Ukrainian refugees hosted by Suffolk family cannot get visas to travel to UK


A couple from Mid Suffolk have expressed frustration with delays to the Ukrainian refugee settlement program as their sponsored family’s visa issue remains unresolved after four weeks. Tamsin and Mark Little, from Wickham Skeith near Eye, got in touch with a Ukrainian mother and daughter, Xenia and Margo, through the Ukrainian consulate a month ago.

Xenia’s application was confirmed three weeks ago and she was told there was no more information to submit, and all necessary checks for Tamsin and Mark and their home were done. But the family has still not obtained a visa.

Read more: Five ways to make a small difference for Ukrainians fleeing conflict

The Department of Upgrading, Housing and Communities said on Tuesday afternoon (April 12) that the family’s application had progressed, but it appears the only progress was that Margo, 14, received a letter stating that his visa application is “in preparation”. for consideration” while Xenia has not yet heard.

The government said it could give no indication of how long it would take for their visa applications to be processed. The mother and daughter, originally from kyiv, remained in Ukraine but fled the city.

Tamsin said two other Wickham Skeith families are also hosting, with their arrivals having applied up to two weeks after Xenia and Margo.

Margo, 14, expressed her feelings of war through her painting

“As soon as we saw the start of the conflict, I knew we would want to do something,” said Tamsin, 50. “When someone talked about taking in refugees, my husband and I agreed that we would offer our house. They [the UK Government] try to reassure us by saying that it is treated in the order of the dates. The family that arrived last week applied two weeks after my lady, it’s chaotic.

“We tried to hunt but you can’t talk about the specific person when you call the national helpline. We are really frustrated because we can’t do anything and she can’t do anything.

“As a nation, we should be quite embarrassed by this. We’re a rich nation with people who want to help, but it’s wasted. People are losing hope in some ways. [Xenia] became very discouraged a few days ago – she said she felt like it would never happen.

In addition to worries about their visas, the Ukrainian family also has the added worries of Xenia’s husband and son who are left to fight. Margo expressed her fears through her stark artwork.

One of Margo's coins depicts a Ukrainian soldier holding back Russian aggression
One of Margo’s coins depicts a Ukrainian soldier holding back Russian aggression

One, titled “What have you done to me?” depicts a girl crying at the destruction surrounding her, while in another, a Ukrainian soldier attempts to protect Ukraine and hold back Russian aggression, depicted by a grizzly bear and fire.

“The girl attends a school that specializes in art, so that’s something she’s very talented in,” Tamsin said. “It explains what they feel and what they experience.”

A government spokeswoman said: “We continue to process visas for the Homes for Ukraine program as quickly as possible, but accept that progress has not been fast enough. The Home Office has made changes to visa processing – the application form has been simplified, Ukrainian passport holders can now apply online and complete their biometric checks once in the UK, and greater resources have been invested in the system. A UK visa and immigration helpline can provide information on eligibility and applications, and if there are any issues, it can be escalated to teams who can view the full history of the case and establish any problem.

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