Activists call for loyalty of Commonwealth troops to be recognised


Gurkha soldiers from Nepal are among those who have served in the British Army with distinction.
Gurkha soldiers from Nepal are among those who have served in the British Army with distinction.

by Nadeem Badshah FORMER UK military staff from Commonwealth countries should be exempt from paying “rocketing” immigration fees to settle in Britain, campaigners have said. Personnel who leave the Armed Forces after four years of service have to pay visa application costs that have risen by 127 per cent in the last five years, up from £1,051 to £2,389. Each year, around 500 personnel from Commonwealth nations, including India and Pakistan, leave the military. They are faced with paying the fees if they wish to remain in the UK and bring family members over. During service, Commonwealth personnel are exempt from paying the fees. While waiting for a decision on their settlement status, former troops are unable to work, claim benefits, or register with a GP. The Royal British Legion is calling for the rule to be scrapped, and has been backed by MPs and families of war heroes. Jaimal Singh Johal is the grandson of British Indian Army Subedar Manta Singh, who died fighting in France in 1915. His father Colonel Assa and uncle Mohar served in the same regiment during the Second World War. Johal told Eastern Eye: “They have committed everything to Britain. I am in favour [of the rule being scrapped]. The descendants of those who sacrificed should be given some preference. “The fees are quite high. When we registered for British citizenship, the fee was nominal. They should be given help if they have given something to Britain and not be charged so much money.” A former soldier from a Commonwealth nation and their partner have to pay £4,778 to continue to live in the UK. Since their introduction in 2003, fees have increased overall by 1,441 per cent. If veterans cannot pay the fees, they face deportation. Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, whose maternal great…

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