Ukraine war: UK government prioritising recent claims from refugees, leaving others in limbo, families claim

·3-min read

Families still waiting to welcome Ukrainian refugees into their homes claim the government is prioritising recent, easier applications rather than those first submitted.

It is nearly five weeks since Rebecca Lucas put in a visa application to bring Ilona Oleksiuk and her daughter Marta to Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex and away from the terror in their home town of Ternopil.

But the seven-year-old's document still has not been issued despite her passport details being uploaded twice when requested.

"I want the truth," said Rebecca. "If their documents have been lost, I want to know they have been lost and how have they been lost.

"There are people waiting five weeks for a visa… and there are people who have applied last week and they are getting visas in four days."

Ilona and Marta's case is far from unique.

In theory, applications are dealt with chronologically, but barrister Amanda Jones is not convinced.

She has taken on nine judicial review cases of Ukrainian refugees experiencing similar waits.

"The initial form was extraordinarily cumbersome and repetitive and required a separate form for each separate member of the family including babies," she said.

"It's been streamlined quite a lot although it's still relatively complex and it appears to me quite probable that the Home Office is expediting the easy, later cases, in order to up the numbers they can say have been processed."

The latest figures show that 86,100 visas have been granted so far and 27,100 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK.

Dina Khoroshko has finally received hers but only after a second application was submitted following a four-week wait.

That one was approved in just six days and she is due to move in with the Banks family in Weston-super-Mare on 11 May.

"There's hundreds if not thousands in the same position we are in who didn't put in a second application like we did that continue to wait," said Cassidy Banks, who lives with her husband Matt and three-year-old daughter Mila.

"I'm not sleeping at night. She's not sleeping at night. It's just extremely difficult to concentrate on my work, to just live my life, knowing that she's still there, still waiting."

The government admits that some people applied more than a month ago and still do not know if their application has been approved.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: "We acknowledge that this is unacceptable and we are working to resolve this and continue to speed up the processing of applications.

"We are now processing thousands of visas a day - this shows the changes made to streamline the service are working and we'll continue to build on this success so we can speed up the process even further."

But for now Marta and Ilona must share a bed in a bomb shelter, while the safety of a family home in England awaits them far from the danger of missiles and guns.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting