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F & C Personnel – Leaving the Service

F & C Personnel – Leaving the Service

On 25 October 2004, the Immigration Rules were amended to provide for all those with at least 4 years’ reckonable service within Her Majesty’s Armed Forces to apply for settlement in the UK after discharge.

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

To assist HM Forces personnel in making the transition to civilian life, settlement applications may be lodged up to 10 weeks before the discharge date, although settlement cannot be granted until after exemption from immigration control has ceased upon their discharge.

 

The Immigration Rules make provision for applications for settlement to be made either from overseas or from within the UK.

 

When a serving member of HM Forces is discharged from the Armed Forces, the exemption from immigration control stamp is cancelled by the Unit Personnel Office (UPO) contacting the Home Office and they will then have 28 days to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in order to remain in the UK.

 

Requirements for a grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain

(Applications made from within the United Kingdom)

 

The requirements for indefinite leave to remain as a Foreign or Commonwealth citizen discharged from HM Forces are that the applicant:

  • has completed at least four years’ service with HM Forces; or
  • meets the medical discharge criteria (please refer to the section below) and
  • is not in the UK in breach of immigration laws except that any period of overstaying for a period of 28 days or less will be disregarded; and
  • does not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal

 

Requirements for a grant of Indefinite Leave to Enter

(For applications made from outside the United Kingdom)

 

The requirements for indefinite leave to enter the United Kingdom as a foreign or Commonwealth citizen discharged from HM Forces are that the applicant:

  • has completed at least four years’ service with HM Forces; and
  • was discharged from HM Forces on completion of engagement; and
  • was not discharged from HM Forces more than 2 years prior to the date on which the application is made; and
  • does not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal

 

Spouses and children

Please note that spouses are only eligible for Indefinite Leave to remain (ILR) on discharge if the serving Commonwealth person is also eligible. Spouse has limited leave visa issued under Appendix Armed Forces. You should have a visa issued for five years and will not be eligible to apply for ILR until 28 days prior to the visa expiring.

 

You will need to meet the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK requirements and minimum income requirements.  Complete form SET(AF), you will need to tick the box marked ‘partner or child of a member of HM Forces who has been discharged’ on page 3.

 

If you were not issued a visa for 5 years please contact NFF for advice on any potential options that may be open to you.

 

Spouse does not have a 5 year visa or is an overstayer

If you are an overstayer or are not sure what type of visa you have, please contact the NFF for advice on any potential options that may be open to you.

Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain for those who have served less than 4 years
Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain for those who have served less than 4 years
  • Please refer to Medical Discharge.

 

Note: Reckonable Service

To qualify under the Immigration Rules relating to discharge, the applicant must have completed a minimum of four years reckonable service. Details of an applicant’s reckonable service are provided by the applicant’s Unit Personnel Office (UPO).

 

However, in general, Reckonable Service is all service when an HM Forces member is not:

  • absent without leave (AWOL)
  • detained in military detention
  • detained serving a sentence in one of Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP), Young Offenders Institutions (YOI) or Youth Justice Board (YJB) establishments
  • on a career break
Summary - Requirements for ILR and Application Process
  • Application for ILR cannot be made during service, unless discharge date is set.
  • Application for ILR can be made after a minimum of 4 years’ reckonable service.
  • Application for ILR costs £2389 for main applicant and £2389 for each additional dependant.
  • Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain are made on Form Set (AF)
  • To access form SET (AF) click here
  • If the F&C service person has been discharged and decides to return to country of origin before applying for settlement, an application for Indefinite Leave to Enter from country of origin, can be made up to 2 years’ post discharge.
  • Applications made outside United Kingdom should be made online using the online service.
  • Please click on the section:
    • ­Relevant civilian employee, former member of UK armed forces (HM forces) or a bereaved family member’ (near the bottom of the drop down list)
    • For ‘Visa type’ – select: ‘Former UK Armed Forces (HM Forces)
    • The Current Visa Fee: £1523.00
Medical Discharge (MD) – Basic Requirements

To assist the HM Forces member who is being medically discharged in making the transition from Service to civilian life, applications for settlement from medical discharges may be lodged up to 10 weeks before the discharge date. Although settlement cannot be granted until after discharge has taken place.

 

Where a Foreign or Commonwealth member of HM Forces is medically discharged as a direct result of injury sustained during operations, the requirement for them to have completed four years‟ service to qualify for settlement should normally be waived by the Home Office and they should in theory be granted settlement.

 

Basic Requirements

To apply under the rules relating to medical discharge, the applicant must:

  • have completed at least four years reckonable service with HM Forces (this excludes periods where the applicant was absent without leave, in military detention or on unpaid leave)
  • meet the medical discharge criteria, and on the date of the application:
    • have been discharged from HM Forces less than two years before the date of application
    • if medically discharged more than two years before, new information regarding their prognosis is being considered
    • have been granted their most recent period of limited leave under either paragraph 15 or 19 of Appendix Armed Forces or under paragraphs 276KA or 276QA of the Immigration Rules as a foreign or Commonwealth citizen who has been discharged from HM Forces or under the concession which existed in respect of those medically discharged from HM Forces.
MD for those who have served less than 4 years

The Immigration Rules enable a person who has served for less than 4 years and is being medically discharged to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the following circumstances:

  • Where the cause was attributable to deployment in an operational theatre
  • Where the cause was not attributable to deployment in an operational theatre but it is appropriate to grant leave to enter or remain in the UK following an assessment of the following factors:
    • The seriousness of the injury
    • The need for further medical treatment in relation to the illness or injury and the availability of such medical treatment in the applicant’s country of origin.
    • The prognosis for recovery, including whether the injury or illness will affect the applicants ability to support themselves in their country of origin and
    • The length of reckonable service in HM Forces at the time of the applicants discharge.

