UK expands visa program for Ukrainian refugees amid criticism – POLITICO

LONDON – Britain may welcome more than 200,000 refugees fleeing the Ukraine war after relaxing visa requirements amid anger over their response so far.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told the House of Commons on Tuesday that people already settled in the UK would be able to bring more relatives to the UK from Ukraine, and announced a new visa scheme for those without. family link.

Ministers have faced criticism from MPs for not being as generous as the EU in its own offer to Ukrainians fleeing Russian violence. The 27-nation bloc has announced it will not limit the number of people fleeing Ukraine and will allow stays of one to three years.

The UK government on Tuesday said UK settlers will be able to bring their parents, grandparents, children over 18 and their siblings, in addition to the closest qualifying relatives. apply for a visa.

Patel said this could boost the number of Ukrainian refugees moving to Britain via family migration to around 200,000, double the government’s previous estimate.

There will also be a new humanitarian sponsor visa route for Ukrainians with no family links in the UK. Ukrainians applying for this visa will need to match charities, businesses and community groups, and there will be no limit to the number of people coming through this program.

All Ukrainians through these programs will be given at least a year’s leave, allowed to work and access to public services, she added. Promotion Minister Michael Gove will be in charge of the program.

“We are doing the right thing by the brave people of Ukraine,” said Patel.

However, the UK will not suspend any security or biometric visa requirements, which Downing Street said remains a “fundamental part” of the UK visa process. Patel echoed those security concerns, saying there are “extremists on the ground” in Ukraine and that the government must also take into account Vladimir Putin’s “willingness to commit violence on British soil”.

“We have a common mission to keep the British people safe and this approach is based on the strongest security advice,” she said. UK expands visa program for Ukrainian refugees amid criticism - POLITICO

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