Dozens of visas approved for Ukrainian refugees in West Lothian – with thousands more sponsored by Government

Dozens of visas have been approved for Ukrainian refugees to stay with nominated households in West Lothian, according to new figures.

But this may not reflect the true number of Ukrainians heading to the area, with thousands of the visas granted across the country sponsored by the Scottish Government, in a pledge to support refugees more quickly.

The Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme, also known as Homes for Ukraine, allows citizens to volunteer to house refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Sponsors agree to offer accommodation for at least six months, with those receiving sponsorship allowed to live, work and study in the UK for up to three years.

File photo dated 25/02/22 of The Ukrainian flag being flown above 10 Downing Street in London. PA

Home Office data shows as of April 26, the number of visas issued for sponsors based in West Lothian stood at 80 – up from 23 as of April 6, when local figures on the scheme were first published. Local authority figures cover refugees who have already been linked with a named sponsor prior to their arrival. But around 3,000 of the 5,200 visas issued in Scotland fall under the Scottish Government’s “super sponsorship” scheme, where applicants do not have to be matched with a named sponsor at the point of application.

It means local figures are likely to be an underestimate, as refugees arriving in the country under this scheme will be linked with sponsors over time.

Across the UK as a whole, 51,300 visas had been issued by April 27 – 69 per cent of the 74,700 applications made to that date.

The proportion of people waiting has dropped since April 7, when just 12,500 applications had been issued from 43,600 applications.

But the number of Ukrainians that have come to the UK through the scheme remains low, with the latest national figures showing just 11,100 had arrived by April 25.

Some warn that delays in processing are impacting the number of refugees able to arrive in the UK, with reports of families unable to travel due to individual members not having visas granted.