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'Does she look like a terrorist?': Vicar condemns slow progress in visa applications as he waits to be reunited with Ukrainian mum

by Kelly Valencia
Rev Dmitri Lutsenko.jpg - Banner image

A Church of England vicar has criticised the Home Office for failing to do enough to fast track visa applications for Ukrainian refugees.

Ukrainian-born Rev Dmitri Lutsenko from St Mary's Church in Horsell, Surrey is trying to get his 67-year-old mother to the UK after she fled from the bombardment seven days ago. 

Larysa Lutsenko is currently stranded in Poland waiting for the Home Office to approve her visa. 

"We don't know how long it will take," Rev Dmitri told Premier. "We've done everything we could have done according to the latest guidelines and regulations but we haven't heard back."

Changes to the Home Office's Ukraine Family Scheme came into force this week allowing an immediate family member, of an extended family member of a British national or someone settled in the UK to apply for a visa. 

But for Rev Dmitri the bureaucratic process is still too slow: "Her case it's supposed to be very simple. She's got a valid password, she has submitted biometrics many, many times before in the past, she's been in this country, and yet we still don't know where she is at in that queue."

The government's U-turn on the scheme came after it had face widespread criticism for its slow response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis. 

There were calls for the Home Office to lift biometric requirements, prior to arrival in the UK but Home Secretary Priti Patel argued the 'Britain's security would be at risk' if the checks were to be dropped. 

"If I could, I will send Priti Patel the picture of my mom and ask her a question, whether she [Rev Dmitri's mum] looks like that terrorist," Rev Dmitri continued. 

 "My mum has been here, she's been already vetted, and she has already submitted her biometrics, she clearly does not pose any risk for this country and yet she's still stuck with the bureaucracy of the system," he concluded.  

Premier has contacted the Home Office for comment. 

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