Priti Patel Announces "Streamlining" Of Ukrainian Refugee Visa Process After Major Backlash
The Home Secretary said the process would be "streamlined" from next week
Ukrainian passport holders will now have access to a new online system for securing UK visas from next week, the home secretary has announced.
Changes to the immigration process for Ukrainian refugees follows fierce criticism of the scheme which provides Ukrainian's fleeing war an opportunity to secure a UK visa.
From next Tuesday, those with a Ukrainian passport will be able to apply for a visa online and will not be required to make in-person visits to processing centers in other European countries.
It comes after scenes of chaos at UK processing centre's across Europe where tens of thousands of refugees have submitted applications to join family in the UK, resulting in delays and hurdles for those applying for the scheme.
Updating MPs on the changes, Patel said she had made the decision to alter the scheme following new advice from security services.
The Home Office had previously said that security risks meant it was not possible to allow people to come to the UK without providing their biometric details at visa centres in other European countries.
"This morning I received assurances which enabled me to make changes to the Ukrainian Family Scheme. Based on the new advice I have received I am now in the position to announce that vital security checks will continue on all cases," she said.
"From Tuesday, I can announce that all Ukrainians with passports will no longer need to go to a visa application center to give their biometrics before they come to the UK."
She added: "Instead, once their application has been considered and appropriate checks completed they will receive direct notification they are eligible for the scheme and can come to the UK."
Patel said this would allow visa application centers across Europe to focus on people who do not have passports, saying there were now 13,000 appointments available each week following an increase in resources.
But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper criticised the Home Office's response to the crisis, saying it had been a "total, total disgrace" which was "bringing shame upon our country".
"We have had a 90-year-old holocaust survivor left in makeshift accomodation in Poland even though her granddaughter was struggling to get her here," she said.
"It is welcome she is now introducing the online approach...but why has it taken so long given she has had intelligence for weeks if not months that she should have been preparing for a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
She added: "And why if we still have to wait until Tuesday for this system to come in, what is to happen for everyone else in the meantime? Why is she not bringing in the armed forces? They have offered to help.
"We have had 1,000 troops on standby to provide humanitarian help for two weeks. Why not use them now to set up the emergency centres and get people passported through as rapidly as possible and get them into the country?"
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