Ukrainians left in limbo trying to reach UK over Home Office 'glitch'

Thousands of Ukrainian refugees are left in limbo after Home Office glitch sparked confusion over how many forms to fill out – as families claim red tape hell requires fathers fighting on front to send letters of consent

  • Thousands of Ukrainian families are left in the lurch after a Home Office ‘glitch’ 
  • Separate visa application forms are required for each individual refugee 
  • Furious row has erupted over delays for Homes for Ukraine scheme’s progress 
  • 1,200 refugees have arrived in UK as part of the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship
  • Has your application been delayed? Email Jacob.Thorburn@mailonline.co.uk 
  • Thousands of Ukrainian refugees hoping to come to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme have been left in the lurch after a Home Office glitch meant their applications had not been submitted as expected.

    Has your Homes for Ukraine application been hit with delays?

    Email Jacob.Thorburn@mailonline.co.uk 

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    Confusion over family members having to fill out separate visa application forms, as well as Home Office red tape, has so far frustrated efforts to offer a safe haven for desperate families fleeing a warzone. 

    Homes for Ukraine applicants are expected to state who they will travel to the UK with on each of their 50-page application forms. 

    But Home Office guidance explaining this was only published on March 29 – almost two weeks after the scheme was set up.

    Following a furious row over the cumbersome programme, further troubling examples of nit-picking bureaucracy have come to light as the Government continues to come under fire for the slow processing of visa applications. 

    The ensuing confusion has ensured thousands have been left in limbo as they wait to hear back about the status of their visa application without realising it had not been properly submitted. 

    One UK host who discovered the frustrating result of the glitch is 73-year-old former solicitor Christopher Road, who told the Times his efforts to sponsor two Ukrainians had been delayed by incorrect details being filled out on a passport.

    Despite submitting five visa applications, Halyna Khalanych and her 16-year-old son Dmytro were left stranded at Poland’s Rzeszow airport after they were refused boarding for their flight after a Home Office official realised the error. 

    Mr Road described the ordeal as a ‘a total nightmare’. ‘It gets worse and worse,’ he added.

    Following a furious row over the cumbersome programme, further troubling examples of nit-picking bureaucracy have come to light as the Government continues to come under fire for the slow processing of visa applications. Pictured: A mother and son arrive at Przemysl railway station, Poland

    Following a furious row over the cumbersome programme, further troubling examples of nit-picking bureaucracy have come to light as the Government continues to come under fire for the slow processing of visa applications. Pictured: A mother and son arrive at Przemysl railway station, Poland 

    Home Secretary Priti Patel last week apologised 'with frustration' over the amount of time it was taking for Ukrainians to arrive in the UK under current visa schemes

    Home Secretary Priti Patel last week apologised ‘with frustration’ over the amount of time it was taking for Ukrainians to arrive in the UK under current visa schemes

    In only six weeks of war in Ukraine, close to five million children have been forced to flee their homes and immigrate as refugees to neighbouring countries. Pictured: Ukrainian mothers in Krakow, Poland attend a protest against the killing of children in Ukraine

    In only six weeks of war in Ukraine, close to five million children have been forced to flee their homes and immigrate as refugees to neighbouring countries. Pictured: Ukrainian mothers in Krakow, Poland attend a protest against the killing of children in Ukraine 

    Ms Khalanych and Dmytro had first applied for visas under the Homes for Ukraine project on March 18, four days after the scheme opened.

    Road, who had previously employed Ms Khalanych as a cleaner, submitted a single application for the mother and her child, but was told that he needed separate applications for each a week later on March 25.

    He told the Times he called the Home Office helpline, run by private contractor TLScontact, to check the progress of the applications, but was told he would not be receiving an update as they could not access the Home Office’s database. 

    Road had to resubmit his fourth and fifth applications on March 26 because documents proving Ms Khalanych’s residence in Ukraine had not been added to their applications. 

    He said he had ignored an ‘incredulous’ request asking for a letter of consent from Dmytro’s father to allow his underage son to travel – despite the fact his father was fighting with the Ukrainian armed forces.

    On Tuesday, April 5, despite supporting documents being written in Ukrainian, and without a letter of consent, Ms Khalanych and Dmytro’s visa applications were processed and they were given ‘permissions to travel’. 

    Other examples of the bureaucratic web delaying visa applications have come to light in recent days.

    Mother-to-be Anastasia Dulkai, 32, is one of thousands of desperate Ukrainians left in the lurch by delays to the UK’s refugee visa scheme.

