Oxfordshire is one of the top counties for accepting Ukraine refugee visas with over 1000 accepted since a government sponsorship scheme was launched.

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.

READ MORE: Home Secretary could face legal action over Ukraine visa delays

The number of visas issued for Oxfordshire as of April 26 stood at 1052 in total. 

This made it the fourth-best upper-tier local authority in England for accepting Ukrainian refugees through this scheme.

The county which has accepted the most is Kent with 1674 visas accepted, followed by Surrey (1618) and Hampshire (1508).

The number of visas respective Oxfordshire authorities have accepted individually are (in brackets):

  • Oxford (181)
  • South Oxfordshire (329)
  • West Oxfordshire (169)
  • Cherwell (149)
  • Vale of White Horse (224)

Across the UK as a whole, 51,300 visas had been issued by April 27, equating to around 69% 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.

READ MORE: 'Kind-hearted' people of Oxford support Ukraine

The Government cautioned the data is likely to contain some duplicate records, while around 2% of sponsors could not be assigned to a local area.

Oxford Mail: Oxford stands with Ukraine. Photo: Ed NixOxford stands with Ukraine. Photo: Ed Nix

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.

Stephen Kinnock, shadow minister for immigration, said it was “truly inspiring” to see so many British households open their doors to fleeing refugees.

But he also criticised the UK Government’s handling of the scheme, saying issues with processing visas had created a “bureaucratic nightmare.”

READ MORE: Oxfordshire firefighters return to UK after leading convoy of aid to Ukraine

Refugees have also been arriving through the Ukraine Family Scheme, which allows Ukrainian nationals to join family members in the UK.

As of April 27, 34,900 visas have been provided under the Ukraine Family Scheme nationally, of which 16,000 people had arrived by April 25.

Local data on this scheme has not yet been made available.

A spokesperson for the UK Government said: “The changes the Home Office has made to streamline the visa system, including simplifying the forms and boosting staff numbers, are working and we are now processing visas as quickly as they come in – enabling thousands more Ukrainians to come through our uncapped routes.”

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