Reverend Jenny Kilgour, who hosted Viktoria at their home in Cullomton, near Exeter, Devon, during a series of visits as part of a language exchange programme, described the maze of ticking boxes that she had to go through in her unsuccessful efforts to obtain a visa for 17 years. -years Victoria Koval.
Reverend Kilgour’s efforts to offer her home to Viktoia Koval, a law student from Vinnytsia, southwest of kyiv, began almost as soon as Russia invaded Ukraine when she messaged the family offering her her “your grandmother’s house in Ukraine” which she shares with her son and his wife and their children.
Reverend Kilgour has since been in contact with her counsel, the Ukrainian Embassy in London, various government departments, 65 MPs including her own, recently resigned MP Neil Parrish, lawyers, refugee charities and Richard Harrington , the Minister for Refugees.
In the latest blow, Reverend Kilgour was informed by email from an MP who had taken an interest in the case that Viktoria’s visa application had been refused because the Ukrainian government did not allow “minors unaccompanied” to enter the UK “without the consent of Ukraine. ”
Reverend Kilgour wrote to the Ukrainian Embassy for clarification and last week received his written confirmation that the Ukrainian authorities do not systematically block visa applications for unaccompanied minors.
He said: “We hereby confirm that the Ukrainian authorities do not block visa applications for unaccompanied minors.
Permission signed by parents and certified by notary authorities or city council in Ukraine, guardianship service, is sufficient for minors to be taken out of Ukraine during martial law in Ukraine.
Viktoria applied for her first visitor visa on March 6 online. On March 17 – after an earlier appointment was canceled – she traveled to a visa application center in Moldova – a 6-hour round trip – to have her biometric verification confirmed.
On March 18, the Homes for Ukraine government sponsorship program was launched and she also applied under this program. She has not heard from any agency – either the visa department or the head office – and received no explanation.
Ms Kilgour, a former army nurse, said: “It has all been exhausting over the past eight weeks. All we want is to comply with her parents’ wish and give Viktoria a safe place with a loving family she knows well.
We have an established relationship with her and yet we have faced endless blockages. It’s like every time we make progress, something else comes up.
She says her granddaughters – 15-year-old Sophia and 12-year-old Elisia were badly affected. ‘Sophia was upset enough to write 65 MPs’, she said, ‘Elisia 12 is not sleeping properly’.
She added: “I understand the need for safeguarding, but I thought parental consent and my consent would be enough. Every day we watch the news and see the horrors happening. Viktoria is like a granddaughter to me. and a sister for my grandchildren.
How awful hiding in a basement because the sirens are going off and not really knowing what’s going to happen next. That’s all I can think of.
When I wake up at two in the morning, I check my phone for messages about it. We work on it every day. We’ve had our criminal records checked and expunged – we seem to be doing everything we’re supposed to and it’s not enough. It’s hopeless.
“It thrills me to think of all the other young people in Ukraine waiting to be granted visas that will ensure their safety. We still don’t know if we’ll ever be able to get Viktoria to safety, which is desperately sad for everyone. »