Rights of Ukrainian Refugees in the EU Explained – Residence, Education, Work & More

Since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, over 3.8 million refugees have left their homes in Ukraine and headed toward other countries.

The number of Ukrainian refugees arriving in neighbouring countries from 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 the war in Ukraine, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

According to this directive, all persons fleeing the war are given temporary protection in the EU, which means they are offered a residence permit, access to education and the labour market.

Coming to the EU

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

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

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

Ukrainian citizens have the right to move freely 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 the war still have the right to travel within the Union 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 that granted Ukrainian refugees the residence permit.

The right to apply for Temporary Protection includes:

  • Residency rights
  • Access to housing
  • Social welfare assistance
  • Medical care
  • Legal custody and safe placement for unaccompanied children and teenagers
  • Access to education for children and teenagers
  • Access to the labour market
  • The right to open a payment account with basic features

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

If refugees from Ukraine have crossed the EU border for the first time through a country that is not a member of the EU area without internal border checks – which are – Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Ireland – as a general rule, 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 area, they can move in principle without being subject to border controls to other countries that are part of the EU, yet refugees can only do this for 90 days within a period of 180 days.

Getting a Job as a Ukrainian Refugee in the EU

Ukrainian refugees already in possession of temporary protection will be able to engage in vocational training in employed or self-employed activities and enjoy equal treatment with workers in the Member States in the aspect of wages.

The Commission is helping these Ukrainian refugees to gain the skills needed to enter the labour market.

This support could be made possible through funding for the 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 assist Ukrainian job seekers and those wishing to pursue their studies.

Public Employment Services is set to play a crucial role in active labour market policies to use the skills of newcomers and to act as matchmakers in the labour market.

The Commission is working on new guidelines to facilitate the recognition of professional qualifications obtained in Ukraine, which will make it easier for employers and training institutions to understand the skills of Ukrainians coming to the EU.

Digital language and basic skills can also be built 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 in the eTwinning community.

The European Training Foundation has created a resource page to help both Ukrainians seeking help in recognizing their qualifications and others in need of help interpreting them.

>> Hungary to Provide Financial Support to Employers Giving Jobs to Refugees Coming From Ukraine

Access to Education for All

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

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

The Commission is also setting up an EU Education Solidarity Group for Ukraine in order to identify the needs of Ukrainian children and to support the Member States that are hosting them, including peer learning and policy guidance.

The ‘European Research Area for Ukraine’ portal has also been set up, which is the only centre for information and support services for Ukrainian-based researchers and scholars fleeing Ukraine.

This portal supports researchers by linking more than 600 centres and 43 national portals throughout the EU Member States.

>> Timeline of Ukrainian Refugees Reaching EU Countries Amid Russian Invasion

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