These are the hoops Ukraine refugees must jump through to come to Britain

The Home Office requires reams of red tape and bureacracy for people to join their families

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Thursday 10 March 2022 12:44 GMT
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It’s hard to watch atrocities happen across the world and feel helpless
It’s hard to watch atrocities happen across the world and feel helpless (AFP/Getty)

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Louise Thomas

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The government has been criticised for imposing strict restrictions on Ukraine refugees, forcing them to jump through hoops if they want to come to Britain.

The approach is in contrast to the European Union, which has waived all visas for Ukrainians and is expecting millions to flee the Russian invasion.

But what exactly is the process that someone trying to reach their family in the UK might have to go through?

Under the UK's family visa scheme, people coming from Ukraine must first create an online account with the Home Office.

They must then fill in a detailed application form asking questions such as which country will provide biometric details about them, and how long they have lived in Ukraine.

Then they must upload proof that their qualifying family has permanent resident in the UK. This could be a scan of a page in that person's passport.

The next step is to upload proof that they have been living in Ukraine before 1 January this year – which could be difficult to obtain if they have left their home in a hurry.

The applicant must then provide evidence that they are related to a qualifying family member in the UK. Acceptable evidence includes a birth certificate or marriage certificate. They can also explain why this is unavailable – perhaps they are fleeing a war?

All these documents must then be translated to English and uploaded to the government immigration service website.

After this process is complete, they are asked to book and attend an appointment at a Home Office visa application centre on the continent. Most countries have visa centres, including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and France. However, most countries only have one centre, which could mean travelling a long way. There is no centre in Ukraine itself.

The point of this appointment is so that Home Office officials can take biometrics of them, fingerprints and a facial scan. Slots are very hard to come by, with week-long delays reported. For many, this will be a question of waiting.

After the appointment there is then more waiting, and the applicant must then wait for the application to be processed and for security checks on them to be carried out.

By contrast, people fleeing Ukraine for the EU can simply arrive in the country – under emergency provisions, none of these steps are required and no visa is needed.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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