Natalya Fisher traveled back to Ukraine following Home Office advice and, after two terrifying weeks, she has now been able to return to her home in Aberdeenshire
Image: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)
A Ukrainian woman living in the UK was sent back to her homeland to apply for a visa just days before the Russian invasion.
Natalya Fisher was ordered to go to Ukraine by the Home Office in order to apply for a spousal visa and be able to secure her long-term future in Scotland, where she resides with her husband Peter.
Following the advice from the Home Office, Natalya arrived in Ukraine just two days before the war broke out and spent the past two weeks trying to return to her home in Boddam, near Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
Natalya’s home city of Dnipro came under attack on Thursday, but she has now managed to get across the border into Hungary.
Her husband Peter rushed to the Ukrainian border to try to help and, together from Budapest, they have been able to cut through the red tape to secure her passage home reports the Daily Record.
Exhausted Natalya, who is petrified about what might become of her parents in Dnipro, is now finally home with Peter, whom she married in Odessa last June.
But she has no idea how long she will be allowed to stay – having failed to secure a spouse’s visa.
On the day Home Secretary Priti Patel announced efforts to streamline the UK’s visa system for Ukrainians, Natalya said: “I really fear for my parents because the situation is unpredictable.
“If my parents are forced to leave for Poland or Slovakia, I will not be able to go and help them.”
Natalya is heartbroken at the destruction of places dear to her.
She said: “I am thinking of Kharkov, the city where I studied, where I saw images of the university building being destroyed by Russian missiles.
“I also grieve for what is happening in the cities near the sea like Berdyansk and Genichesk, where I spent my summer holidays. Peter and I also had many joyful moments in Kyiv.”
Natalya is relieved to have made it to Scotland but is worried for her fellow Ukrainians. She said: “I have great sympathy for all Ukrainians forced to flee from the war. Some have never traveled outside their home towns before.
“A big problem is the lack of clear and understandable information. Women with children sit at train stations in foreign countries for several days, because they do not know what to do next.”
Natalya made an impassioned appeal for greater clarity on her own situation.
She said: “We need clear and understandable instructions, both for Ukrainians and for employees of visa centres.
“For example, the staff of the visa center in Budapest really wanted to help everyone, they were very responsive, but at the time of March 3 they did not even have a link to fill out the visa application.”
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Peter, 50, who returned to work as an Autoglass fitter yesterday, said he was relieved to be back home.
He said: “It has been an ordeal, hell, but the important thing for now is that Natalya is safe. She was very quiet and obviously traumatized when I first saw her in Budapest but she is getting her sparkle back.
“She’s a very outgoing person and she has a strong character. Our fear is that this war goes on for years and she is unable to see her parents de ella.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.