Doncaster man criticises 'lack of planning' in UK visa scheme for refugees

A man from the Ukrainian community in Doncaster has said there has been a "lack of planning" in the visa system for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

More than two million people have fled the war, but only around 800 people have been granted visas by the Home Office to come to the UK.

Paul Iwanyckyj is trying to help his second cousin come to join his family in South Yorkshire but says the lack of clarity has left him feeling powerless.

He told ITV News: "There's been a lack of foresight and planning a lot of this was foreseen and there's a lack of staffing, lack of meaningful systems and there's an over-reliance on bureaucracy.

"It's humanity that's missing, it makes you feel immensely powerless."

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.

Paul said that the Home Office's approach was in contrast to the immense generosity that people had shown to people caught up in the conflict.

Hundreds of items were donated to the Doncaster Ukrainian Centre, so many that a large number to be given to local charities as not all of them could be shipped to the Polish border.

The Prime Minister told PMQs this afternoon that the details of the sponsor scheme for refugees would be made available in the coming days.

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

There's also, 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.