Visa delays leave Ukrainian refugees ‘in limbo’

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Ritons wishing to welcome Ukrainian refugees home say people have been left “in limbo” due to visa processing delays.

Families seeking to sponsor Ukrainian families through the Homes for Ukraine program have experienced delays because family members’ visas arrive at different times, with others not getting them at all.

A vigil was held outside the Home Office in central London on Saturday afternoon, with attendees recounting their frustrations at the government’s lack of information.

Among the attendees were Vladymir Tymashov, 35, and his wife Katryna, from Dnipro in eastern Ukraine, now living in Wimbledon, south-west London, who are trying to house a young mother and her two young children.

The couple, who have two children of their own, told the PA news agency they applied for the scheme in March but the family was cut short as the youngest child’s visa was delayed.

Flag bearer Myron Tytko and other supporters hold banners as they join a group of potential hosts, sponsors and supporters of Ukrainian refugees, hold a visa vigil outside the Home Office in London (James Manning/PA) / PA wire

Mr Tymashov said: ‘The frustrating part is that the mother and eldest child have received their visas and the youngest still hasn’t returned.

“It’s frustrating, it makes us unsure we’ve done everything right, we tried to call the Home Office but they just say they’re trying.

“The family was hoping for a quicker outcome, so they are a bit worried and unclear about their future, they are in Poland at the moment and are waiting to come here.

“I wish the government would speed up, maybe they need to get rid of checks for younger people, some of them are a bit ridiculous.”

Government figures released this week show around 71,800 visas have been issued to Ukrainians under the Family and Sponsorship schemes, but less than a third have arrived in the UK.

The vigil saw dozens of potential sponsors and supporters hold up banners calling on the government to speed up delays and improve the application process.

The group intends to maintain a presence outside the Home Office daily between 2pm and 4pm until the delays are resolved.

Another, named Lucy Wells, 34, from Blandford, Dorset, said her family applied on March 23 to sponsor two mothers and four children, aged 15 to 3, from Kyiv.

(left to right) Rosemary Ellis, Katherine Klinger and Kitty Hamilton hold banners (James Manning/PA) / PA wire

She said: “I’m here today because it’s been a really frustrating process and we’re still waiting for visas, but we’ve encountered so many hurdles along the way.

“One of the most shocking things we found was that on Monday we finally got an email from someone in the Home Office telling us the visas had been issued.

“We only received two visa emails, so we were waiting for notification of four visas.”

The refugees have been housed in Germany for a month, Ms Wells said.

She added: “It’s really like they’re stuck in limbo, they’re trying to adjust to something completely abnormal.

“They’re really struggling financially and it’s really difficult for them – it’s really frustrating and upsetting.

“We really want to work with the family but we don’t get any response, every day feels like a second job.”

A government spokesperson said: “The changes made by the Home Office to streamline the visa system, including simplifying forms and increasing staff, are working and we are now processing visas as quickly as possible. they arrive – allowing thousands more Ukrainians to pass our uncapped routes.

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