Up to 200,000 Refugees to be Allowed Settle in UK Under Revised Visa Rules

AHONY, HUNGARY - MARCH 02: Refugees with disabilities and their carers arrive at the Hunga
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Britain is to revise its visa rules for Ukrainian citizens, allowing up to 200,000 to settle in the country so long as they already have family within the UK.

Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is set to double the number of visas available to Ukrainian citizens, allowing for up to 200,000 from the war-torn nation to settle in the UK so long as they have at least one member of their extended family already living in the country.

Despite the loosening of the measures, a number of left-leaning politicians have criticised the move as not going far enough, demanding that a full relaxation of visa requirements is in order, while others emphasised that the British government must keep in mind its commitments to other refugees, as well as its own population.

According to a report by The Times, despite expanding the rules, Johnson’s government wants to stop short of allowing significant resettlement to take place, for fear it will make it appear to Russia that Ukrainians are “throwing in the towel”, and that allowing visa-free travel would go against the wishes of the Ukrainian administration.

“We are being told clearly that people want to stay in the region,” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel reportedly told the British House of Commons.

“It is a fact that what is happening in Ukraine right now, with the amazing and heroic resistance being shown, is that people are fighting for the freedom of their country, and family members and loved ones want to stay in the region,” she continued.

However, this excuse has not been good enough for a number of left-wing politicians, with the leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon, expressing frustration that visa rules remain in place at all.

“I heard somebody for the UK government say yesterday that the reason for such a limited approach is that they think that people fleeing Ukraine would prefer to stay closer to home,” the SNP leader said. “That sounds to me like just passing the buck to other countries.”

“Every country has a moral obligation here to play its full part, but there’s also a practical need, because no one country — no small number of countries — alone is going to able to deal with this,” she continued.

Liz Saville Roberts of the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru also criticised the measures, saying that Wales wanted to become a “nation of sanctuary”, but was being prevented from doing so under the existing measures.

“Our neighbours in Ireland have waived all visa requirements for three years,” Saville Roberts told parliament. “Why won’t [the Prime Minister] allow us to provide the same humanitarian welcome?”

However, while some complain about the government’s decision, others worry that the government may struggle to deliver what it has already committed itself to do.

“We can’t have a repeat of the Afghan situation, where thousands are still in hotels,” one government insider told The Times, with another saying that they would ideally want to get new refugees to move straight into homes due to logistical issues.

“Ideally we want any new refugees to move directly into homes because we have struggled persuading some Afghans to move out of hotels into more remote parts of Scotland, for example, because they are holding out hope for a more convenient location,” the other source said.

Meanwhile, Dr Benedict Greening of Migration Watch UK expressed concern that the government might not be thinking its policies through before announcing them to the public.

Dr Greening agreed that it was “vital” to “help those facing devastation in Ukraine as best we can”, but expressed concerns regarding how the government was expected to house new arrivals.

“Only a few months ago the Home Secretary said we do not have the infrastructure or housing to accommodate new arrivals from Afghanistan,” the Executive Director told Breitbart London. “This is underlined by the fact that 37,000 migrants are in hotels.”

“We have a housing, cost of living and health crisis, and the needs of the British public must not be ignored,” he continued.

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