Visa delays slammed by Broadstairs sponsor of a mum and son still in Ukraine 3 weeks after application

People travelling to the Ukrainian border Photo Freedom Boxes

A retired civil servant living in Broadstairs has criticised the delays in granting visas to Ukrainians coming to stay with sponsors in the UK.

Barbara McCulloch registered with the Homes For Ukraine scheme and is waiting to provide a safe place for a 40-year-old woman and her 12-year-old son who are currently in Zaporozhe, a city in the south-east of Ukraine.

But the mum and son have been waiting three weeks for visas to be issued despite government guidance saying the process should take 10 days.

The woman, who is a doctor, says they stayed in the city in the hope that the visa would arrive but are now going to travel to Poland because Russian forces are moving nearer to their location. The woman’s husband is remaining in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military action into Ukraine since February 24 has seen heavy artillery assaults in cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

The conflict has seen some 4.5 million refugees leave Ukraine, while an estimated 6.5 million people have been displaced within the country.

Barbara, who used to work for the Home Office, has contacted MP Craig Mackinlay and written to Labour Party leader Keir Starmer. She says despite the Thanet MP’s strenuous efforts and help from the Labour Party leader’s office there is no progress.

The 69-year-old said: “I was watching the news and I was in tears. So, I registered to offer my home.

“The application was taken forward with the UK Homes for Ukraine. Kent County Council has been here and I have been CRB checked, everything is ready.

“But the mum just had a generic letter that told her nothing about what was happening with her application. It has been three weeks and she just received another letter that is exactly the same as the first one. It is awful.

“The area she is in is not as bad as places like Mariupol but they can see missiles and say the Russians are moving closer.”

The mum and her son are leaving Ukraine this evening and hope to reach Poland shortly where they will try again for news of the visas.

Craig Mackinlay

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said: “This case has occupied many hours of my caseworkers’ time over the past couple of weeks. My team, on my behalf, have been emailing repeatedly and on one occasion were kept on the line for two and a half hours, and when finally answered could only be told that the application was ‘progressing’.

“I cannot have done more on this case and will continue to do so. I note an apology has been released by the Home Secretary about processing delays.”

Last weekend Home Secretary Priti Patel apologised for the visa delays

Home Office figures reveal the government has granted 41,000 visas to Ukrainians with some 12,000 having arrived in the UK so far.

Homes near Chernihiv after night time artillery strikes

Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme it is estimated that some 1,624 Ukrainians could initially be heading to Kent. They have been matched with 709 sponsors in the county.

KCC is supporting the process of settling those fleeing the conflict in a number of ways including, carrying out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks with all host families, offering English courses for Ukrainian adults along with education for children and young people through the Kent Adult Education service and offering school places for Ukrainian children in primary and secondary schools across the county.

Information for residents and Ukrainian refugees with queries about the  Ukraine Families Schemes settlement is available at, by emailing [email protected] or by calling our dedicated helpline on 03000 412424.

The helpline, which includes a translation service if needed, can provide anyone in the county with information, support and advice.

DEC and British Red Cross

Cash donations can be made to the Disaster Emergency Committee which works with member charities and local partners operating on the ground in Ukraine and western border countries

Find the British Red Cross Ukraine crisis appeal here

Find out more about Homes for Ukraine at:


  1. I have a lot of sympathy for Barbara and all those in her positions. The Home Office does not seem to understand that there is an emergency, a real one, within a few hundred kilometres from the UK. These delays are wrong and harmful. While the rest of the European countries have put in place speedy mechanisms to welcome the refugees, the UK is still proceeding at a snail pace. This is not acceptable.

  2. these poor people would be better coming into dover in an inflatable boat , they would get everything thrown at them then , with no checks

  3. I have been berating Mackinlay for weeks about the hopelessly incompetent Home Office and their insistence that Refugees must obtain a visa, why? Every other European country does not ask for a visa, and the only reason Priti Patel, and this Tory government are insisting on visas, is “Security”. For Security read their fear bogus refugees will enter the UK, and if later discovered, they can’t be returned back to any EU country, why? Because of Brexit, when we were a member of the EU we could return any false asylum
    seeker back to the first EU country they arrived at, but not anymore, Duurh. This is the so called pulling power for desperate people crossing the channel in unsuitable boats, because they know that they can’t be sent back to France, or anywhere else once they get here! What idiotic government came up with this stupid idea? Oh yes its was this Tory government!

    In my newspaper yesterday was a piece from a woman who worked for the government preparing Online forms, and she has been waiting for weeks to house a small family of refugees. She says it took her 2 days, spending 6 hours each day to complete the application forms for visas, and she is a professional and computer literate!

    The Home Office are demanding that refugee applicants have a Passport, even I don’t have a Passport anymore! One easy test if one is needed to prove a refugee is genuine, would be to have adults read a piece from a Ukrainian newspaper, and if they don’t have a reasonable excuse why they can’t do this, then its surely obvious they are not Ukrainian! I have some experience of the Home Office from when I was an official Prison Visitor, and its hard to imagine a more incompetent bunch of idiots capable of walking upright! So far Mackinlay has not responded to any of my emails about the shambolic Home Office!

    • I suspect that many Russians would be able to read Ukranian newspapers, and they could easily turn out to be yet another terrorist threat.

      It’s right that proper checks are made, but I do agree that they should be done more quickly and efficiently!

      • Peter, how many Russian terrorists do you think would pose as bogus Ukrainian refugees? Two, three perhaps, and they would be sent here to assassinate one of Putins enemy’s! So thats a spurious reason, instead thousands of genuine refugees are sleeping on school floors, or in other makeshift accommodation, living on handouts probably in France or other coastal countries, where they don’t speak the language!

        This morning Priti Patel, and of course Johnson, have come up with the most inhumane, and horrendous scheme to force people who arrive here in unsuitable boats, to be sent to a mid African country, Rwanda! You couldn’t make it up could you! On average 60% of Asylum Seekers arriving by boat are given Refugee status, so sending them to an under developed African country will only increase their suffering, and PTSD! This Tory government should be ashamed of itself, but it won’t, see holding office parties when tens of thousands of people were locked down, unable to see their sick, and dying relatives!

          • Peter, Priti Patel is a nasty shameless fascist minded person, who will do anything to placate buttock clenching moronic right wing nutters! Australia, Israel, and Denmark all stopped deporting Asylum Seekers because it was too costly, so gave it up as a bad job, get your facts right! Forcibly deporting desperate people trying to escape tyrannical, and war torn countries, need our help,
            how would you feel if you were trying to escape a violent dictatorship in Britain, which could happen under this desperate Tory government!

  4. as drastic a measure as it seems it will never happen – its just winston johnstone sabre rattling – smoke and mirrors as usual

  5. Peter Checksfield really is an ignoramus! The reason many people try and come here seeking asylum, is because they mostly have some English language skills! Despite that tens of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are being taken in by EU countries, without the need of visas! As an admirer of Priti Patel, it sounds like Peter Checksfield is a neo fascist too!

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