Hartlepool MP tells Commons a Ukrainian girl risks being sent back to war zone if visa issue is not sorted

Hartlepool MP Jill Mortimer has told the House of Commons she is fighting to overcome visa problems preventing a Ukranian family being given refuge in the town.

By PA
Monday, 20th June 2022, 5:23 pm
Updated Monday, 20th June 2022, 5:25 pm

Mrs Mortimer raised the issue with Home Secretary Priti Patel on Monday, June 20, saying a Ukrainian girl risks being sent back to the war zone if visa issues are not resolved by the Government.

She told MPs that she and her team have been “fighting for many hours” to secure a visa for the youngster, telling the Commons: “She’s also been classified as an unaccompanied minor despite her aunt providing evidence that she is her legal guardian many weeks ago.

“The situation is now grave as the family’s 90-day Polish visa is about to expire and the family will have to return to the war zone.

Jill Mortimer outside her office in Scarborough Street, Hartlepool.

"This is unacceptable. I know an unaccompanied minors policy was finally agreed last week but I fear a failure to process these applications swiftly enough, it will soon become a humanitarian emergency for this family and others.

“Can the Home Secretary tell me what can be done to resolve this case, please, and finally bring this family to safety in Hartlepool?”

Ms Patel said a ministerial colleague has been following up on the case.

The Home Secretary suggested changes will be made to the Homes for Ukraine scheme after a call was made to expand it to children travelling with family members who are not their parents.

Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson, chairwoman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, asked about expanding visa eligibility under the Homes for Ukraine scheme to children travelling with grandparents and older siblings.

Ms Patel said: “We are absolutely looking at this, and there is a lot of work taking place across not just the Home Office but with the refugee minister and also the department for local communities on the safeguarding aspect.

“We are going to make changes.”

Previous Home Office data in May showed that 32 visas had been granted to stay with hosts in Hartlepool from 36 applications.

But nearly a third had not reached the UK with the Refugee Council reporting delays at every stage of the application process.

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