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UK visa rules for Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion expected to be eased further

The government is preparing to make it easier for those fleeing Ukraine to come to the UK, after coming under criticism over the course of the weekend.

Sky News understands Home Secretary Priti Patel will set out more information about possible changes in the House of Commons at 2.30pm this afternoon.

Labour has criticised the existing visa arrangements, saying they do not go far enough to allow those fleeing the conflict to come to the UK.

Live updates as conflict enters fifth day


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‘Putin needs to withdraw his war machine’

Over recent days thousands of people have been seen leaving the country via buses and trains.

Earlier Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News the easing of rules so far was a “first step”, adding “we’re absolutely looking at all the different range of options we can apply to welcome Ukrainians in need”.

As it stands Ukrainians who live or are settled in the UK will be able to bring over their immediate relatives. That includes their spouses, children, and if the person is under 18 – their parents.

More on Home Office

Priti Patel is seeking to expand the government's Disregards and Pardons scheme from a narrow set of laws
Priti Patel is seeking to expand the government’s Disregards and Pardons scheme from a narrow set of laws

It does not include siblings, adult children or grandparents.

The process has been loosened to allow faster processing than through the standard visa route – which can be costly and time-consuming.

But Labour says this is just the speeding up of a system for people who are already eligible to come to the UK, and it is “shameful” the government not going further.

Arrangements announced by the EU last night are more generous – allowing for any Ukrainian to seek refuge in Europe for up to three years. Some MPs think it likely the UK will soon implement a similar policy.

There is understood to be frustration in government about the criticisms made so far, with a senior source arguing that the UK cannot announce an open door policy overnight.

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‘Better ways’ to help for those without military experience

Some in government point out that the UK has been at the forefront of military aid which is what Ukrainians told Boris Johnson they wanted during a meeting at a church in London last night, at which he confirmed that visa requirements would be dropped.

But following the blunder of Kevin Foster, a junior Home Office minister, who at the weekend posted a swiftly-deleted tweet suggesting Ukrainians could apply for seasonal work picking fruit, ministers are now urgently working on a more generous scheme.

The UK’s approach to people fleeing Hong Kong last year allowed people to come on five year visas, and this approach may be replicated once the detail has been worked through.


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