Home Secretary Priti Patel could face legal action over Ukraine visa delays

A class action lawsuit is being prepared

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Home Secretary Priti Patel could face legal action over delays in the visa system for Ukrainians fleeing the war.

Would-be sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine visa scheme are threatening the Government on behalf of hundreds of Ukrainian refugees who have spent weeks waiting to come to the UK.

A class action lawsuit is being prepared over “inordinate and unreasonable delays” in processing hundreds of visa applications made in March.

The process has been criticised amid cases of families being unable to travel to the UK because not all of them have received their permission to travel letters or visas.

Home Secretary Priti Patel speaking to the media outside the Ukrainian embassy in London.
Home Secretary Priti Patel speaking to the media outside the Ukrainian embassy in London.

The Guardian reports that legal action is also being prepared on behalf of lone children who have been unable to access foster placements set up for them in the UK because of visa delays.

A total of 86,100 visas have been issued as of April 27 under the Ukraine Family scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship scheme, a Government spokesperson told the newspaper.

But, as of April 25, just 27,100 Ukrainians had arrived in the UK, according to figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office.

Anais Crane, a case worker at Wilsons Solicitors who is representing several unaccompanied Ukrainian children, said many are close to giving up hope after waiting for over a month for visas.

Home Secretary Priti Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel

“Many of them are now considering returning to Ukraine due to their precarious situations in Europe,” she told The Guardian.

Kirsty McNeill, an executive director at Save the Children said: “Part of (the Government’s) argument for the bureaucracy and the slowness is that it is keeping people safe. But actually it’s a lack of pace that is endangering children more than anything.”

Save the Children is not part of the legal action but said it is supportive of calls to overhaul the system.

A Government spokesperson said: “In response to Putin’s barbaric invasion we launched one of the fastest and biggest visa schemes in UK history. Over 86,000 visas have been issued so Ukrainians can live and work in the UK.

“The changes the Home Office has made to streamline the visa system, including simplifying the forms and boosting staff numbers, are working and we are now processing visas as quickly as they come in – enabling thousands more Ukrainians to come through our uncapped routes.”