    At 33 weeks pregnant, she faces the prospect of giving birth in a war zone if her application is not given the green light soon – as pregnant women are advised not to fly after 35 weeks.  

    People who fled the war in Ukraine rest inside an indoor sports stadium being used as a refugee center, in the village of Medyka, a border crossing between Poland and Ukraine

    People who fled the war in Ukraine rest inside an indoor sports stadium being used as a refugee center, in the village of Medyka, a border crossing between Poland and Ukraine








    She has been left feeling ‘extremely nervous’, having not heard anything since UK hosts Joanne and Andrew Bingham, applied to sponsor them almost two weeks ago. 

    Mrs Bingham, 58, who lives near Leatherhead, Surrey, slammed the application process as ‘slow and laborious’. 

    She added: ‘The clock is ticking – with each passing day I know they’re getting more stressed. 

    ‘The stress could very well cause the baby to come prematurely, and they’ll have to have it at home with no medical help or support. It’s just such a horrible situation.’ 

    Last month, the Government announced the launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme which will pay families £350-a-month to take in those fleeing Russian brutality for at least six months. 

    Within hours of the scheme launching, the website for registering interest had crashed and subsequently more than 200,000 people signed up to the programme.

    Some 10,800 people had arrived under the Ukraine family scheme but only 1,200 had made it to the UK as part of the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme since Tuesday, April 5, provisional data published on the department’s website showed. 

    Home Secretary Priti Patel has been forced to apologise over delays to the visa scheme. 

    Earlier this week, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the Home Secretary was ‘looking very closely at this to look at whatever else can be done to remove any barriers’.

    He told Sky News: ‘Well obviously it’s different for countries that are bordering the Ukraine, because people fleeing a war like this obviously will cross the nearest land border, and that’s why countries like Poland and Hungary obviously are getting more of those refugees coming in.

    ‘But we have now issued visas under the two schemes we’ve got, in particular the sponsorship scheme, to around 40,000 Ukrainians and around 12,000 of those are already here.

    ‘We’ve made some changes already, making clear for instance that those with a Ukrainian passport don’t need to attend an appointment in person, and I know that Priti Patel’s looking very closely at this to look at whatever else can be done to remove any barriers as and when those arise.’

    Anastasia Dulkai, 32, pictured with her husband Anton Chmyr, is now 33 weeks pregnant and stranded in Ukraine while awaiting her UK refugee visa

    Anastasia Dulkai, 32, pictured with her husband Anton Chmyr, is now 33 weeks pregnant and stranded in Ukraine while awaiting her UK refugee visa








    A government spokesman said: ‘We continue to process visas for the Homes for Ukraine scheme as quickly as possible, but accept progress has not been quick enough.’

    The developments come as families arriving under the new visa scheme say they are still struggling to access cash while they wait for benefits and are having to be put up in hotels.

    The chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), councillor James Jamieson, said councils need to be told in advance who is arriving under the family scheme and given funding so they can support them.

    He said: ‘Councils are already seeing a concerning increase in homelessness presentations from Ukraine arrivals – including those who have arrived via the family scheme and where the families’ accommodation is not suitable or the relationship has broken down shortly after arrival – and lone children arriving in the UK needing support.’ 

    The British Red Cross said it has had to refer people to homelessness charities, local authorities and housing associations due to problems getting funds or accommodation. In some cases it has had to fund short-term accommodation itself as an emergency measure.

    In one example, a mother and her five children were put up in a hotel by a council after arriving under the family visa scheme.

    They are struggling to set up a bank account without proof of address, and without a bank account they cannot complete an application for universal credit.

    Alex Fraser, British Red Cross director of refugee support and restoring family links, added: ‘We’re increasingly concerned about the access to information about support people are receiving when they arrive.

    ‘We’re seeing an increasing number of calls to our support line from Ukrainians struggling to get cash and housing, and British families desperate to help but being prevented by the system.’

    The Refugee Council accused the Government of ‘choosing control over compassion’ after figures were published showing that 12,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the UK under visa schemes.

    Chief executive Enver Solomon said Britons who are prepared to open up their homes have been left feeling ‘angry and frustrated that their gesture of support has been lost into a web of bureaucracy and chaos’.

    He said the Government must waive visas as an immediate short-term measure and then introduce a ‘simplified emergency humanitarian visa process’. 

    • Has your Homes for Ukraine sponsorship bid been delayed? Email Jacob.Thorburn@mailonline.co.uk