UK Home Secretary Priti Patel formally launched the Ukraine family visa scheme for British citizens and those settled in the UK to bring over their Ukrainian relatives impacted by the conflict with Russia.
The British Indian minister, who was in Medyka in eastern Poland on the border with Ukraine to witness the situation on the ground, said the family scheme visas will be offered free of charge and allow permission to remain in the UK for three years to Ukrainian family members of UK-based nationals and those with permanent residency.
“It’s heart-breaking to have met families, women and children forced from their homeland because of the monstrous Russian invasion,” Priti Patel said after her visit to a reception centre for Ukrainian refugees in Medyka, accompanied by Polish Deputy Interior Minister Bartosz Grodecki (pictured).
She noted: “Our expanded Ukraine Family Scheme is now fully open and to see the first people who will apply was wonderful. While we want people to be able to return to their homes at the end of this diabolical invasion, giving thousands of people a route to the UK is the right thing to do.
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“The whole of the UK is united in our condemnation of Russia’s barbaric and cold-blooded actions and the government is doing everything possible to make certain our humanitarian support is in Ukraine’s best interests.”
UK Home Office staff have also travelled to Poland to provide advice to refugees, including processing visas and ensuring a rapid visa service to help with the flow of people coming over the Ukrainian border.
The Home Office said a new pop-up Visa Application Centre in Rzeszow, Poland, has also been opened and the combined total number of visa appointments in the region will increase to 6,000 from next week.
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"The British government will do everything it can to support the Ukrainian people at this critical moment as they fight for freedom,” Priti Patel added.
The visa, which was initially intended for immediate family, has been expanded to include parents, grandparents and siblings. A separate sponsorship scheme will also allow individuals and organisations to bring Ukrainians to the UK.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK could take in 200,000 or more Ukrainians under these initiatives.