Ukraine visa scheme isn't a 'shambles' - Priti Patel is on the case, says George Eustice

11 April 2022, 08:57

'I don't think it's a shambles': Minister defends refugee scheme

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Minister George Eustice has insisted the UK's visa scheme for Ukrainian refugees is not a "shambles", as he assured LBC Home Secretary Priti Patel is "on the case".

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The Environment Secretary was grilled by Nick Ferrari about the scheme, which has been strongly criticised for its sluggish approach to processing the visas of people fleeing Vladimir Putin's invasion.

Over 40,000 visas have now been granted but just 12,000 refugees have arrived in the UK so far, according to the latest figures.

Government figures show just 1,200 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the UK through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, with another 10,800 refugees arriving under the Ukrainian family scheme.

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Nick compared this to 20,000 Ukrainians who have already been welcomed into Ireland, and pointed out that even Conservative MPs have admitted struggling with the process.

Mr Eustice said: "I don't think it's a shambles but Priti Patel herself is obviously on the case with this, she's been very clear that she'll make further changes should they be needed.

"They've already made some changes, so removing the need for instance for Ukranian passport holders to actually attend any kind of interview in person to allow them to come straight through, so some changes and improvements have been made.

"I'm sure that Priti Patel will be looking at this closely and making other changes should that be required to unblock any bottlenecks that might be in the system."

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Nick responded that Ms Patel had "been looking at it for two weeks" and that "you may as well give her a microscope".

"Some of them are and as you said 12,000 visas have been issued and around 40,000 have now been processed so people are now starting to come through," Mr Eustice insisted.

"I've seen reports myself of some of the glitches and some of the questions people were being asked and I know she's working constantly to try and simplify that and clear things so that things work more smoothly."

Ms Patel has denied visa requirements and checks are slowing the process and causing delays, insisting the UK will "absolutely see changes in numbers" as work continues.

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