09 October 2012

Chernobyl charities fight back in UK visa change

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Charitable organisations that bring children affected by the Chernobyl disaster to the UK each year have begun a campaign against law changes which introduce UK visa charges from next year.

UK visa

The Chernobyl disaster occurred in 1986 and caused the mass evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

A total of 67 UK based charities have been bringing numbers of children from areas in the Ukraine affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster have been outraged by plans to introduce UK visa charges for each child brought in as of March 2013.

As of next year, the charities will have to pay £86 per child for a UK visa.

It was reported last month the difficulty the Portsmouth and Hayling Island Link of the Chernobyl Children's Lifeline charity was having bringing just 12 children over and now more charities are expressing their outrage too.

Friends of Chernobyl Children, a nationwide charity, said the added cost to its members would be £45,000 a year while Chernobyl Children's Lifeline, a Bristol based charity which brings 2,500 children to the UK each year put the added cost of £212,000.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office defended its decision, citing its support of the cause for 16 years and blaming austerity measures for the necessity of the introduced charges but insisted the impact will be softened as much as possible.

"The charities will continue to have access to visas under a memorandum of understanding agreed with UK Border Agency. This ensures the proper safeguards and in place but also provides a facilitated services for the charities," said a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The charities have started an online petition which they hope will gain 100,000 signatures and therefore trigger a potential debate in Parliament over the matter.

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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