Home Office slams door shut on main route for Ukrainian refugees to enter UK | Politics | News | EUROtoday

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The Home Office has scrapped a key visa route utilized by tens of hundreds of Ukrainian refugees to flee Vladimir Putin, it has emerged.

Ministers shut down the Ukraine Family Scheme route – which allowed individuals to use to affix their family members dwelling within the UK – to “strengthen and improve the sustainability of the schemes we provide”.

Some 71,900 Ukrainians have been issued visas by way of this route.

The surprising modifications got here into pressure at 3pm on Monday.

But Legal Migration minister Tom Pursglove insisted most of the candidates might additionally bid to return to the UK by way of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Mr Pursglove mentioned: “The British people have shown incredible generosity and solidarity with the Ukrainian people, opening their homes up to those seeking sanctuary.

“Today, we are making changes to the Ukraine schemes to ensure they remain sustainable and meet the needs of those seeking temporary sanctuary in the UK.

“Under HFU, there are accommodation checks, a minimum accommodation commitment from the sponsor and safeguarding checks, none of which feature in the Ukraine Family Scheme (UFS).

“The UFS was created as an immediate response to the Russian invasion and allowed UK based British citizens and settled persons to act as sponsors for their Ukrainian family members.

“We are, therefore, closing the Ukraine Family Scheme (UFS) to new applications from today. This will strengthen and improve the sustainability of the schemes we provide.”

But legal professionals warned the variety of relations eligible to return to the UK beneath the Homes for Ukraine scheme will likely be curbed by the modifications.

The Home Office additionally prolonged the visas of Ukrainians who sought sanctuary within the UK by 18 months.

New arrivals have been granted three years to stay, that means the primary visas have been because of expire in March 2025.

It means these on the earliest visas can keep till not less than September 2026.

Cllr Roger Gough, Asylum, Refugee and Migration spokesperson for the LGA mentioned: “Councils work incredibly hard to support asylum and resettlement and have helped communities welcome around 200,000 Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war two years ago.

“However, the pressures of multiple asylum and resettlement schemes are still being compounded by chronic housing shortages. This has resulted in a high number of Ukrainians and refugees leaving asylum accommodation having to present as homeless.

“The Government’s announcement of a visa extension is a positive step, providing much needed certainty to Ukrainians.

“But as the visa schemes were designed to provide temporary sanctuary, the funding arrangements for councils to support arrivals need urgent review as councils continue to provide crucial longer-term support, including integration and housing support as sponsorship arrangements come to an end.”