Preity Zinta is preparing to expand her visa scheme for Ukrainians today, amid suggestions that Boris Johnson is frustrated by the low rate of asylum seekers in the UK.
David Cameron, the former prime minister, last night denounced the Home Secretary for being behind the national mood on refugees. He said Britain should allow more Ukrainians to enter.
Patel is expected to announce that thousands of Ukrainians, approximately 7,000 Ukrainians living in the UK on temporary work or student visas, will be allowed to bring their families. Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Kingdom confronted the Home Secretary when he said he did not know if Ukrainians here had been temporarily barred from the family visa scheme before.
The visa application process needs to be facilitated in an effort to clear the backlog of appointments. Any Ukrainians and their family members who have visited the UK in the last five years will be able to come to the country without a new biometric check because of the security checks required for their previous visa.
The Home Office announced last night that 100 plainclothes military personnel would be sent to Poland to help manage visa application centers following a riot alert due to lack of appointments and support. Despite more than 23,000 applications, only 957 visas have been issued so far.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Ukraine Vadim Pristiko has called on ministers to go further and temporarily waive visa requirements for refugees. He told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that at least Britain should have a safety check on children, telling MPs that young people fleeing Russia’s violence were “certainly not terrorists”. Pristico said his own wife fought for a visa because of “bureaucratic trouble” when she first visited Britain in 2020.
The changes proposed by Patel were criticized as “tinkering around the edge”, said Refugee Council chief executive Enver Solomon, who called for the lifting of all visa checks. He said the government was “prioritizing bureaucracy and paperwork for those who fled for their lives and those who were injured”. Solomon added: “It must adopt a system that treats them as refugees.” Patel has come under increasing pressure for Britain’s chaotic response to the refugee crisis, with more than two million people fleeing since Russia invaded. According to official sources, the Prime Minister is disappointed with the rate at which visas are being issued.
A source said: “We have set a very generous offer. We just have to provide it and make sure that people can come to the UK instead of getting stuck in the process. “
In public, Johnson defended the UK’s policy towards refugees, saying he hoped the number would reach “hundreds of thousands”. He put pressure on his home secretary, insisting the numbers would rise “very sharply”.
Michael Gove, the community secretary, is expected to announce tomorrow the details of a humanitarian route that will allow Ukrainian refugees to enter the UK without family ties.
On LBC radio last night, Cameron was asked by presenter Andrew Marr if the ministers on Ukrainian refugees were behind the national mood. The former prime minister replied: “They.”
Cameron said he hopes the new refugee minister, Richard Harrington, will speed up the flow of refugees. He added: “We have to get it done, the prime minister wants to do it and I’m sure it will be.”