Ukraine refugees: Oxfordshire villager frustrated by visa delays

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A resident who first proposed her village house Ukrainian refugee families has said glitches and delays have left her “ashamed to be British”.

The first Ukrainian family will arrive in North Moreton, near Didcot, Oxfordshire, on Thursday.

But Polly Vacher said residents want to take in more as soon as possible so new arrivals are not left isolated.

The Home Office admitted “progress approving visas has not been good enough”.

Mrs Vacher said the family – a mother and two children – arriving was “fantastic” and a “glimmer of good news”.

But she said some of the village’s 350 residents are frustrated by a lack of progress on more than 40 other applications.

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“Although we’re excited about it, it is only a glimmer [of good news] because they’re going to be isolated,” she said.

She said villagers had taken concerns about the applications’ lack of progress to Didcot MP David Johnston, who Mrs Vacher said will address concerns with the Home Office on Thursday.

“It’s a disgrace, I’m ashamed to be British for the first time in my 78 years,” she said of the delays.

A government spokesperson said: “The Homes for Ukraine scheme was set up in record time but we acknowledge progress approving visas has not been good enough.

“The Home Office has made changes to visa processing, the application form has been streamlined, Ukrainian passport holders can now apply online and do their biometrics checks once in the UK, and greater resource has gone into the system.”

They said the changes were now “allowing us to welcome people faster, while still maintaining security checks which ensure those who could pose a threat to our safety are prevented from getting here and human trafficking is addressed”.

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