Ukrainian refugees will get free train travel and visa application forms have been simplified in an effort to make it easier to settle in the UK.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that Ukrainian citizens will receive free train travel from major international ports, airports and train stations.
“Britain stands with the Ukrainian people and those who are fleeing Putin’s brutal invasion,” he said.
Meanwhile, a source from the Interior Ministry confirmed that much-criticized long visa application forms that Ukrainians have to fill out to get documents to enter the UK on either the Ukrainian family or Ukrainian sponsorship schemes will be simplified.
The 49-page forms that Britain left behind on charges of excessive bureaucracy have been cut by a third on average for applicants to take into account the “emergency”, the source said.
Refugee Minister Lord Harrington acknowledged that the procedure for refugees to come to the UK was “too bureaucratic”, but stressed that “we have taken action” to resolve it.
He also stressed Interior Minister Priti Patel’s efforts to ensure that Ukrainians with passports no longer have to attend physical appointments at centers in Europe to obtain their visas, telling Times Radio: “I have not been happy with the speed of them ( applications) and I have said so publicly.
“But in the last week we have, I hope, made very significant changes.”
It came as Ukrainian refugees without British family members applying for visas under the new sponsorship scheme have been told not to travel to the UK until they have received a decision on their application.
Ukrainian refugees and their sponsors are now able to fill out an online form on Gov.uk under the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, which was formally launched on Friday.
Those with valid passports applying under the scheme will receive a letter of authorization from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) confirming that they can travel to the UK.
The government said it prioritises applications under the scheme and aims to make a decision “as soon as possible”.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Britain said he was “humbled” by the more than 150,000 Britons who have expressed interest in housing refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion.
Vadym Prystaiko said it has been an “uneven ride” to get the government to establish visa-free travel since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his war, but welcomed the sponsorship scheme when it opened for refugee applications on Friday
It happened when Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland would become a “super sponsor” of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country in the wake of the Russian invasion, where the government provided temporary accommodation.
The plan, announced Friday by Nicola Sturgeon, will allow Ukrainian refugees to choose “The Scottish Government” as their sponsor when applying for a UK visa online.
Individuals or families who choose this option will then travel to Scotland and be placed in temporary accommodation while waiting for a permanent home.