Ukrainians will soon find it slightly easier to come to the UK now that the government has just unveiled a new sponsorship scheme â€“ but, as people have pointed out, there are still significant faults with the programme.
The Homes for Ukraine system enables both individuals and organisations to sponsor refugees so they can live (rent-free) and work in the UK even if they do not have any family settled in Britain.
The sponsors receive Â£350 tax-free a month in exchange â€“ and Downing Street has confirmed there is â€œno capâ€ on the number of Ukrainians who could be welcomed with this system.
The scheme is certainly more welcome than the governmentâ€™s initial efforts to help with the emerging refugee crisis in Ukraine, but a few people have pointed out that No.10 should still not take too much credit for the new system.
1. Is it just a â€˜DIYâ€™ scheme?
As the UK is the only European country asking for visas, itâ€™s still difficult for very Ukrainians to get to Britain.
It is now possible for Ukrainians to apply for visas online but those who have gone through the process have complained about the English-only forms and the absurd questions they have to answer.
Labour dubbed it a â€œDIYâ€ asylum scheme, and shadow communities secretary Lisa Nandy criticised her government counterpart Michael Gove after he suggested families try to get themselves noticed on social media so they could get a UK-based sponsor.
She said: â€œHe canâ€™t seriously be asking Ukrainian families who are fleeing Vladimir Putin, who have left their homes with nothing, to get on Instagram and advertise themselves in the hope a British family might notice them. Is this genuinely the extent of this scheme?â€
Nandy described the system as a â€œDIY asylum scheme where all he [Gove] does is take the creditâ€.
The shadow frontbencher also said she believes the â€œexcessive bureaucracy could be cutâ€, to prevent the â€œmonths of delayâ€ while people wait for officials to approve their applications.
2. What about the rest of the worldâ€™s refugees?
Downing Street took a long time to come round to the idea of welcoming Ukrainian refugees into the UK.
Initially, the Home Office insisted they would still have to enter the country through the points-based system established for those fleeing Russiaâ€™s invasion.
There has since been a large change of heart in the government, after significant public and political pressure, and No.10 rolled out two new systems â€“ the sponsorship programme and the family visa scheme.
The speed of this response from the government did not unnoticed by its critics.
Activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu tweeted: â€œWhy arenâ€™t Black/Brown refugees getting same instead of dehumanising hostile environment and deportations?
â€œWhy are Ukrainians treated better than Windrush? They. Are. White.â€
Some have pointed to the other, most recent refugee crisis the UK has faced.
Others have referred to the Nationality and Borders Bill (dubbed the Anti-Refugee Bill by campaigners), which seeks to bring widespread reforms to the UKâ€™s immigration and citizenship system.
The government claims turning this bill into law would tackle people-smuggling gangs who encourage refugees to take dangerous routes to the UK.
Asylum seekers arriving by boats could also face up to four years in prison, while almost six million people could have their British citizenship removed without notification by the government and off-shore detention for refugees and asylum-seekers could become a possibility if the bill gets through Parliament.
This alarming bill has prompted fears of Windrush 2.0, and appears to send the opposite message No.10 has prompted when it comes to the Ukrainian refugees.
As the CEO of the Scottish Refuge Council Sabir Zazai tweeted: â€œWe cannot be welcoming on one hand and hostile on another. We need an asylum system that will treat all refugees equally with compassion. Wars donâ€™t discriminate, so shouldnâ€™t we.â€
3. What does this have to do with the cost of living?
The generosity of the general public who are willing to take on refugees as a cost of living crisis looms has impressed many.
However, the government has also presented the soaring cost of living as a necessary consequence to the war in Ukraine, with prime minister Boris Johnson claiming the public would have to take some of the â€œpainâ€ of defeating Putin through soaring energy bills.
While itâ€™s true that reducing our dependence on Russian oil and natural gas will increase energy prices, itâ€™s important to remember that there was a cost of living crisis looming even before the Russian invasion.
From April 1, the maximum amount a utility company can charge is set to increase dramatically by an average of Â£693 per customer due to climbing wholesale gas prices around the world.
Bills would have increased even had the invasion not happened and commentators including financial expert Martin Lewis have said the government should not be conflating the cost of living crisis with the war in Ukraine.
No.10 has promised that sponsors who take in Ukrainian refugees will receive Â£350 tax-free per month, which could go someway to helping households with the cost of living crisis.
4. The responsibility has shifted to the public
The government has put the burden of responsibility for the refugees predominantly on the shoulders of the general public.
While there has been an overwhelmingly positive response and local councils are poised to assist with the influx of refugees, it means the government is stepping away â€œfrom the idea of universal refugee protectionâ€, according to writer Daniel Trilling.
There is â€œno capâ€ on the number of refugees that can be accepted, meaning it is simply up to the extent of the publicâ€™s generosity.
5. What about DBS checks?
Critics have raised concerns about safeguarding when it comes to the people who have agreed to take on a Ukrainian refugee.
Anti-trafficking charities have warned that â€œred flags could be missedâ€ under the new schemes despite the vetting sponsors have to go through.
Lauren Agnew, human trafficking policy expert at Care, said the schemeâ€™s logistics had to be â€œweighed carefullyâ€ even though the system is â€œwell-motivatedâ€.
The vast majority of refugees fleeing the warzone at the moment are women and children â€“ most men have stayed on to fight and defend Ukraine â€“ meaning they could be more vulnerable to trafficking.
Daniel Sohege, director of pro-bono consultancy Stand For All, pointed out the new scheme â€œsidelines important local authority mechanisms and it puts vulnerable people not just in danger of not having their needs met, but also of being exploited and even traffickedâ€.
He tweeted that the new scheme is something â€œwhich a trafficker could only have previously dreamed of happeningâ€.
Sohege claimed the main way around this is â€œrapid investment into local authority systemâ€, provision of right to work for all refugees immediately and installing protective measures.
â€œOrganisations that currently â€˜matchâ€™ refugees to potential homes conduct multiple checks. The speed and scale of this scheme means it is nigh on impossible to properly carry out those checks,â€ Sohege concluded.