ua en ru

Britain uncovered fraudulent visa scheme for Ukrainian refugees

Britain uncovered fraudulent visa scheme for Ukrainian refugees Ukrainians are becoming victims of visa fraud schemes on a massive scale (photo: Getty Images)

In the United Kingdom, there has been a surge in cases of Ukrainian refugees arriving in the country with forged visas, with people falling victim to scams en masse, according to The Independent.

According to the charitable organization Settled, identifying forged visas is challenging, as Ukrainian travelers are permitted by airline staff to board flights with these documents. However, border officials do not recognize these visas as valid.

Upon the discovery of counterfeit visas, Ukrainian refugees are rendered illegal migrants, and their passports are confiscated. Border service personnel are increasingly issuing six-month visas to Ukrainians, but they are left without access to housing and benefits.

The UK's Home Office stated that it is actively working to detect and prevent this fraud, attributing it to organized criminal networks.

The organization Settled has called on the UK's Home Office to issue clear instructions to Border Force officials regarding the issuance of temporary visa stamps to deceived Ukrainians.

Sten Benesh, the Executive Director of the charitable organization Opora, also frequently encounters Ukrainians who have fallen victim to visa scams. According to him, scammers often encourage refugees to enter the UK via Ireland, exploiting the fact that Ukrainians may not always be aware that Ireland is not part of the UK.

"We try to make it as clear as possible in our communications that the Ukraine scheme visas are free, and that people need to have connected with a legitimate UK-based sponsor to apply," he emphasized.

The British Red Cross has also reported knowledge of a small number of cases where British individuals, who were supposed to host Ukrainians, paid for their travel to the country with a specific job offer upon arrival. However, it later emerged that the employment conditions significantly differed from the initially agreed terms.

"We have also heard this being the case in situations where the added cost of living (utility bills, food costs) associated with hosting a family is used as the reason to put people to work in an exploitative way," added the Red Cross.

Other charitable organizations had previously warned that landlords hosting Ukrainians were presenting inflated bills, forcing people into exploitative working conditions.

Challenges faced by Ukrainian migrants in European countries

Ukrainian refugees continue to seek refuge in Europe, with the number of individuals under temporary protection increasing in all EU countries except Denmark.

At the end of January, reductions in allowances for newly arrived Ukrainian refugees in Ireland will take effect, along with limitations on the duration of stay in state-provided housing.

In Poland, support centers for Ukrainian refugees, known as Blue Points, operating in transit zones since the beginning of the war, are closing. These centers will cease operations by December 31.

Meanwhile, Denmark's Minister of Immigration and Integration, Kaare Dybvad, stated that Ukrainian refugees currently residing in Denmark will be required to return to Ukraine once the war concludes.