‘Shameful’ delays in processing visas for Ukrainian refugees – Labour

So far the Government has been unable to provide information on how many Ukrainians have arrived in the UK after being granted visas.

25 March 2022

The Government has come under fire over its visa schemes for Ukrainians fleeing conflict, amid accusations there are “continuing delays and problems” with the process.

Last week Ukrainian refugees who did not have any relatives in the UK but wanted to apply for visas under the new Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme were told not to travel to Britain until they have received a decision on their application.

At that time 150,000 Britons had expressed an interest in housing refugees under the scheme.

Meanwhile tens of thousands of applications have been made to the separate Ukraine family scheme, which allows Ukrainians to join relatives living in the UK.

It comes as anti-slavery commissioner Dame Sara Thornton said she is “gravely concerned” about the “very real threat of human trafficking facing refugees – overwhelmingly women and children – at the Ukrainian borders and along their journey to destination countries, including the UK”.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper called on the Government to “urgently publish” more information to show the progress of the visa schemes.

She said: “A month after Putin’s invasion began, the continuing delays and problems with the Home Office visa processes for Ukrainian families are just shameful.

“The British people have shown huge generosity in wanting to support Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s invasion but the design of this scheme is causing real problems with continuing delays, huge confusion about how to make it work and safeguarding concerns.

“The Government needs to urgently publish how many people have actually managed to arrive.

“Warm words from ministers about helping Ukrainian families just aren’t good enough if their system just isn’t working.”

So far the Government has been unable to provide information on: how many Ukrainians have arrived in the UK after being granted visas; how many applications have been made to the Homes for Ukraine scheme since this opened a week ago and how many visas have been granted as a result; or any further detail on how many sponsors have now registered an interest.

According to the latest provisional data available, the Home Office has issued 20,100 visas under the Ukraine family scheme as of 5pm on Thursday while 35,500 applications have been submitted.

Data on the sponsorship scheme will be published “once they become available”, according to the Home Office website.

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