A SCOTTISH business owner is pleading with the Home Office to speed up his application to sponsor two Ukrainian nationals.

Gavin Price, owner of the Schiehallion Hotel and Fountain Bar, has offered to provide jobs for two people fleeing Ukraine, and said he will pay for accommodation, flights and cover the costs of any work visas.

The Aberfeldy businessman said he was struck by the images and videos coming from Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

He said he was disappointed with the UK Government’s initial response to refugees but said he is hopeful it will continue to change as pressure mounts.

READ MORE: 'Birthplace' of Saltire flies Scotland and Ukraine flags in show of support

The Scot pointed to more generous policies in Europe, such as in Poland, which has welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Price, along with his MP and MSP, are now pleading with the Home Office to reduce the amount of time it takes to sponsor a Ukrainian national – warning it could be up to three months. Three months, Price warned, that many people in Ukraine can’t afford to wait.

The businessman said that between what he was seeing on the news and the UK’s initial response, he felt compelled to help.

He told The National: “What is going on there is atrocious and surely whatever anyone can do to help surely has to be a good thing.

“I was really disappointed with the initial stance [of the UK Government]. You see the stance taken by the EU and that’s the humanitarian thing to do. This shouldn’t be a time to put obstacles in people’s way.

“It’s our European neighbours. I’d like to think Scotland’s stance would be a lot different.

“Scotland is a welcoming country and we want to help people.”

Price said the mood in Scotland is “undoubtedly” one of kindness, compassion and generosity towards Ukraine.

“It’s Scotland’s nature,” he said. “It’s overwhelming, the feeling in the country. I think your instincts are to help."

He continued: “I would like to see a relaxation on all migrants coming in from Ukraine. There shouldn’t be obstacles put in their way.

The National:

Scots around the country have sought to express their solidarity with Ukrainians

“They need to get out of the country first and worry about the rest later.”

But the hotel and bar owner warned the current system in the UK takes too long, with his visa sponsorship potentially taking months.

He said: “When I first inquired about going through visas this morning they said it could take eight weeks to three months for me to register to sponsor which is obviously not what’s going to help in the short term, so a different policy to let people in the country, not just to work but refugees too, is important.

“If we could do that through sponsoring - I know it’s a drop in the ocean what we are offering to do - but it is something we can do to help.”

Price said he has been “blown away” with the support he has seen for his efforts to sponsor Ukrainians.

“There’s a desire in Scotland to do this and we should try and make it happen,” he said.

Price said Deputy First Minister John Swinney and SNP MP Pete Wishart had both been in contact with him to help speed up his visa application.

The National: Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP, at his home in Woodside, East Perthshire speaking to SNP conference today..

Deputy First Minister John Swinney praised his constituent for his generosity 

Swinney said Price’s offer showed the widespread generosity on display from Scots.

He told The National: “I am grateful to Gavin and the entire team at the Schiehallion Hotel for their generous sponsorship offer. This gesture speaks to the wide level of empathy and support that exists for Ukrainians across Perthshire, and our collective determination to do our bit to alleviate their suffering.

“Along with my colleague, Pete Wishart MP, I have made initial enquiries regarding how best to take forward Mr Price’s offer.

“As immigration matters are still the responsibility of the UK Government, any decision relating to the entry of Ukrainian nationals would ultimately lie with the Home Office.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson refuses to waive visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees

“I am very clear, however, that I am supportive of Mr Price’s offer and of a broader change in policy to allow Ukrainian refugees to enter the UK without a visa, as is being implemented within the European Union.”

Wishart said: “I am thankful to Mr Price for his kind sponsorship offer, and to the many voluntary organisations and individuals in my constituency helping out with resources and finance for the people of Ukraine.

“I am now seeking to clarify what avenues are available for Mr Price to take to ensure that his offer can be fulfilled as swiftly as possible.”

The UK Government has been approached for comment.