More than 21,000 Ukrainian refugees now in UK amid criticism of Home Office response

·2-min read
More than 21,000 Ukrainian refugees now in UK amid criticism of Home Office response

The UK has welcomed 21,600 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war, the latest figures showed on Thursday.

As of April 18, 21,600 Ukrainains have arrived in the UK - 15,000 under the family scheme and 6,600 under a public sponsorship scheme.

However, 107,200 Ukrainians have applied for visas to enter the UK as of April 20, while a further 71,800 visas have been issued across both schemes. That means a large percentage of those with visas approved have yet to arrive in the UK.

Government officials believe some people applied for visas so they have the option of coming to the UK but are staying in countries bordering Ukraine so they can return home sooner.

Others may have applied but then changed their minds, deciding to stay where they are or travel elsewhere.

And some will be waiting for everyone in their family to receive permission to travel letters or visas before they depart for the UK.

Six in 10 visa applications made under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme have been granted, the figures show.

Last week, fewer than than half (45 per cent) of the applications via this route had led to visas issued.

There has been widespread concern about the length of time it has taken for visas to be issued to refugees under the scheme.

In an email sent to those registered for the Homes for Ukraine scheme last Thursday, the Government acknowledged that some Ukrainian refugees have been waiting almost three weeks for their visa applications to be progressed or for a decision, calling this "unacceptable".

It said: "We are speeding up the processing of visas and, having prioritised family visas in the first instance, we are now working to accelerate the award of visas under Homes for Ukraine."

Over the weekend, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps welcomed a Ukrainian family to his Hertfordshire home.

The family will be housed in one his children’s bedrooms while they are away at university.

Mr Shapps said: “Today we’re delighted to welcome a three-generation Ukrainian family, along with their dog Max, to live with us in our home.

“Whilst their country goes through the turmoil of Putin’s war, our country stands resolutely with the people of Ukraine.”

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed he had spent Easter with seven Ukrainian refugees.

The MP said: "The Ukrainian family I’m hosting arrived last week, and it’s been wonderful. I spent Easter weekend with them. The whole experience has been incredibly humbling.

"Obviously, there’s a language barrier but that doesn’t matter - we get on extremely well.

“They’re just like anyone. It’s three generations. The mother, sisters and children - and four dogs.”

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