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New UK visa centre in France will not accept walk-in applications from Ukrainian refugees

The Home Office confirmed that the visa centre in northern France, which is being established to help Ukrainian refugees, will not accept walk-ins or appointments. It will also not be located at a public location.

A Downing Street spokesperson had earlier told reporters that the centre in Lille would accept appointments starting on Thursday. However, the Home Office has contradicted this statement.

It stated that it had taken urgent steps to expedite visa processing for all eligible applicants to the Ukraine Family Scheme and to carry out vital security checks.

“We have secured appointments at all our visa application centers to ensure sufficient capacity, and we have deployed additional staff to assist people through this process as quickly as possible.


“Because of the danger posed by criminals operating in the Calais area, we have opened a temporary Visa Application Center in Lille. It will be open tomorrow and only accept referrals from people who are in the eligible area for the scheme.”

Ukraine war – ‘At minimum 1,200 people were killed in Mariupol’. Follow live updates

Image Although the Home Office has established a small desk in Calais to assist Ukrainian refugees, they don’t want them to get visas there
Image A sign encouraging Ukrainians to visit Paris or Brussels was posted at Calais hostel on Wednesday

Priti Patel, Home Secretary, announced Tuesday that a “bespoke visa application center” was “en route” to Calais. However, it said it would not be located in the town to avoid “choke points” around Calais.

Read more about Russia

Over the past few days, hundreds of Ukrainian refugees seeking to reach the UK arrived at Calais to seek asylum. However, most were told to travel to Paris or Brussels instead.

On Tuesday evening, it was revealed that another centre would be located in Lille, which is more than 70 miles from Calais.

Sky News has learned that access to the centre is reserved for Ukrainians arriving in Calais, who are considered the most vulnerable by the UK officials stationed in the French port.

Key developments:

* Children are buried in rubble following an airstrike at Mariupol’s hospital, claims President Zelenskyy

* A no-fly zone is necessary to prevent humanitarian catastrophe, declares the leader of Ukraine

* UK won’t escalate the conflict in ‘a way that would not be acceptable’ to the rest of the world, says the transport minister

* Tributes for Pasha Lee, the ‘hero’ actor who was killed in the Russian bombardment of Irpin

* First Lady Olena Zelenska opens a letter condemning Putin’s’mass killing of civilians’

* Ex Miss Ukraine describes her escape from Kyiv with her seven-year-old son

Backlash shows that many people believe there is not enough capacity at the visa centre

Kate McCann

Political correspondent


The home secretary informed MPs that a new Visa Processing Centre was being established near Calais in order to help desperate Ukrainians seeking visas.

Priti Patel stated that it would be set up “away from the port” in order to avoid “choke points”. Yesterday it was confirmed that Lille was the chosen location – which is more than 70 miles from Calais.

It has been revealed that it will be a “pop-up” centre. This means it won’t take walk-in appointments or applications and its address won’t be made public.

This is because the centre is being set up at a rapid pace and that capacity is being increased elsewhere simultaneously.

Officials claim it will run properly tomorrow. They will focus on serving those who show up in Calais, and are considered the most vulnerable.

However, the backlash that we have already seen shows that many MPs and charities don’t think this is enough.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette cooper criticised the government’s position via a social media posting: “Good grief. Why is Priti not resolving this?

“Do people have to travel all the way from Ukraine to Calais to be able to – possibly – return to Lille?” It is making life harder for desperate Ukrainian families.

Image Ukrainian refugees fleeing to neighboring countries
Image On Wednesday, a terrorist attack on a children’s hospital in Mariupol.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman expressed concern over the Home Office’s handling of refugees’ visa applications.

Rob Behrens stated: “It’s vital that the Home Office corrects its handling of visa applicants, particularly failings we previously reported and which are being repeated here.”

“This terrible situation requires swift action to ensure that the visa application process is easy, accessible, and fast. It is vital for the safety of lives.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, defended the government’s decision not to establish the temporary centre in Calais. He stated: “We don’t want this to be mixed up with other issues such as people traffickers and criminal groups in Calais. So we don’t want people to Calais without having all the paperwork in place first.”


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