Sunday 20 March 2022 6:46 pm
MEDYKA, POLAND – MARCH 20: People, mostly women and children, cross from war-torn Ukraine into Poland at the Medyka border crossing on March 20, 2022 in Medyka, Poland. Nearly two-thirds of the more than 3 million people to have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last month have come to Poland, which shares a 310-mile border with its eastern neighbour. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The UK’s scheme to give Ukrainian refugees British visas will be “completely unworkable” unless the government cuts red tape and provides more help to people offering their homes, shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy has said.
The Homes for Ukraine scheme was launched last week, with refugees able to come to the UK if they have family here or are sponsored by an individual, company, charity or local authority.
More than 150,000 Brits have registered their expression of interest in sponsoring a Ukrainian since it was launched.
However, Ukrainians can only get a visa if they organise a sponsor beforehand.
Nandy told The Observer that it was “pretty extraordinary” that the government is not helping match Ukrainian refugees with British sponsors.
“When you add in the excessive layers of bureaucracy – the lengthy forms and the documents you need to prove your identity and residency – the barriers make this scheme completely unworkable,” she said.
“Unless urgent steps are taken to address this, we will see very small numbers of people taking up this offer and a lot of the public’s generosity squandered.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees now estimates that around 6.5m Ukrainians have fled the country since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion last month.
Almost 9,000 refugee visas have been given to Ukrainians with family in the UK.
Housing secretary Michael Gove last week said: “We want to minimise bureaucracy and make the process as straightforward as possible while doing everything we can to ensure the safety of all involved.
“Sponsors will therefore be required to undergo necessary vetting checks and we are also streamlining the process to security-assess the status of Ukrainians who will be arriving in the UK.”