Ukrainian mum forced to leave Scotland after young daughter hit by cruel visa delay


A Ukrainian mum is being forced to leave her life in Scotland to join millions of refugees in Poland due to a visa block for her seven year old daughter.

Anna Shutova, who works on a Scottish farm, has been waiting for 40 days for daughter Alina’s visa to be rubber stamped.

Alina has been cared for by her paternal grandmother in Poland since war broke out – but the elderly relative says she cannot cope with any more.

Anna, whose seasonal worker visa has expired, has been told her daughter’s visa won’t be granted until her own papers have been processed.

Unfortunately, it took just eight days for Anna’s original worker’s visa to be issued.

Little Alina, seven, in her Ukraine home city of Rivne
Little Alina, seven, in her Ukraine home city of Rivne

The family is now out of time and Anna now faces having to get a plane to Poland to join her daughter, with little hope of a job or secure place to stay or a chance of returning to her home in Scotland, as she now has no visa for herself.

Anna’s husband is fighting the Russians, which puts yet more terrible stress on mother and child, who both have comfortable accommodation with a Scottish family arranged.

Distraught Anna, from Rivne, told the Record: “We have been waiting for these visas for six weeks. I really don’t understand why it is taking so long.

“In Ukraine, when I applied to come the UK as a seasonal worker, I received the visa in only eight days.

“I don’t know what to say to my daughter when she asks me when I will collect her. I just say ‘soon’. She asks me how many days, and she is still waiting. And I have no answer for her.

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“I cannot leave her there for much longer.”

Anna in Edinburgh
Anna in Edinburgh

Host Catherine Oram, 36, said: “My heart is breaking for them both and I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced such frustration in my life.

“Every day I contact our MP John Lamont and every day he says he’s being told there’s no change.

“All we are asking is for Anna’s visa, which she has held for several months, being extended to allow Alina to travel to Scotland.

“There are no potential security risks – zero. Anna has already passed all checks and Alina is a seven year-old girl.

“But it would seem the UK Government would feel it better to allow a young mother to leave the UK and head to Poland, with no way of returning, as her visa has expired. It’s inhuman.

“Why can’t they simply extend the visa for Anna and issue one for Alina and sort out any fine details once they are both safe.”

Catherine Oram and daughters Astrid, four, and Willow, two, are desperate to welcome Anna and Alina
Catherine Oram and daughters Astrid, four, and Willow, two, are desperate to welcome Anna and Alina

Catherine, 36, added: “Anna has a job and can contribute to the Scottish economy, in an area where labor is hard to find.

“Alina has a place arranged at school and we would do our best to make sure they both settle in.

“I would simply appeal to the Home Office to see this case for what it is and take action right away – today.

“Otherwise they are literally banishing this mother and daughter to a situation where they will be seeking to survive in terrifying conditions.”

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Catherine is afraid that different departments within the Home Office are simply not joining up the two visa applications, leaving them in limbo.

Anna had previously gone to Poland before her UK worker visa expired, hoping to bring Alina home with her.

She was told the visa would arrive in three to five days but that didn’t happen and she was forced to leave Alina behind, coming back to Scotland on the day before her own visa expired.

The Daily Record put four questions to the Home Office and the Department For Leveling Up, which has been assisting with the disastrous process.

We asked:

1. Why has the UK government allowed this to drag on for 40 days?

2. Will the government immediately issue a visa extension to Anna and a visa to Alina?

3. Can a specific message be sent to the people handling Anna’s visa to speed it up?

4. Can the government defend a situation where by a mother is being forced to go to Poland, leaving behind a secure home and job, because of cruel red tape?

A Home Office spokesperson failed to answer any directly, saying: “In just over a month, around 71,800 visas have been issued so people can rebuild their lives in the UK. The Home Office is aware some applicants have been waiting a few weeks for their applications to be progressed or an outcome to be communicated. We acknowledge that this is unacceptable and we are working to resolve this and continue to speed up the processing of applications.

“We are now processing thousands of visas a day – this shows the changes made to streamline the service are working and we’ll continue to build on this success so we can speed up the process even further.”

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Catherine’s MP John Lamont, a Tory, has been stonewalled on a daily basis by the Home Office.

He said: “I have spent many hours on this case and have been in daily contact with the Home Office about Anna and Alina and relaying progress directly to Ms Oram.

“I have helped numerous residents in the Borders with their applications with a lot of success. I continue to work hard to find a resolution for Anna and Alina to come to our area as quickly as possible.”

The chaotic response from the Government has involved the Home Office churning out bonkers statements that claim it is performing well.

Requests have been made for journalists and MPs to send specific case details to the Department For Leveling Up, to speed things up.

But cases just rumble on.

Poland has taken in almost 3 million refugees since the Russian invasion.

The latest government figures reveal that just over 11,00 Ukrainians have arrived in the UK under the scheme, out of 71,000 applications.

Many have reported the same blockage – that mothers have been given visas yet children’s applications are dragging on.

Many thousands of Ukrainians are thought to have given up on the UK, instead seeking safety in one of many countries that put up no visa barriers.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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