Home Secretary Priti Patel could reportedly face legal action over Ukraine visa delays

Home Secretary Priti Patel. Credit: PA

Home Secretary Priti Patel could reportedly face legal action over delays in the visa system for Ukrainians fleeing the war.

The process has been criticised, with claims of families being unable to travel to the UK because not all of them have received their permission to travel letters or visas.

Lawyers are now preparing a class action on behalf of hundreds of Ukrainians who applied to travel to the UK weeks ago but whose cases have been stuck in a backlog, The Guardian has reported.

Advocates for Ukrainian refugees say it is taking too long for visas to be processed. Credit: James Manning/PA

The newspaper said an immigration lawyer has been instructed to launch legal proceedings by advocacy groups Vigil for Visas and Taking Action Over the Homes for Ukraine Visa Delays.

The Guardian reports that legal action is also being prepared on behalf of lone children who have been unable to access foster placements set up for them in the UK because of visa delays.

A total of 86,100 visas have been issued as of April 27 under the Ukraine Family scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship scheme, a Government spokesperson told the newspaper.

But, as of April 25, just 27,100 Ukrainians had arrived in the UK, according to figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office.

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Anais Crane, a case worker at Wilsons Solicitors who is representing several unaccompanied Ukrainian children, said many are close to giving up hope after waiting for over a month for visas.

“Many of them are now considering returning to Ukraine due to their precarious situations in Europe,” she told The Guardian.

Kirsty McNeill, an executive director at Save the Children said: “Part of (the Government’s) argument for the bureaucracy and the slowness is that it is keeping people safe. But actually it’s a lack of pace that is endangering children more than anything.”

Save the Children is not part of the legal action but said it is supportive of calls to overhaul the system.

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.”