Highgate women request judicial review into Homes for Ukraine scheme

Two women with yellow placards outside the Home Office

Kitty Hamilton and Katherine Klinger, co-founders of Vigils for Visas. - Credit: Kitty Hamilton

Two Highgate women are crowdfunding to take the Home Office to court over failings in its scheme for granting visas to Ukrainians fleeing war.

The government's Homes for Ukraine allows families to "sponsor" a Ukrainian and let them live in their home.

When approved, the refugee is allowed to work in the UK and receives a small amount of money.

The scheme is run by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office is responsible for visa processing.

Kitty Hamilton, a Highgate resident, set up Vigil for Visas with her neighbour Katherine Klinger after they realised a lot of people on their street were having issues with the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

After Kitty had registered her interest in the scheme, she received no further communication from the government.

"If we'd left it to the government, we would all still be sitting here saying, 'what do we do now?'" she said.

"We're trying to achieve clarity on why it is taking so long to get people fleeing a war safely to this country. We all submitted confidential information, bank statements, passport details, birth certificates, without any kind of receipt or acknowledgement," Kitty said.

Vigil for Visas placards outside Home Office.

Vigil for Visas placards outside Home Office. - Credit: Kitty Hamilton

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Vigils for Visas got a license to demonstrate and has held a vigil outside the Home Office for the last five weeks every Wednesday and Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.

On its five key demands, the group says "delays are deadly", and Ukrainians holding out for a UK visa could be left in dangerous situations.

The group is now filing for a judicial review into the visa process. It has raised £14,719 so far, close to its initial target of £15,000. The full target is £30,000.

After some individual sponsors had success with legal challenges about why specific cases were taking so long to be approved, the group has filed for a judicial review into the Homes for Ukraine scheme, to find out why cases have been so delayed.

Katherine explained: "Under consideration is the chaotic and incoherent processing of visa applications by the Home Office." 

A judicial review is a court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body, challenging the way in which a decision has been made.

Their request is under review and the group will find out in two weeks if the case will be heard in the High Court.

The Home Office was approached for comment.