New figures released today show that the number of visas issued for Ukrainians to come to the Scottish Borders has more than quadrupled in just 3 weeks.
Official figures from the Home Office, the department responsible for administering the Homes for Ukraine scheme, show 63 visas have been issued for those fleeing the invasion by Russia.
The figures do not include visas issued under the Ukraine Family Scheme which means the number of Ukrainians given refuge in the Scottish Borders is likely to be even higher.
The Home for Ukraine scheme allows Borderers to sponsor Ukrainians to come and live in their property. Whereas the Ukraine Family Scheme is for family members of Ukrainians who already live in the UK.
Across the UK, 86,100 visas have been issued – 51,300 of which are from the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
This is not the first time that the Scottish Borders has welcomed refugees to the area. A number of families have been welcomed to the Borders through the Afghan and Syrian refugee schemes in recent years where the UK Government has funded the local council to help settle those fleeing war.
The UK Government also issued 100,000 visas for people from Hong Kong fleeing the security legislation being imposed on the city state by China.
Local MP, John Lamont, has been assisting Borderers and Ukrainians with their applications to come to the area.
He also raised the issue directly with the Home Secretary in the House of Commons this week. Ms Patel offered to work directly with Mr Lamont to iron out any issues that local people were having with their applications.
John Lamont MP said:
“It is really encouraging to see the number of visas issued for Ukrainians coming to the Borders rising quickly, with over 60 applications to come to the Scottish Borders now approved.
“There are obviously some very important checks that need to be completed by the Home Office. But it is also important that these are done efficiently to allow Ukrainians to make it to safety in the UK as quickly as possible.
“I have been assisting numerous local residents with their applications and raising any queries directly with the Home Office. It is encouraging to see so many of these applications now being approved.
“However, a few issues remain, specifically with unaccompanied minors looking to come to the Borders. Understandably, the Ukraine Government is reluctant to allow young people to travel alone without the relevant checks due to the danger of human trafficking. I know the Foreign Office is working directly with their counterparts in Kyiv to come to a solution.
“Our thanks must go to the selfless Borderers who are opening their homes to provide refuge to people fleeing the horrors of war. Similarly, to those providing financial help and donations to the humanitarian crisis.
“Of course, this is just part of the support package being put in place to help Ukraine. Thousands of individuals and entities have been sanctioned. We have sent lethal weapons to be used by the Ukrainian army which have helped push back Putin and his army from the capital city. And importantly, we are providing humanitarian aid alongside our charity partners.
“It is heartening to know that President Zelensky recognises the strong show of solidarity from the UK and its citizens, praising the support that has been offered.”