Vadym Prystaiko said wife Inna didn’t get her papers in time to move here with him when he was appointed to his post (Picture: Max Mumby/Indigo)
UK visas are so difficult to obtain that even the Ukrainian ambassador’s wife had to wait, he told MPs yesterday.
Vadym Prystaiko said Inna didn’t get her papers in time to move here with him when he was appointed to his post in July 2020.
He told the home affairs committee the UK had always ‘stuck out of the crowd’ because of the hurdles people have to jump – even before the Russian invasion sparked a refugee crisis.
Mr Prystaiko said 7million Ukrainians were on the move after being forced from their homes and more than 100,000 may try to join relatives in the UK — though yesterday just 750 visas had been issued.
He has called for an end to ‘bureaucratic red tape’ blocking people from seeking sanctuary in Britain.
‘To process visas, there were always bureaucratic hassles,’ Mr Prystaiko said.
‘Even when I was coming here as ambassador I got my visa on time but my wife didn’t have it.
‘So even simple things like that – the bureaucracy is so tough.
Mr Prystaiko told the home affairs committee the UK had always ‘stuck out of the crowd’ because of the hurdles people have to jump (Picture: PA)
‘And when we reached agreement for a visa-free arrangement with Europeans, which worked quite beautifully for almost 10 years, we never managed to open this particular nation.’
He said Kyiv would like to see visa requirements for fleeing Ukrainians scrapped – as the British Home Office faced criticism for being slow to provide assistance.
At least 100,000 people could try and reunite with relatives in the UK via the Ukraine Family Scheme which allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay here.
Mr Prystaiko has argued that most refugees would want to stay in countries close to Ukraine and return when the war subsides (Picture: PA)
Addressing security fears, he said ‘one-year-olds are not a security threat’ and, asking for leniency, he added: ‘Most of the people don’t have their passports with them because their homes were bombed.’
Speaking on BBC’s Question Time, the ambassador said: ‘I understand that security checks should be done – I get it all.
‘I just wanted to tell (you) that most of our men are staying behind and fighting, so… most of the people you will see (are) just women with children, which I totally hope they’re not posing any threat, especially a terrorist threat to (the) UK.
‘So that’s why I hope and I beg that the procedures will be dropped and every bureaucratic red tape should be cancelled.
‘We will deal… later with any issues, sometimes it’s documents, but there is (an) embassy here for you to help with the documents, some people couldn’t even get their passports because they are fleeing under bombardment.’
Mr Prystaiko said most refugees would want to stay in countries close to Ukraine and return when the war subsides.
He said those who arrived here would be mainly well-educated professionals, eager to work.
Last night Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said plans were in motion in his department to take ‘100,000 children… into our schools’.
He added: ‘When there’s a malign state that can use this particular issue to send people over to the UK that can do us harm, we have to have some checks.
‘We need to streamline that, we need to get better at it and you will see that number increase of people we bring in.’
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