Ukrainian refugee, 12, has visa application ‘terminated’, family says

Anastasia Marunich applied to come to the UK along with five family members.

18 March 2022

A 12-year-old Ukrainian refugee has had her visa application to come to the UK “terminated” due to an error by the Government for unknown reasons, her family have said.

Anastasia Marunich applied to come to the UK along with five family members after they fled Cherkasy, on the banks of the Dnieper river in central Ukraine, two weeks ago.

But her application – which was aided by her cousin Vitalina Clarke and her husband Callum Clarke – was “unable to be concluded” after she provided biometric data alongside her mother, cousins and aunts at a visa centre in Rzeszow, the largest city in south east Poland, earlier this week.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Callum Clarke, 27, and his wife Vitalina, 23. The pair are hoping to get Anastasia’s application approved so she can move to the UK (Victoria Jones/PA)

A Government email sent to Mr Clarke on Friday morning, seen by the PA news agency, said: “The UK Decision Making Centre is currently assessing the application submitted by the above named. We are unable to conclude the application at this time as we require additional information.

“There has been an error on our system which has resulted in us being unable to complete Anastasia Marunich’s application. Please can you re-submit a new application so that we can fully assess her application? We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause.

“When you have submitted her new application can you e-mail her new reference number so that we can deal with her application as quickly as possible.”

The family has already faced issues with their application after being “pushed to the back of the queue” when the visa centre changed from being a walk-in centre to appointment-only.

Mr Clarke told PA: “Her application has been terminated. We don’t know what’s going on or why this is happening. It’s really worrying – but what’s also worrying is the fact that they were able to make mistakes in the first place.

“The other applications are being processed but we don’t know if this means that we’re going to end up in the situation where all the adults and other children have their visas approved at the same time and then we have a child who’s not allowed into the UK.

“We don’t know if it reorders the queue either and it means we have to reapply for everyone again and travel 250 kilometres back across to Poland to give their fingerprints again.”

The family left Rzeszow earlier this week after completing their biometric data and are currently staying in Krakow while they wait for the response.

“It’s difficult to say what will happen if they are all approved and Anastasia’s is delayed,” he said. “As a family, we’d like to try and keep at least one or two of us Britons to stay with her and her mum in Poland. We’re not sure if the whole group of nine of us should wait and come back together.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
People crossing the border point from Ukraine into Medyka, Poland (Victoria Jones/PA)

“We’re living days at a time at the minute. We didn’t have anywhere to stay on Wednesday and my wife’s company really kindly stepped in and said they would pay for a hotel. We’re in a position where a private business is having to step in because of the Government’s failure basically … we’ve basically been abandoned by the Home Office in Poland at this point.”

He described the situation as “stressful”, adding: “It prolongs the not knowing. We’ve had delays, which haven’t been our fault, and we don’t know how long anything is going to take when meanwhile we’ve got real people with real lives happening.

“I’ve got my gran lying in bed in a hotel, and she’s happy to be there, but it’s costing a lot of money to be there and she’s got medications she’s taking that will eventually run out. These are real people with their lives on hold.”

The PA news agency understands that Anastasia will not have to submit her biometrics again and work is under way to resolve the issue.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine and the changes we’ve made to the visa process are making it quicker and simpler for Ukrainians to come here, as well as ensuring those already here can stay.

“Valid passport holders no longer have to attend in-person appointments to submit fingerprints or facial verification, and we have also expanded capacity at our Visa Application Centres to 13,000 appointments per week across Europe to help those without their documentation.

“This week, the Government’s sponsorship route will open to allow Ukrainians with no family ties to the UK to come here and we will continue to work closely with our Ukrainian partners to deliver the measures we have put in place.”

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