UK visa scheme ‘asks if four-year-old Ukrainian is a terrorist’

The British spouse of a Ukrainian-born girl has mentioned the UK’s visa scheme “completely took away the humanity” of her family fleeing the battle and included a four-year-old being requested: “Are you a terrorist?”

Emily Radford, from Sheffield, mentioned her spouse of 14 years, whose identify she didn’t need included, was born and grew up in Kyiv however has held British citizenship since 2011. She has been dwelling in Poland for greater than three weeks along with her cousin and her cousin’s kids whereas they await the result of their visa purposes by the Ukraine Household Scheme.

Ms Radford, 39, stayed at residence in Sheffield however helped the group by the appliance course of which states you’re eligible for a UK visa in case you are becoming a member of a UK-based member of the family.

“It’s been very dehumanising,” the civil servant, advised the PA information company. “This is a visa programme, but it’s a visa programme in response to a humanitarian crisis. Three weeks for the family visa – these are people with connections… there is even a family member who has gone to fetch them. It’s insane to me.”

The group, which incorporates 4 kids aged 17, 12, eight and 4, had their visas permitted on Wednesday, having made the purposes in Warsaw greater than three weeks in the past.

“They’ve treated what are primarily women and children as threats first rather than people to help,” Ms Radford mentioned. “That’s not to say that if it was men it would be different – maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t.

“But it’s women and kids… I had to answer for a four-year-old: ‘Are you a terrorist? Have you ever been in the armed forces?’ Why are you asking those questions? It should literally just be: ‘Are you a child? Who is your mum? OK, we’ll sort you out when you’re here and we can have questions with you then if we need to.’”

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They’ve been staying in varied hostels throughout Poland since Ms Radford’s spouse went to gather them from japanese Kyiv on Friday March 11. Ms Radford mentioned: “It’s just been a very long and confusing journey, the only concrete information we’ve had has been from volunteers. I know they haven’t got passports but we’re talking about one adult and kids… They aren’t a security threat, it’s a four-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl.”

Ms Radford also explained how the experience has been for the group waiting on the outcome of their visa applications. She said: “The previous week has been the worst for them, being bounced from lodging to lodging, not understanding how lengthy they’re going to be there. Simply one thing easy, like the youngsters have gotten nothing to do… That’s actually exhausting, if you’re staying in a single room.

“They’re pretty sick of each other… I think the choice of making a visa programme is bringing order to chaos but it completely took away the humanity of everyone.”

She additionally spoke of what her spouse has manufactured from the final three weeks, saying: “She said that the Polish people have been wonderful, but as soon as she interacted with British bureaucracy, she felt terrible, which is really hard for me to hear as a British person.”

Ms Radford mentioned it has been “hard to imagine” the fact of battle in Ukraine. She mentioned: “I think it’s just so hard for us Brits to imagine. I’ve been to Kyiv quite a few times, it’s been a few years… I can’t say there’s any place that I’ve recognised being bombed. But you know, I know what they are, I know where they are… There’s a lot of anger that it could be happening.”

Ms Radford hopes her Ukrainian relatives will be able to fly to the UK on Friday, where they will join herself and her wife in Sheffield.

More than four million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its war, according to the UN refugee agency.

Asked for a response to Ms Radford’s claims, a Government spokesperson said: “We are moving as quickly as possible to ensure that those fleeing Ukraine can find safety in the UK through the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine. We continue to speed up visa processing across both schemes, with 25,500 visas issued in the last three weeks alone and thousands more expected to come through these uncapped routes.

“While we have streamlined the process, simplified our forms and boosted case worker numbers, vital security checks are needed to protect our borders and the British people from hostile state actors from Russia who would cynically take advantage of the support we are rightly providing to people fleeing Ukraine.”

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