UK residents willing to house Ukrainian refugees under a new sponsorship scheme will need to take people in for a minimum of six months, according to reports. 

The UK Government has come under fire recently over its insistence that Ukrainians fleeing the war must obtain visas. This route is restricted to family members of people settled in the UK. 

As of Thursday morning, 1,305 visas has been issued to Ukrainian refugees.

However, a scheme to allow individuals and companies to sponsor Ukrainians with no ties to the UK is expected to be launched on Monday. 

According to the Times, anyone interested in the scheme will need to commit to a six-month contract during which they will offer a home to the refugees. 

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The newspaper cited a Government source as saying: “It’s about making sure we have secure offers.

“Unfortunately it’s going to need to be a long-term scheme as it doesn’t look like they’ll be going home any time soon.”

The Times said ministers hope the bulk of offers to the sponsorship scheme will come from accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and landlords, to bring in as many people as possible.

Hosts and their properties will need to pass safeguarding checks, after which they will be matched with Ukrainian refugees in Poland by Home Office officials, it said.

The Times said Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer would take in a Ukrainian refugee himself.

“If necessary (I would), as many people would… I think we’re a very welcoming nation,” he told the newspaper.

It comes after the Government was reported to have come under fire from French President Emmanuel Macron for its policy on Ukrainian refugees.

According to the Guardian, at the end of an EU summit in Versailles on Friday, Mr Macron said insisting visa applications to the UK were made in person in Brussels and Paris had exacerbated circumstances for those fleeing the war.

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The Home Office pointed to previous comments by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who said: “We are now making the process quicker and simpler by removing the need to physically visit visa application centres for many of those who are making the perilous journey across Europe.”

On Thursday, she announced that from Tuesday people will be able to apply online for a visa and will no longer have to go to a processing centre to give their biometrics.

Nearly 2.6 million people are thought to have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on February 24, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data portal.