Ukrainian refugees arriving in UK on official visas break 100,000 barrier

Number of people fleeing the war for sanctuary in Britain reaches 104,000

A welcome hub centre for arriving Ukrainians at St Pancras Station in London. Getty
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More than 100,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine have received sanctuary in the UK through its visa schemes, British government figures indicate.

The 104,000 includes 31,300 people under the family project, which entails refugees staying with relatives already in the UK, and 72,700 people signed up to the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, under which people live with volunteer families.

The figures also show that, as of Tuesday, 198,200 applications had been made for visas, with 166,200 issued.

These include 55,000 applications under the family scheme, of which 47,200 visas have been granted, and 143,200 applications for the sponsorship scheme, of which 119,000 visas have been granted.

Overall, 62.6 per cent of those who have been issued with visas under either scheme have reached the UK. Those fleeing Ukraine can live in the UK for up to three years under the current agreement.

Poland, a European Union nation with a lengthy Ukraine border, was the major first stop for people leaving the war zone.

From there, in theory, refugees were able to move into other countries for longer stays as the EU tried to operate an open-doors policy.

The UK, now outside the EU, was criticised for having a slow, restrictive and sometimes chaotic refugee policy.

In April, sponsors said more than 800 Ukrainian refugees were forced to wait several weeks to enter the UK under the Homes for Ukraine programme.

The programme was branded “heartless and inhumane” by Angela Le Roux, who is sponsoring a Ukrainian family in Britain.

Ms Le Roux said she had been reduced to tears by “rude” government officials.

Other incidents faced by Ukrainians attempting to come to the UK have included a child’s passport expiring before he received his visa, which required him to begin his application process again.

Refugees, sponsors and even Home Office employees drafted in to work on the Homes for Ukraine project have complained of confusion and of the programme's slow pace.

As of April 18, only 6,600 Ukrainians had arrived in Britain in the first five weeks of the sponsorship initiative.

Updated: July 28, 2022, 10:34 AM