Minister doesn't know how long Ukraine refugee process takes

26 March 2022, 10:09

By Seán Hickey

The Crime and Policing Minister confesses he isn't sure how long it takes for a Ukrainian refugee to arrive in the UK after a successful application.

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"How long is it taking after a successfully filled application form to get somebody from Ukraine to here?" Andrew Castle put the question to Kit Malthouse, Tory MP for North West Hampshire.

The government has come under pressure in recent weeks for a comparatively slow response to the Ukraine refugee crisis.

Whilst most European nations have waived visa requirements for Ukrainians fleeing Vladmir Putin's invasion, the UK has kept a strict visa system in place, with Home Secretary Priti Patel claiming this is to prevent Russia from "infiltrating" the UK.

Instead, the government have implemented the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which allows Brits to house refugees fleeing the war, and have extended visa eligibilities to extended family of people living in the UK, along with opening a sponsorship scheme.

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"On the family route we've done now 20,100, 35,000 applications. We're clearing hundreds of them on a daily basis, if not more. We're trying to do that fast," the Policing Minister said, ignoring Andrew's question about how long the process takes.

"We can be quicker. You are quite right to challenge us on that. We are streamlining the system in place."

"A very central question is how long" Andrew reiterated, asking again "how long is it going to be between a successful application...and somebody in the Home Office...going stamp! They can come?"

"We are accelerating this as fast as we can. I don't have a time for you today," Mr Malthouse admitted.

The Policing Minister concluded by declaring that the Home Office is doing everything to make the process "smoother and faster."