THE Tory Government has been accused of “mean-mindedness” and “closing the door” to those in need after a scheme allowing Ukrainians to join family members in the UK was unexpectedly halted.

The sudden closure of the Ukraine family scheme, which came into effect on Monday at 3pm ahead of the two-year anniversary of the Russian invasion, means no new applications will be accepted under that system.

The separate Homes for Ukraine scheme remains open, but under other changes new visas issued under this route have been reduced from 36 months to 18 months.

Ukrainians who have already come to the UK under the schemes can apply for an 18-month visa extension, it has been reported.

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin gains in Ukraine as West looks on nervously

SNP home affairs spokesperson Alison Thewliss told the Commons that her party is “appalled” that the UK Government “have made it more difficult for Ukrainians to seek sanctuary here” with the closure of the family scheme with “absolutely no notice”.

Speaking during an urgent question on changes to immigration rules she said: “He’s talked of an extension by 18 months but for new applications they have reduced that from years to 18 months and those who hold visas now can’t sponsor, so those perhaps wives who want to bring injured husbands to live here now presumably can no longer do so.

"How can he say that is fair, and how can the government say Slava Ukraini while closing the door to those in need?”

Home Office minister Tom Pursglove denied that was the case and said that there continues to be a route for Ukrainians to come to the UK.

The National:

He said: “It is arguably a more effective route in facilitating that sanctuary for people with all the enhanced checks and supports that come with the Homes for Ukraine routing and there is that ability for people to be able to sustain and to extend that sanctuary here in the UK if they are already here.

“That is something she should welcome.”

Independent MP Angus MacNeil said he had warned the government against such “mean mindedness”.

He said the UK had been the “meanest minded” in Europe at the outbreak of the Ukrainian war, causing additional work for government and civil servants but most importantly “angst” for those who wanted to come here.

READ MORE:  Sanction Tucker Carlson for Vladimir Putin 'love in', SNP MP says

He asked if reports of the family scheme closure were incorrect, adding: “I would ask him to think again as I have a feeling he is being economical with clarity here.”

Pursglove replied: “The position is very clearly that we have been arguably the most generous when it comes to the approach that we have adopted with providing sanctuary for our Ukrainian friends.

“There will continue to be an out-of-country route through the homes for Ukraine scheme … as well as the extension to those visas.”