of Ukrainian refugees reaching EU countries amid Russian invasion

Helen D. Jessen