The UK Home Office has so far granted visas to just 300 Ukrainians under the government’s Ukraine Family Scheme. This is out of 8,900 Ukrainian refugees who have submitted applications to enter the UK under this route, according to official figures.
Almost two weeks since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, more than two million refugees have fled the country, according to data from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). The vast majority have arrived in neighbouring and nearby countries. Over 1.2 million refugees have fled to Poland, followed by 191,348 to Hungary, 140,745 to Slovakia, 99,300 to Russia and 82,762 to Moldova.
Last week the UN said that up to four million refugees could leave Ukraine in what is already the largest refugee movement in Europe since the Second World War.
In a significant change to previous policy and the EU’s complex asylum procedures, the bloc’s 27 member states last week invoked, for the first time, a 20-year-old directive designed to offer protection to refugees. The Temporary Protection Directive means that Ukrainians will have instant rights to live and work in the EU and will be able to move freely throughout the bloc. Ukrainian refugees will be given EU residence permits for at least one year, with the possibility of extension.
The UK government has come under fire for its policy towards refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. In contrast to the EU, Ukrainians who wish to enter the UK need to apply for a visa based on UK family ties or a UK sponsor for their application. Boris Johnson yesterday said that the UK wanted a "very generous and open" policy towards refugees but would maintain controls on who can enter.