Exclusive

'Incomprehensible': Brit's wife 'ordered to go 500 miles to war-torn Kyiv' for UK visa

11 March 2022, 07:00 | Updated: 11 March 2022, 07:48

Richard and Tetyana endured a tortuous visa process
Richard and Tetyana endured a tortuous visa process. Picture: Richard Spinks
Rachael Venables

By Rachael Venables

A Ukrainian woman who is married to a Brit was ordered to travel 500 miles into war-torn Kyiv for a visa appointment with the Home Office despite government promises to get more relatives into the UK.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

It’s another damning story of mismanagement for the Government, which has been criticised for their handling of the refugee crisis.

British man Richard Spinks lives in Lviv with his Ukrainian wife Tetyana and their two British sons. As the war began, they tried to get to the UK.

Read more: Army on standby to help Ukraine refugees but Govt 'hasn't bothered', says Lisa Nandy

Read more: Ukraine will not be 'chopped up' for a peace deal, Zelenskyy's advisor tells LBC

He says their experience had already been plagued with confusion and incompetence.

Richard told LBC: "On Tuesday I got a message from the outsourced subcontracting company essentially saying 'Don't forget you've got to be in Kyiv tomorrow to do your biometrics. Don't be late.

"We are now two and a half weeks past doing the biometrics, we're in a completely different country, thankfully we're not in a dangerous place.

"But many people probably are, and now potentially they're going to be struggling through a war zone, past Russians, to get to an appointment that doesn't exist.

"It's beyond incomprehensible to me."

They first heard she had been granted her visa on the 26th February, as they queued in their car in a 46-hour long wait to get to Poland.

Read more: Chelsea in crisis: Three axe £40m sponsorship deal as Abramovich hit with sanctions

Read more: 'Mark my words': Andrew Marr warns National Insurance hike will be a 'very big story'

LBC has seen the visa emails
LBC has seen the visa emails. Picture: LBC
The emails confirmed an appointment
The emails confirmed an appointment. Picture: LBC

A Home Office representative promised they would be in touch that weekend with plane tickets to the UK.

Nearly two weeks later, they’re still waiting.

Then, on Tuesday 8th March, they received an email by the Home Office visa and consulate contractor TLS Contact.

That email reminded her to attend an appointment booked for 3.20pm the following day, at the Artem Business Centre in war-torn Kyiv.

That’s despite the office in Ukraine’s capital having been closed since the war began, due to the risk to staff.

Richard added: "I’d now love to know how many of the ‘granted’ visas have actually materialised into people turning up in the UK on planes and ferries, because I’d have a bet that there aren’t many.

"It’s like you’ve won the lottery but the cheque never shows up!"

Read more: David Cameron calls on Govt to make visa system easier for Ukrainian refugees

Read more: Former Radio 1 DJ Mark Page jailed for 12 years for string of child sex offences

Our UK Visa Application Centre in Kyiv is closed until further notice
Our UK Visa Application Centre in Kyiv is closed until further notice. Picture: Website screenshot

The Home Office wouldn’t comment on the specific case, but said in a statement: "Last week we announced a new sponsorship route which will allow Ukrainians with no family ties to the UK to be sponsored to come to the UK.

"This is alongside our Ukraine Family Scheme, which has already seen thousands of people apply, as well as changes to visas so that people can stay in the UK safely. We are protecting appointments for Ukrainians at all our Visa Application Centres, with a 24/7 helpline in place and deployed additional staff across the EU to help speed up the process further.

"The routes we have put in place follow extensive engagement with Ukrainian partners. This is a rapidly moving and complex picture and as the situation develops we will continue to keep our support under constant review."

Read more: Woman rescued parents from Ukraine after six-day drive before being held up in Calais

Read more: 'Ukrainian propaganda': Russia says pic of pregnant woman in hospital attack is 'fake'

Yesterday the Home Secretary said that from Tuesday, passport-holders trying to get to the UK will be able to apply online. While Ukraine’s ambassador to Britain revealed that he struggled to get a visa for his wife to come with him to Britain when he was appointed.

Vadym Prystaiko said the UK's immigration policy had been bureaucratic and out of line with the rest of Europe "even before the war".

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

More strikes are taking place on Saturday

Weekend travel chaos as another day of strikes leaves just a fifth of train network running

Mr Gove has backed Mr Sunak

Michael Gove backs Rishi Sunak in Tory leadership race - as he says Truss campaign has taken 'holiday from reality'

Boulter bit the PD Xander on the head

Man bites police dog on the head after lashing out at officer during arrest

Sanna Marin said she has taken a drug test

Finnish PM takes drug test as new video of her partying emerges

Alamy/Handout

Isis 'Beatle' from London jailed for life in US for role in hostage taking and beheading plot

Sir Alex was in court on Friday

'I never saw Giggs lose temper' Man Utd's legendary ex-manager Sir Alex Ferguson tells trial

Keeping Up Appearances actress Josephine Tewson has died

Keeping Up Appearances star Josephine Tewson dies aged 91

The Environment Agency has issued 'do not swim' orders for 22 beaches in England amid fears sewage discharged from rainwater overflows may have polluted the waters.

'Do not swim' at 22 beaches in England after sewage discharge, Environment Agency warns

Ryan Giggs told his PR executive girlfriend Kate Greville she was "the jam in my donut"

‘Jam in my donut’: Court hears more of Ryan Giggs’ poetry and text exchanges with his ex

A man has appeared at the Old Bailey (right) accused of stabbing a man in a restaurant on London's Poland Street

Chef, 60, ‘stabbed worker to death in Soho Korean restaurant after row about food prep’

Thomas Nutt, 46, killed Dawn Walker hours after their wedding, storing her body in a cupboard before putting it in a suitcase and dumping it in bushes behind their home in Shirley Grove, Lightcliffe, near Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Killer husband who murdered wife on wedding night and hid body in suitcase jailed for life

Brits are scrambling to update their Apple devices after a major security flaw was found

Millions told to update Apple tech 'right now' after major security issue leaves devices vulnerable to hackers

klajeflakjf

NHS warns surging energy bills could cause 'humanitarian crisis' this winter

There are warnings the cost of a pint could reach as high as £14 in London in years to come

Price of pint in London could reach £14 and takeaway coffee nearly a fiver in coming years, research suggests

Exclusive
Melvin Terry waited for 27 hours in A&E before being sent home

Hospital apologises after grandfather, 76, spent 27 hours waiting for A&E bed before being sent home

The girl was allegedly abducted from Warne Avenue, Droylsden

Man, 23, arrested on suspicion of abduction and sexual assault of girl, 6, in Droylsden