Priti Patel, the UK Home Secretary, is facing legal action over delays that have exposed thousands of Ukrainians to trauma and Russian bombing or left them stranded in eastern Europe.
UK sponsors under the Homes for Ukraine visa scheme are threatening to take legal action against the Government on behalf of hundreds of Ukrainians who submitted visa applications to travel to the UK several weeks ago, but who have yet to receive a decision due to “inordinate and unreasonable delays” and visa backlogs.
Lawyers representing the groups are understood to be preparing a pre-action protocol letter to send to the Home Office this week.
Several charities, including Save the Children and the Refugee Council, stated that the Homes for Ukraine initiative needed to be reformed immediately since it was harming vulnerable children and putting “trauma on top of existing trauma” following Russia’s invasion.
The persistent delays have been exacerbated by the Home Office’s failure to notify successful applicants when several visas are approved. The Government said on Thursday that it was aware of the issue following concerns expressed by MPs from across the Commons about families waiting up to five weeks for a response to their application.
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.”