Mary questioning Priti Patel, asking her to expedite Ukrainian visas
Mary questioning Priti Patel, asking her to expedite Ukrainian visas

Speaking in the House of Commons on 25th April while questioning the Home Secretary, Mary raised the case of her constituent Graham Hughes who, having made numerous journeys to the Polish-Ukrainian border to deliver humanitarian aid, is now facing serious bureaucratic hurdles to bring the woman and child he and his partner have sponsored to Durham on his return journey. 

The City of Durham MP raised the case directly with the Home Secretary stating that

My constituent Graham Hughes is today doing his latest humanitarian run to Poland and hopes to return with a Ukrainian refugee and her 11 year old daughter, who recently managed to escape the horrors of Mariupol shortly before the evacuation routes closed but they’re now waiting anxiously in Lviv. Yet despite Graham and his partner applying to sponsor them nearly a month ago, they are yet to be granted passage to the UK.

Graham and Kathryn are ready to bring these people to safety in Durham, will the Home Secretary do everything possible to expedite this case?

The Home Secretary agreed to look into the case in response to Mary’s question, asking that the Durham MP pass on her thanks to her constituent who was travelling to Durham to Poland and to request the specific details so that her Department can “ensure that the visa side and the sponsorship side do actually match up”.

However, Priti Patel did not acknowledge the delays in processing visa applications. Mary’s question comes the same day that it has been found that almost 1000 families are still waiting for visas over a month after applying. 

Commenting after Home Secretary’s reply Mary shared her dismay at the delays facing numerous families offering sanctuary in Durham to Ukrainians fleeing the war:  

Graham’s story is sadly not unique. My office has been in contact with numerous Durham residents who have made incredibly kind offers of accommodation to Ukrainian refugees, but these are being derailed by bureaucratic delays within the Home Office.

I remain totally unconvinced by the Home Office’s decision to insist that visas are issued in full before coming to the UK. As such both refugees and their sponsors are left in total limbo, with no communication regarding when they may be able to come to safety. The process is not fit for purpose and is seemingly intentionally complicated, it appears designed to fail. No other European country has put such barriers in front of innocent people fleeing the horrors of war.

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