The letter, sent to family and fertility lawyers NGA Law, does not clarify whether or not visas would be made available for surrogates' family members. While pregnant surrogates are at risk if they remain in Ukraine due to war there, there are concerns leaving the country may invalidate the original surrogacy contract and many do not want to, or are unable to leave the country, i newspaper reported.
In the letter Patel outlined her 'deepest concern' for all affected by the war in Ukraine, including intended parents and surrogates. She wrote: 'The surrogate mother, where the child is not yet born, will be able to enter the UK for a period of up to 36 months and will have access to public funds and employment. They will not be subject to an application fee or the Immigration Health Surcharge.'
Prior to the attacks starting many countries had sped up efforts to transport intended parents and their surrogate-born babies out of Ukraine (see BioNews 1130). However, many babies born to surrogates since the invasion have been stranded in Ukraine as their intended parents are unable to get into the country or travel safely there due to bombardment. Pictures were shared by Reuters in March of a residential basement shelter in the outskirts of Kyiv where nurses were caring for up to 20 babies born to surrogates who had not been collected by their intended parents.
'You have to understand, this is war,' one of the nurses told Sky News. 'Not everyone is able to come… the airports are all closed, so their parents just can't pick them up.'
Ukraine surrogacy law considers the intended parents to be the legal parents from birth, but contracts require the parents to be present at the birth to clarify citizenship to allow the baby to gain a passport and travel, Economic Times India explained. In her letter Patel clarified the Home Office would 'be prepared to grant visas outside the Immigration Rules on the basis of exceptional circumstances.'
The letter reads: 'We understand that, if the birth has taken place outside Ukraine, the British nationality status of the child may still not be fully resolved. In such circumstances we will bear in mind that there is a process for resolving this in the UK, and be prepared to ensure the child can enter the UK using an immigration visa on the basis of such nationality as he or she may hold.'
Clarification has been issued in Ireland, that surrogates giving birth to children eligible for Irish citizenship will be considered the child's legal mother, unless legislation changes. Intended parents will still have to get a parental order to be recognised as legal parents in Ireland.