Ukraine: Families criticise visa process after struggling to get relatives to UK

A woman holds Ukrainian passports as she waits to register for a bus which will take refugees to Ger

A woman holds Ukrainian passports as she waits to register in Poland. - Credit: AP

Norfolk families have criticised the UK's immigration visa process after struggling with hold-ups in bringing their relatives to the UK.

Natalia Scott, a Ukrainian woman living in Norwich, has described the "stress" of trying to reunite with her daughter Vika after days of trying to get her an appointment for a visa.

It comes after the Home Office launched its Ukraine Family Scheme, which it says will allow thousands of families to be reunited in the UK.

Ukrainian Natalia Scott who lives in Sprowston 

Ukrainian Natalia Scott who lives in Sprowston - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Mrs Scott, 43, has been wracked with worry for her 22-year-old daughter and mother who were caught up in the war-ravaged Ukraine.

Her daughter Vika, who did not want to abandon her boyfriend, has since made it safely out of the country following pleas from her mother to leave.

She managed to cross the Romanian border and has made it to Dublin in Ireland, where she is currently staying with a friend as she awaits an appointment at a visa centre.

Natalia Scott, 43, is working tirelessly for her daughter Vika, 22, to join her in Norwich after fleeing war-torn Ukraine

Natalia Scott, 43, is working tirelessly for her daughter Vika, 22, to join her in Norwich after fleeing war-torn Ukraine - Credit: Supplied by Natalia Scott

But Mrs Scott's mother Nina Nikiforov, 72, is still seeking shelter in a small village near Chernobyl and is unable to escape as it is under Russian occupation.

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And her anxiety for her mother has only been compounded after being unable to contact her as a result of electricity supply going down in the Ukrainian village.

"She doesn't call me so she's in a very bad place, and I'm obviously in a very bad place because I'm very concerned about her", the 43-year-old said.

Mrs Scott is taking some comfort in the fact she could be reunited with her daughter soon after she applied for an extended visa.

But the process has been "very complicated and very stressful" for the family after they encountered days of problems trying to book an appointment at a visa application centre.

Displaced people queue to get on a train to Poland, inside Lviv railway station, in Lviv, western Uk

Displaced people queue to get on a train to Poland in Lviv, Ukraine. - Credit: AP

Mrs Scott said the UK's immigration policy is "very difficult" compared to other countries.

She said the main issue the family was experiencing was booking an appointment for Vika to submit biometric details.

Mrs Scott added: "We tried a few days in a row at 8am, 9am and the day before yesterday we set an alarm to wake up at midnight so we can try and get a slot at a centre.

"You need to do all the process when you apply for any visa, you have to do the application, it's not easy, especially for people who are refugees.

"You have to speak English and have to understand how to do it.

"When you do the application, it's a lot of questions, some of them I don't understand the point of.

"We heard there's different problems in Europe for this application process."

Displaced Ukrainians stand in a line on the train platform after arriving from Ukraine at the statio

Displaced Ukrainians stand in a line on the train platform after arriving from Ukraine at the station in Przemysl, Poland. - Credit: AP

The family has finally managed to get Vika an appointment at a visa application centre and hope they could be reunited soon.

Mrs Scott said: "I feel better. I don't know when the visa will be released."

Meanwhile, David Shaw, a former Norfolk college lecturer, has also criticised UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) for its service which "seems to be making it as difficult as possible" for his mother-in-law to get a visa.

Mr Shaw drove from the UK to Poland to rescue his 47-year-old wife Dana and her mother after they escaped across the border from neighbouring Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

He undertook a four-day car journey from Milngavie, near Glasgow in west Scotland, where the couple now live, to be reunited with them and has since expressed his "enormous relief".

Mr Shaw is now travelling from Warsaw to Denmark to try obtain a visa for his mother-in-law to come to the UK following reports of huge demand at centres in Poland.

The family believe there will be less pressure on UKVI staff in Denmark, but Mr Shaw expressed his "massive frustration" with the service.

He added: "We heard reports yesterday that there are likely to be riots at the visa centres in Poland and that we might have to wait until April, and I cannot do that because I have to get back to start my job in Scotland on March 21.

"I'm extremely annoyed and very angry with the UK Visa and Immigration service."

EDP's Aid for Ukraine Appeal

The EDP has launched an appeal in support of the DEC's Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal to help those in need fleeing the conflict. It has so far raised more than £4,100.

The DEC said £30 could provide essential hygiene supplies for three people for one month, £50 could provide blankets for four families and £100 could provide emergency food for two families for one month.

To support the EDP's appeal simply donate by visiting justgiving.com/fundraising/edp-ukraine and raise awareness by sharing it on social media platforms.