The Home Office has been heavily criticised for flying the Ukrainian flag “in support of Ukrainian people”.
This week it was announced that the ministerial department had stopped issuing visas to Ukrainians, other than family members of British citizens who normally live in Ukraine, and they are only issued by a temporary consulate in Lviv, western Ukraine, or at consulates in neighbouring Poland, Hungary, Romania or Moldova.
The restrictions mean there is no legal means for the tens of thousands of Ukrainians resident in the UK to bring endangered relatives to Britain.
Without a valid visa, Ukrainians will be barred from boarding flights, trains or ferries to the UK.
Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, said the Home Office should ensure Ukrainians with family in the UK could “swiftly” join them “as a top priority”.
The department should post staff to neighbouring countries and reception centres and “remove bureaucracy and delay,” she said.
Meg Hillier, Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, which has a significant Ukrainian population, said the government needed to “step up” and make sure that Ukrainians could request visas without visiting a consulate, adding that it should not be necessary for everything to be done at an in-person meeting.
“There are other ways of carrying out checks,” she said.
The Home Office tweeted a picture of the Ukrainian flag outside its offices in London, but it was quickly condemned on social media.
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