CRIMINALS offered a fake visa “in return for favours” to a North Shropshire woman who was delayed by UK paperwork while fleeing Ukraine, ministers have been warned.

Vulnerable people seeking refuge also face an increased risk of trafficking and the long delays mean the Government is “facilitating criminality”, the Commons was told.

Concerns were raised in Parliament after the latest figures showed 86,100 visas had been issued as of Wednesday under the Ukraine Family scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship scheme.

Speaking in the Commons, North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan said: “A lady sponsored by one of my constituents waited so long for her visa that organised criminals offered her a counterfeit visa in return for favours.

“We have a 10-year-old who is the only member of her family not to have been given permission to travel yet.

“Thankfully my vulnerable lady is now sorted out, the other family is still waiting to hear on progress.

“Will the minister agree with me that this process must be improved and improved urgently because these are vulnerable people and we have a duty to keep them safe?”

Home Office minister Kevin Foster offered to examine the cases, replying: “It’s concerning to hear of any attempt to take advantage of a vulnerable person, and if the evidence hasn’t already been supplied to ourselves and to Polish authorities, we’d be grateful for it so we can track down those who may have been involved in offering counterfeit documents.

“I’ll make very clear that counterfeit documents do not work for travel.”

The House heard of similar instances.

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath, said: “A female constituent of mine is sponsoring a young woman who is just 18, on her own. It took more than five weeks for the visa to come through, and there is still paperwork that needs to be finalised.

“This vulnerable young woman is still without protection.

“Is the minister not worried that these long delays will increase the risk of trafficking, and isn’t it an irony that these checks are being done for security reasons, but actually the Government is facilitating criminality?”

Mr Foster said: “They are being done for safeguarding reasons.”

He added there had already been “some instances where… actually a potential sponsor had serious criminal convictions, which would mean that it would be wholly unsuitable for a vulnerable person to be staying with them”.

“We are conscious that we wanted to take advantage of the great generosity many people have shown, that’s why we’ve now granted nearly 90,000 visas. We’re granting thousands more every day, and we look forward to seeing more people being able to come and take up the offers of sanctuary that people are giving.”