Priti Patel Announces Easing Of Ukraine Refugee Rules In Major U-Turn

Labour's Yvette Cooper told her the government’s handling of the crisis had been “shameful”.
Patel and Cooper
Patel and Cooper
HuffPost UK

Priti Patel has unveiled plans to make it easier for Ukrainian refugees to come to the UK following fierce criticism of how she has handled the issue.

The home secretary said that from Tuesday, those fleeing war in their homeland with passports will no longer need to go to visa centres and can apply online.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper told her the government’s handling of the refugee crisis had been “shameful”.

Patel had previously blamed security concerns for the government’s refusal to offer asylum to all Ukrainian refugees, as EU countries have done.

She told the Commons she had now received assurances which enabled her to make changes to the scheme which allows Ukrainians in the UK to bring family members to this country.

“From Tuesday, I can announce that Ukrainians with passports will no longer need to go to a visa application centre to give their biometrics before they come to the UK,” she said.

“Instead, once their application has been considered and appropriate checks completed, they will receive direct notification that they’re eligible for the scheme and can come to the UK.

“In short, Ukrainians with passports will be able to get permission to come here fully online from wherever they are and will be able to give their biometrics once in Britain.

“This will mean that visa application centres across Europe can focus their efforts on helping Ukrainians without passports.”

The home office has come under fierce pressure from opposition and Tory MPs to simplify the system which allows family members of people settled in the UK to join their relatives.

The current visa route is restricted to family members of people settled in the UK. Another promised route, that will allow people and companies to sponsor Ukrainians to come to the UK, has not yet been established.

It comes as more than two million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

The EU is allowing visa-free travel for refugees fleeing Ukraine but the UK insists they are necessary to guarantee security.

Patel said the intelligence and security agencies were providing her with regular threat assessments, adding: “What happened in Salisbury showed what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is willing to do on our soil.

“It also demonstrated that a small number of people with evil intentions can wreak havoc on our streets.”

Cooper said: “This has just been shameful, making vulnerable people push from pillar to post in their hour of need – week after week we have seen this happen.

“It is deeply wrong to leave people in this terrible state. Our country is better than this. If she can’t get this sorted out, frankly she should hand the job over to somebody else who can.”


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