Kirsten Oswald, MP for East Renfrewshire, has welcomed a U-turn by the UK Government allowing Ukrainian refugees under the age of 18 to come to the UK without a parent or guardian.

This change to the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, which was announced by Michael Gove MP, the Levelling Up Secretary, will allow Ukrainian children and minors under the age of 18 to apply for a visa if they have proof of parental consent.

Prior to the U-turn, Ukrainians aged under-18 were being refused access to the UK unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

This restriction stopped East Renfrewshire resident Eleanor Seymour and her husband from bringing a 16-year-old Ukrainian girl to East Renfrewshire with the full support of her parents to continue her education. The regulations were forcing the mother to choose between accompanying her daughter to Scotland or staying in Ukraine to care for elderly relatives and the teenager’s 8-year-old sister.

According to the statement by Michael Gove, this change will allow 1,000 Ukrainian children who have already applied to come to the UK, but there is no indication if this change of policy will be extended to those who have not yet applied.

Kirsten said: “I welcome this change of heart by the UK Government however it should not have taken four months after the war started for this to happen, and Michael Gove’s statement leaves many questions unanswered.

“It is worrying that the U-turn may only apply to children who have already applied through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme because it is likely that many families will have been put off applying due to the restrictions put in place by the UK Government.

“The SNP have pressed the UK Government to follow the lead of other European countries and allow those fleeing the war in Ukraine visa-free travel to the UK. They are fleeing a brutal war of aggression and should not face unnecessary bureaucracy.”

Elanor Seymour said: “My husband and I are delighted to hear that the Home Office has finally changed its mind regarding entry to the UK of unaccompanied minors via the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

“We are sponsoring a 16-year-old girl from Kyiv, due to arrive in Glasgow on the 20th of July.

“Until this rule change, however, her mother was faced with the impossible choice of having to accompany her daughter to Glasgow and leave behind her 8-year-old daughter and elderly parents. Now, she is able to come here alone to continue her studies.

“Her mum can stay in Ukraine to care for the rest of her family knowing that she is safe and thriving.”