10 March 2022
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown urges Government to speed up Ukrainian visa process

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown welcomes the announcement that Ukrainian refugees with passports can apply for UK visas online and calls on the Home Secretary to look at other steps that would speed up the system such as accepting the biometrics on Ukrainian identity cards and ensuring sufficient translators are available.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) (Con)

I was first on Tuesday and last on Thursday—it seems perfectly fair. I welcome what my right hon. Friend has done today with the new flexibilities, listening to what people have said up and down the country. Will she look at every practicality to speed up this system? Ukraine was a reliable country in producing its documentation, so can we have maximum flexibility in the documentation that people are able to provide? If they provide biometric and electronic data in another form—an identity card or something like that—we should accept that. A lot of elderly people will have never needed to renew their passports, and we should accept Ukrainian passports whether electronic or not. A simple thing: can we have enough translators if the forms have to be in English and enough people in post to answer queries, rather than asking people to go to the back of the queue when they get it wrong?

Priti Patel (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right on that. The documentation matter is constantly under review. Within the security context that I have spoken about, there are certain checks that can be done out of country and there are certain checks that will be done in the United Kingdom, as I outlined in my statement.

The point about translators is absolutely valid. Across the whole civil service across the United Kingdom, there has been a call for Ukrainian and Russian speakers to come forward for that very purpose—that took place some time ago. With that, of course, it is all about the simplification of process. We are non-stop in finding ways, many of them through digital and technology processes, so that people do not have to go to VACs. We are constantly looking at how else we can streamline the system. It is almost a blockchain approach here. We are going through that day in, day out, so I can give my hon. Friend that assurance.