Northamptonshire woman sponsoring Ukrainian family 'very stressed' as she navigates visa process with little information

Echoing calls from across the UK, this local sponsor wants ‘bureaucracy’ to take a back seat to safety

By Max Pearson
Thursday, 14th April 2022, 4:22 pm

A Northamptonshire woman who is sponsoring a Ukrainian family has said she feels “very stressed” as she navigates the visa process with little information from the Government.

Bozena Kuzniewska, 42, from Towcester, said she applied to sponsor a Ukrainian family on March 18 after being inspired by the generous displays of people in Poland, who have taken in a staggering 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees to date as they flee the conflict.

However, after weeks of waiting, Bozena said she has heard nothing back from the Home Office, except that her application is being processed.

Mum Yulia and her daughter Varvara pictured in Poland, waiting to come to the UK.

She said: “Originally I’m from Poland and seeing on the news how much Polish people have helped and how much the Ukrainian people have lost, I thought I needed to do something as well.

"It’s also close to my home town which is only 150 kilometers away from Ukraine, and all of my friends and neighbours are getting involved, so I knew I should do something here.

"I applied around three weeks ago but since then I have heard nothing.

“So I started to email West Northamptonshire councillors asking if they needed anything from me for checks or other details. They told me they couldn’t help me.

It is feared that concerns over security could be hampering a search for refugees' safety

"So the next day I emailed my MP Andrea Leadsom, but all she could tell me was that the Home Office was working on it and she had passed my concerns along.

"When I called the Home Office to ask how long it would take to get their visas approved, they told me they didn’t know. Then they told me that all the information they would give me was on their website anyway, so there was no point in calling."

The Northamptonshire mum has joined many critics who blame “bureaucracy” and “red tape” for what has become an unexpectedly long wait.

According to Bo, 28-year-old mother Yulia and her three-and-a-half year-old daughter, Varvara, are currently waiting in Poland for the green light to come and stay in the UK.

Bo said: “I understand that there are security concerns to check and that you need biometrics for the adults. But now the Home Office has turned around and said the three-year-old also needs them done and I have to wonder why.

“It’s just so stressful trying to figure all of this out and trying to explain it to my family, and then the mother and her daughter, with no way to track the application or know how far along it is.

"I’m frustrated because the system the Government promised would work isn’t working.”

Dame Andrea Leadsom responded to Bo’s emails saying: “The Home Office is taking longer than usual to respond to enquiries given the extremely high and unprecedented levels of correspondence it is receiving from MPs.

"I entirely appreciate the frustration and stress the situation is causing but urge you to wait for a response as regular chasing by email will only lead to further unwanted delays.

"I would like to reassure you that I am in regular contact with the Secretary of State to the Home Office, and am aware of work being done to improve and speed up the visa application and approval process.”