Can I offer my home to Ukrainian refugees and why have so few reached the UK?

Nigerian students who fled Kyiv after the Russian attack on Ukraine are offered sanctuary in Germany. Credit: AP

Thousands of people from across Europe have been driving hundreds of miles to the Ukrainian border, collecting them, and putting a roof over their head in a safe country.

But people from the UK eager to offer a home to Ukrainian refugees will encounter the obstacle of Britain's immigration policy.

While the EU has waived visa requirements entirely for those fleeing the Russian invasion, allowing an unlimited number of Ukrainians to resettle for up to three years - the UK is a lot more strict.

Schemes for Ukrainian refugees to enter UK

There are two schemes for Ukrainian refugees; the first allows them to enter the UK for up to three years if they have extended family - such as parents, grandparents, children and siblings - already there.

Ukrainians who want to enter under this scheme must have family who is one of the following:

• A British citizen • Has UK settled status, proof of permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain • Someone with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK• An EU, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swiss, or Liechtenstein national with pre-settled status, who started living in the UK before 1 January 2021

The government says this scheme will allow around 200,000 people to seek sanctuary in the UK, with the Office for National Statistics estimating that between 25,000 to 40,000 Ukrainians already live there.

Under the second scheme, Ukrainians with no ties to Britain will be able to enter the UK so long as they have a sponsor - business or individual - who can provide housing and integration support.

Both schemes require Ukrainians to be approved for UK visas, which involves them passing biometric security checks but normal requirements for salary or language tests will be waived.

Can I offer my home to Ukrainian refugees?

Boris Johnson told MPs at PMQs that the sponsorship route will allow "everybody in this country can offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine".

An unlimited number of Ukrainians will be able to enter the UK, as long as they have a sponsor, which could be an individual, community, local authority or business.

They will be able to work and the sponsor would provide housing and integration support.

The government says it "will work closely with international partners and neighbouring countries on the scheme to ensure that displaced Ukrainians forced to flee their homes are supported to apply".

Those who want to sponsor an individual or family will be matched quickly with Ukrainians in need, the government said, working closely with the devolved administrations and local authorities across the country.

Mr Johnson said further details of the scheme will be announced in the coming days by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

In the meantime, people can register with that they have accommodation available and the website will link those eager to help with Ukrainians who need it.

There's also - it's a UK charity which connects those with a spare room in their home to refugees and asylum seekers in need of somewhere to stay.

The website is currently asking that only people who live in cities get in touch as it has seen a massive increase in host applications since the Russian invasion began.

"At this time it may take longer than usual to get back to you- but we will," the website says.

Why wont the UK waive visa rules?

The SNP's Ian Blackford is among most vocal critics of the UK's refusal to waive visa rules, saying the UK had "overseen one of the slowest, most bureaucratic, and incompetent refugee responses in Europe".

He urged Prime Minister Johnson to join with the rest of the European continent and waive the visa restrictions for refugees fleeing war in Ukraine?"

But the UK is refusing, citing concerns Russian troops could infiltrate the system in order to launch attacks on British soil.

Boris Johnson said: "We know how unscrupulous Putin can be in his methods, it would not be right to expose this country to unnecessary security risk and we will not do it.

"We are going to be as generous as we can possibly be, but we must have checks."

How many Ukrainians have been granted visas so far?

The latest figures say 957 Ukrainians have been granted visas so far, since the start of the war.

Prime Minister Johnson said that number will soon rise "very sharply".

The Home Office is currently processing 22,000 applications, Grant Shapps told ITV News and there are now around 6,000 appointments available each day. More than two million Ukrainians have already fled their country and it has been estimated that number could very quickly grow to four million if the Russian invasion continues. Poland alone has taken more than 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees so far.

Why have so few Ukrainians been granted visas?

Ukraine's ambassador to the UK said very few Ukrainians will want to leave eastern Europe because they hope to return to their homes soon.

And President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wants as many people as possible to remain in the region so they can quickly return to rebuild the country when it is safe to do so, Transport Secretary Shapps told ITV News.

But tens of thousands of Ukrainians do want to enter the UK and have encountered bureaucratic obstacles.

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Hundreds of people who arrived at Calais have been sent to visa application centres hours away, according to various reports.

They've been told to travel to visa centres in Brussels and Paris, where some have been offered appointments up to a week away.

The government announced it was setting up a visa centre closer to Calais in Lille, but the move was criticised over distance people would have to travel after arriving in Calais.

Explaining why Lille was chosen for the visa centre, Mr Shapps said: "We do not want to see this mixed up with the wider issue of people traffickers and criminal gangs in Calais, so we don't want to attract people to Calais without having the paperwork resolved in the first place before they get there."