Implementing a sponsored visa route, rather than waiving visas, risks putting refugees in greater danger of exploitation, without long-term security. It is a cop-out by the government to avoid providing genuine support.
First published: March 2022.
An improvement, but the plan is still only a three-year visa. People still need the right to seek asylum and be provided with long-term assistance.
Not to mention, among other things, the real risks of exploitation which the sponsorship scheme opens up.
And this is a perfect example of why what is needed is for visas to be waived, not for a new visa scheme to be put.
The Home Office’s bureaucracy has been destroying people’s lives for decades. Something tells me that increasing it isn’t the way forward.
We have seen now schemes such as the seasonal workers’ scheme, you all remember, that was the one immigration minister Kevin Foster said Ukrainian refugees could use, have led to worker exploitation. This scheme risks being even worse.
Making someone fleeing a warzone effectively reliant on a sponsor, making any reliant on a sponsor, makes them defacto reliant on that sponsor. Obviously, we need to look at the fine detail, but based on existing schemes this opens vulnerable people up to abuse.
It is also a highly cynical conflation of the asylum and immigration systems, which many people don’t realise are very separate. It is a base level way to ensure that people can be denied asylum and long-term support because doing so would show how inhumane the anti-refugee bill is.
No billionaire owner. No wealthy shareholders. PMP Magazine only exists thanks to donations from our readers.Support our independent journalism
It also leaves a lot of questions unanswered. What happens to people on the new visa scheme in three years if they still aren’t able to return to Ukraine? What happens if sponsors can’t accommodate them after a few months? It is shifting the government’s responsibility onto others. And – as highlighted by the Refugee Council – what support will people be provided? Because failing to meet the needs of traumatised and vulnerable people carries significant dangers, not just of things like long-term trauma, but also being more likely to be targeted by traffickers.
For more issues with the scheme, there is a good thread by @LouCalvey breaking them down and why many people focused on migrants’ rights and refugee protection have concerns.
And then there is this from @RefugeesAtHome, who know what they are talking about on this. The scheme comes across as an ill-thought-through, potentially dangerous, shiny bauble to wave and say the government is doing something to stop people complaining.
Would love to know how it works! Who does the safeguarding? Who checks out host and guest? Who makes the matches between host and guest? Who sorts it when it does wrong? Must be fabulously well-resourced and in development for months to deliver this by Friday…— Refugees at Home🧡 (@RefugeesAtHome) March 12, 2022
And this from @Love146UK. If the scheme is to work, refugees and host families need to be provided with genuine, specialist, support, and that would be the case with just waiving visas as well. The risk is that this scheme is used to avoid that.
As @sabir_zazai highlights, there is also an element of hypocrisy in the scheme, which could reinforce the government's proposals for a “two-tier asylum system” as included in the Nationality and Border Bill.
— AUTHOR —
▫ Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.
GET THEM INVOLVED:
- Text: This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 14 March 2022 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Adobe Stock/Olesia Bilkei. - Siblings sitting quietly on wooden pallet on the floor in bomb proof shelter during air-raid attack in Ukraine. Sharing one blanket during freezing night.