Red tape means a four-year-old
girl faces being sent back to war-torn Ukraine – despite having a
sponsor in North Staffordshire – because she is travelling with her grandmother
rather than her parents.
Members of Alika Zubets’s
extended family have already reached safety in Newcastle but she and her
paternal grandmother Tanya are still waiting in Poland for her visa
to be issued.
Alika’s parents Dima and Arena
gave written consent for their daughter to leave with Tanya on March 24 and the
pair headed for Poland where they have been ever since.
Tanya was granted a 90-day
visa on April 12 but Alika’s application has been hit by numerous delays –
while Tanya’s right to remain in Poland is set to expire on June 25.
Sponsor Maggie Babb, who is a
paediatric anaesthetist at the Royal Stoke University Hospital, has been
working to try to secure a visa for Alika so that she and Tanya can join her at
her Audley home.
But because Tanya only has
temporary notarized legal guardianship of Alika it now appears that the
four-year-old will not be able to obtain a visa for the UK and will have to
return to Ukraine.
Government guidance on the
Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme state: ‘Unaccompanied children and orphans
are not eligible to apply under the scheme. Under 18s applying for the scheme
must be applying with their parent or legal guardian, or to join them in the
Dr Babb, who has been
communicating with Tanya in Poland using Google Translate, has been in regular
contact with her MP Aaron Bell, as well as with campaign group Vigil4Visas, who
are crowdfunding to bring an action against the Home Office for delays in
processing visa applications for a number of Ukrainian refugees. The
53-year-old even asked a friend to visit the visa application centre in
Sheffield on her behalf to try to expedite the process after submitting various
requested documents to no avail.