• Wednesday, September 28, 2022

News

Visa boost for non-UK troops

(Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRED TANNEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pooja Shrivastava

THOUSANDS of non-UK service personnel who have served in the Army, Royal Navy, or Royal Air Force for at least 12 years may soon have their costs of applying to settle in Britain waived off if proposals are approved by ministers.

Under a draft policy proposal by the Ministry of Defence and Home Office, visa application fees for non-UK service personnel, who meet certain criteria when applying for settlement in the UK at the end of their service, should be waived off.

Current rules state that non-UK service personnel has to pay £2,389 for indefinite leave to remain in Britain. Also, they have six weeks to apply for leave-to-remain status, but under the new proposals, troops could use the last two years of their service to ensure the necessary paperwork is completed.

A public consultation is now open and will run for six weeks, until July 7. The policy is likely to come into effect later this year.

A joint statement by defence secretary Ben Wallace and home secretary Priti Patel MP said,

“As a nation, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to all those who serve in our Armed Forces. Whilst the specific Immigration Rules recognise the service and commitment that non-UK Service Personnel make to our nation by providing a straightforward route to settlement in the UK, the current system does place a financial liability on them.

That is why we have asked officials to consider a proposal which would ease the financial liability of immigration fees for Service Personnel who meet the normal eligibility criteria and have served at least 12 years should they decide to transition to civilian life in the UK.”

The proposal does not currently extend to spouses or civil partners and dependent children. However, views are welcomed by the government on whether this policy should be amended.

The breakthrough comes after a high-profile court case involving eight Fijian troops, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq but were denied indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Their case, supported by former Army commander and Conservative MP Sir Bob Stewart, triggered a campaign that has been recognised by the government.

 

 

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