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More than 20,000 Ukrainian refugees are awaiting Interior Ministry decisions on family visas

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More than 20,000 people who fled the war in Ukraine are awaiting Home Office decisions on their family reunification applications in Britain, new figures show.

Britain’s refugee minister admitted he was “not satisfied” with the speed at which applications were being processed under Ukraine’s family scheme, which was launched two weeks ago after it was revealed that out of the 27,000 applications submitted, 6,500 visas had been issued.

As a result, 20,500 refugees who fled Ukraine are waiting in other European countries on the continent, often without anyone they know, and have to pay for shelter or rely on charities to house and support them.

Britain’s offer to help Ukrainian refugees drew widespread criticism after it refused to introduce visa-free travel for refugees, instead introducing the Family Scheme a week into the war, allowing Ukrainians with relatives resident in the country to join them .

Refugees are struggling to navigate the program’s application process, forcing many to travel to visa centers, sometimes many miles away, and forcing some to wait hours in the cold. The Home Office on Tuesday eased requirements by allowing refugees with passports to apply online.

The Independent raises money for the people of Ukraine – if you would like to donate, then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

Richard Harrington, the refugee secretary appointed to the role by Boris Johnson on March 8, 2022, told TimesRadio on Friday morning that he was “not satisfied” with the time it takes to process visa applications.

He said the government is making “significant progress” to reduce processing times and is working to “shorten” the form applicants must fill out when they apply, saying the document is currently “long” but “shorter.” “. version” would go live later on Friday.

Ukrainians and their family members living in the UK told it The Independent the difficulty of navigating the visa application process.

A UK resident, Roxy Savchenko, 45, left her home in Cardiff on March 2 to meet her sister Daryna Savchenko, 32, and their 10-month-old baby Vladyslav in Warsaw after they fled Ukraine.

She had expected to be able to return to the UK with them within a few days, but more than two weeks later they remain on the continent in Paris, Deadline with a “ridiculous” visa procedure.

Roxy Savchenko (right) has been trying to get visas for her sister Saryna (left) and son Vladyslav since March 3

(Roxy Savchenko)

They struggled to arrange a visa appointment but were finally able to attend one in Paris on Monday. Two days later, Daryna received a positive decision and was told that she could pick up her visa at the center.

Although they were initially told the baby could be included in Daryna’s application, on Wednesday they received an email from the Interior Ministry saying that Vladyslav needed a separate application.

Roxy said she was shocked when the Home Office said a separate application had to be made for 10-month-old Vladyslav

(Roxy Savchenko)

They are now waiting to find out when they can make an appointment at the visa center to submit the 10-month-old’s fingerprints and photos.

Roxy, who suffers from chronic fibromyalgia, said: “It’s bizarre that we have to make a separate claim for the baby. I still have a five-year-old son at home. The lady who takes care of him is struggling. My sister is in pretty bad shape herself. The baby cries a lot.”

Colin Yeo, an immigration lawyer, criticized the government for only issuing 6,500 family visas, noting that over three million people have fled Ukraine, “with more leaving all the time.”

“We really, really need to waive visa requirements if we are to help Ukrainians themselves and our neighbors in this crisis. Of course, if we do that, there will be problems. Several thousand Ukrainians would arrive very quickly, with more to follow,” he said.

“But these problems would be no worse than what is already happening across Europe. We are currently not playing any significant role in this crisis.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Valid passport holders are no longer required to attend in-person appointments to submit fingerprints or facial verification, and we have also expanded the capacity of our visa application centers to 13,000 appointments per week across Europe to help those without their documents.” The employees work seven days a week to process applications as quickly as possible.” .

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now we are renewing our campaign and launching this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukraine crisis we urge the government to go further and faster to ensure aid is delivered. To learn more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. to sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate, then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ukraine-refugees-family-visas-richard-harrington-uk-b2038861.html More than 20,000 Ukrainian refugees are awaiting Interior Ministry decisions on family visas

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