More visas approved for Ukrainian refugees in Leeds despite government criticism of processing delays

They come amid criticism that the UK government is not granting visas quickly enough, leaving families and sponsors in limbo.

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The Ukraine Sponsorship Program, also known as Homes for Ukraine, allows citizens to volunteer to house refugees fleeing war in Ukraine.

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Figures show that more visas have been approved for Ukrainian refugees. Credit: PA

Sponsors agree to offer accommodation for at least six months, with sponsored persons allowed to live, work and study in the UK for up to three years.

Headquarters data shows that on Tuesday April 26, the number of visas issued to Leeds-based sponsors stood at 345 – up from 66 on April 6, when local figures on the scheme were first published.

Across the UK, 51,300 visas had been issued by April 27, around 69% of the 74,700 applications made by that date.

The proportion of people waiting has fallen since April 7, when only 12,500 requests were issued out of 43,600 requests.

But the number of Ukrainians who have come to the UK through the scheme remains low, with the latest national figures showing just 11,100 had arrived by April 25.

The government warned that the data would likely contain duplicate records, while around 2% of sponsors could not be assigned to a local area.

Some warn that processing delays are impacting the number of refugees able to get to the UK, with reports of families unable to travel due to individual members not being granted visas.

Stephen Kinnock, shadow immigration minister, said it was “really inspiring” to see so many UK homes opening their doors to fleeing refugees.

But he also criticized the UK government‘s handling of the scheme, saying problems with visa processing had created a “bureaucratic nightmare”.

Refugees have also arrived through the Ukraine Family Scheme, which allows Ukrainian nationals to join family members in the UK.

As of April 27, 34,900 visas had been issued under this program nationwide, of which 16,000 people had arrived by April 25.

Local data on this program is not yet available.

A UK Government spokesperson said: ‘The changes made by the Home Office to streamline the visa system, including simplifying forms and increasing staff, are working and we are now processing visas as quickly they arrive – allowing thousands more Ukrainians to pass through our uncapped roads.


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Edward L. Robinett