UK: Home Secretary supports first Ukrainians through new Family Scheme
Home Secretary Priti Patel has reiterated her pledge to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Ukraine as she met refugees on the Polish border today.
It comes as the Home Office launched its Ukraine Family Scheme, which will allow thousands of families to be reunited in the UK.
The Home Secretary visited a reception centre for Ukrainian refugees in Medyka, one of the main border crossings between Poland and Ukraine. Accompanied by Poland’s Deputy Interior Minister Bartosz Grodecki, she met with families, women and children who will apply to join family members in the UK.
She spoke to them about the UK Government’s Ukraine Family Scheme, which allows immediate and extended family members of British nationals and people settled in the UK to come to the country, and announced that those joining family through the Scheme will now be granted leave for 3 years – giving them certainty and ensuring their future in the country.
Expert Home Office staff have 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.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
It’s heart-breaking to have met families, women and children forced from their homeland because of the monstrous Russian invasion.
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.
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.
These routes have been developed following close consultation with Ukrainian leaders and leaders in the region to ensure our measures respond directly to their needs and asks. On the visit Deputy Interior Minister Bartosz Grodecki spoke about the UK’s continued support in the region.
The Home Office has already increased capacity to other countries including Hungary, Poland and Moldova. A new pop-up Visa Application Centre in Rzeszow, Poland, has been opened, while the combined total number of appointments in the region will increase to 6,000 from next week.
This forms part of the wider effort to support Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion. The UK continues to back Ukraine with defensive weapons and economic support as well as £220 million in emergency and humanitarian aid.
The Ukraine Family Scheme is part of a series of measures that have already been announced:
- Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced that we are working at pace to establish the Local Sponsorship Scheme for Ukraine for Ukrainians with no ties to the UK to come here. The uncapped route will allow sponsors, such as communities or local authorities to bring people to the UK. Sponsored individuals will be able to work and the sponsor would provide housing and integration support
- Last week the Home Secretary confirmed that flexibility would be available to support Ukrainians who are on work, study or visit visas to switch to different visa routes extending their stay and those on seasonal work visas would have their leave temporarily extended
- The Home Office established 24/7 bespoke helplines to support people through the Ukrainian Humanitarian Route
- The Home Secretary has also shut down the Tier 1 investor visa route, to ensure people who have profited from dirty money cannot gain access to the UK, and the government will continue to crack down to tackle those beneficiaries of illicit wealth who may have previously abused the system and should not be here