Digital visas for Ukrainians begin from 15 March

Home Secretary Priti Patel has promised a streamlined online visa application system for Ukrainians seeking to flee the war with Russia in response to criticism of her approach to the crisis.

She told MPs the changes will come in from next Tuesday, 15 March, following assurances from the security services that the UK can still be protected from Russian efforts to infiltrate the country by posing as Ukrainian refugees.

In particular, Ukrainian nationals with a passport or ID card will be able to apply for a visa entirely virtually, without having to visit a visa application centre outside the UK.

Eligible Ukrainian nationals will receive an email confirmation to allow them to board a plane, train or boat, then will receive a stamp in their passports on arrival in the UK, before giving their biometric details.

The Home Office has come under pressure from opposition and Tory MPs – as well as the Ukrainian government – to simplify the system which allows family members of people settled in the UK to join their relatives.

Ms Patel stated: “From Tuesday, I can announce that Ukrainians with passports will no longer need to go to a visa application centre to give their biometrics before they come to the UK. Instead, once their application has been considered and appropriate checks completed, they will receive direct notification that they are eligible for the scheme and can come to the UK”.

In short, Ukrainians with passports will be able to get permission to come to the UK fully online from wherever they are and will be able to give their biometrics once they are inside the UK.

This will mean that visa centers across Europe will be able to focus their efforts on helping those Ukrainians who do not have passports or other identity documents, or who have particularly difficult circumstances that require additional investigation.

More details to be provided shortly.

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