Little Alika Zubets was forced back to war-torn Ukraine after being refused a British visa. But now, in a major government about-face, she may be granted safety
A little girl who was refused a UK visa and then sent back to war-torn Ukraine could now be granted safety.
In a major government reversal, Alika Zubets, four, could start her life anew with her grandmother Tanya, 58.
The four-year-old was turned away from the UK even though her grandmother was granted entry to the UK.
Under the Homes for Ukraine program, Alika was classified as an unaccompanied minor because she was not with either of her parents.
Government guidance on the sponsorship scheme states: “Unaccompanied children and orphans are not eligible to apply under the scheme.
“Under 18s applying to the program must apply with or join their parents or legal guardian in the UK.”
Shockingly, this meant the little girl was then forced to return to her home in Kharkiv, which is being shelled by the Russian invaders.
However, following the Mirror’s story last week about Alika, the government announced yesterday that it has changed visa rules and will start processing applications from unaccompanied children.
Lord Harrington, Secretary of State for Refugees, said: “We have seen demand to allow children to travel with parental consent under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
“We have seen many applications where families want their children to travel safely in the UK but parents cannot travel with them.”
He continued, “We understand that families must make difficult decisions to separate from their children when it is in their best interests to do so, which is why we have expanded the Homes for Ukraine program to accommodate this.”
“It’s important that we’ve taken the time to get this right – we’ve been working across governments and with the Ukrainian government to find a solution to ensure we continue to provide safety to as many Ukrainians as possible and more at the same time.” to be able to welcome children in Britain.”
Unfortunately, Alika’s parents have to stay in Kharkiv, which is 40 kilometers from the Russian border. This is because her father Dima cannot leave the country and mother Arena is the only caregiver for her own disabled mother.
But they had agreed in writing that their daughter would leave with her grandmother in March.
Tanya finally arrived in the UK last Friday and is staying with Dr. Maggie Babb, 53, of Audley, Staffs, who sponsored her and her granddaughter.
Commenting on the government’s about-face, their sponsor Dr. Babb, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Royal Stoke University Hospital: “Of course I’m delighted with her [the Government] I finally saw meaning, but it took way too long.
“This issue should not have arisen in the first place and was brought to the attention of the government in April.
“But it seems they only really respond to media pressure or judicial review.”
Tanya hopes to return to Ukraine in the near future and take Alika with her to the UK, where they already have an extended family.
Under the new rules, children who have already applied for a visa for the Homes for Ukraine program will be allowed to travel to the UK without a parent or legal guardian, subject to sponsor verification.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/girl-4-originally-denied-visa-27305783 Girl, 4, initially denied visa and sent back to Ukraine finally wins British U-turn