Ukrainians stuck in limbo in France as they struggle to be allowed into Britain

Chloe Keedy reports on the endless waiting Ukrainians are forced through when they arrive in France, hoping to travel to the UK

1500 miles from their home in Kyiv, Andrey and his daughter Anya have made it as far as Calais. But the family, along with their pet dog and three guinea pigs, now faces a four hour drive to Paris.

Their home in Kyiv has been destroyed and they want to travel to the UK so that they can live with Anya’s grandmother in Worcester. They have applied for visas online, but have been told they need to go to Paris for an in-person appointment before they can be approved. "We need to do this", Anya told me, "but why? I don’t have the answer to that question." Today, the government promised to make things simpler for families like hers.

The Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a new digital visa system which will open next Tuesday.

Anya has been told her family needs to go to Paris for an in-person appointment before they can be approved into the UK.

‘In short’, she told the Commons, "Ukrainians with passports can get permission fully online and will be able to give their biometrics once they’re in Britain."

The new system, much like the current one, will only be open to Ukrainians with family members already in the UK.

So what about everyone else? The government has promised a second scheme, where charities, businesses and community groups can sponsor Ukrainians without family ties to the UK. But there is no news yet on when that will start.

Anya and her family are travelling with their pet dog and three guinea pigs.

That leaves Roksolana Moknenko and her family in limbo. For the past week they have been sleeping in a refuge in Calais, but yesterday they were taken by bus to a hotel near Lille - 60 miles further away from the English Channel. "I don’t know why they did that", Roxy told me. She said she has no idea how long she will have to stay there for. Her home in Ukraine has also been destroyed, and she wants to make a new one in England. "It’s really hard to learn a new language, to be in new culture", she told me.

"Why do I have to do that if I know English, I know England, I know people there … and I know the jokes!"

Roksolana Moknenko and her family have been sleeping in a refuge in Calais for the past week.

Roxy’s hotel is on the outskirts of Lille, where the Home Office opened a new ‘pop up’ Visa Application Centre today.

They announced it on Tuesday, before clarifying yesterday that there would be no walk-in or booked appointments available there, and advising people still to go to the permanent centres in Paris or Brussels as their ‘first port of call’.

In a further development, ITV News understands the pop up centre in Lille will be moved to Arras tomorrow, another 40 minutes away by car. It’s been a confusing week for Ukrainian refugees reaching Calais.

The new scheme should mean Ukrainians with the right paperwork don’t have to travel to Paris, Brussels or Lille, but they will still have to wait somewhere while their visa is processed.

It’s not yet clear how long that will take, but more families were arriving in Calais today, to join those that have already grown accustomed to waiting.