 

Applications for Limited Leave

If a person cannot meet the requirements for a grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain, then Limited Leave may be granted in the following circumstances:

  • The cause of the medical discharge was attributable to service in HM Forces and
  • It would be considered appropriate to grant limited leave to facilitate further medical treatment or a period of recovery.
Impacts of Injuries – Settlement Applications for ILR

The Immigration Rules permits a person who is being medically discharged, but has served for less than 4 years, to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the following circumstances:

  • Where the cause of the injury was the result of deployment in an operational theatre.
  • Where the cause was not the result of deployment in an operational theatre, but it is appropriate to grant leave to enter or remain in the UK following an assessment of the following factors:
    • The seriousness of the injury.
    • The need for further medical treatment in relation to the illness or injury and the availability of such medical treatment in the applicant’s country of origin.
    • The prognosis for recovery, including whether the injury or illness will affect the applicant’s ability to support themselves in their country of origin; and
    • The length of reckonable service in HM Forces at the time of the applicant’s discharge.

 

The Immigration Rules enable a F & C service person who has served less than 4 years and is being medically discharged to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the following circumstances:

  • Causes resulting from a deployment.
  • Causes that have not been a result of a deployment in an operational theatre, where it is appropriate to grant leave to enter or remain in UK after assessment.

 

Application Process – Application for ILR on Medical Discharge
  • Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain are made on Form Set (AF)
  • Form Set (AF) cost is £2389 per applicant.
  • Access form SET (AF)
Impacts of Injuries – Applications for Limited Leave to Remain

If a person cannot meet the requirements for a grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain, then Limited Leave may be granted in the following circumstances:

  • The cause of the medical discharge was due to service in HM Forces, and
  • It would be considered appropriate to grant limited leave to facilitate further medical treatment or a period of recovery.

 

Application Process – Application for Limited Leave to Remain on Medical Discharge
  • Applications for Limited Leave to remain are made on Form FLR (AF).
  • Application FLR (AF) cost is £1033.00 per applicant.
Applications for Leave to Remain if injury or medical condition was not a result of HM Forces service and the applicant has not completed at least 4 Years Reckonable Service
Applications for Leave to Remain if injury or medical condition was not a result of HM Forces service and the applicant has not completed at least 4 Years Reckonable Service

If an injury or a medical condition is not attributable to the person’s HM Forces service and they have not served at least 4 years reckonable service, it is unlikely that the Home Office UKVI will grant permission to continue residing in the UK after discharge. Nevertheless, the Home Office are obliged to consider any application on a case by case basis and these will be considered ‘outside the immigration rules’. Please contact Pete Hawley of Naval Families Federation before attempting an application of this type.

 

For those previously discharged and refused settlement – there is important information that former HM Forces members may not be aware of:
  • Any cases of medically discharged servicemen or women who sustained an injury during operations and had previously been refused settlement will now be reviewed in line with the recent Home Office guidance, where such cases are brought to the Home Office’s attention. The requirement to have been discharged no more than 2 years prior to the date of application would also be waived in re-consideration cases.
  • Cases where the Home Office may exercise discretion would include where discharge of a HM Armed Forces member who has completed initial training results directly from an injury sustained on duty but outside an operational theatre (e.g. during pre-deployment training) or from a medical condition attributable to their training or service.
  • In such cases, the Home Office may exercise discretion to waive the 4 years minimum service requirement under the settlement rules, especially where the injury is of a serious nature and the long-term prognosis is poor or where there will be an ongoing need for medical treatment which is not available in the individual’s home country.
British Citizenship Applications prior to discharge

All information about applying for British citizenship can be found in the British Citizenship section click here.

 

IMPORTANT: You should only apply for citizenship if you have at least four to six months before your date of discharge. The reason for this is because applications can take up to six months to process and you won’t be able to continue with a successful transition if you don’t have evidence of your right to remain in the UK.

 

Commonwealth service personnel are in a unique situation in that they can apply for citizenship without first requiring ILR. This is because their exempt stamp is considered to be ILR and are therefore ‘free from Immigration time restrictions’ for the purposes of naturalising.

 

If you are considering British Citizenship it makes sense to apply during Service as it means that you won’t have to then apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) on discharge, thus saving a lot of time and money.  Please be aware that there is no requirement to apply for citizenship to be able to remain permanently in the UK, you are only required to get ILR so this is a personal choice.

 

Becoming a British citizen does not affect your spouse’s visa.

 

What happens if my application for citizenship is not processed prior to the end of the 28 days?
  • Unlike applications for visas, your immigration status at the time of application for naturalisation will not continue whilst the application is being processed. So once the 28 days is over, you will be considered to be an overstayer. However, your application for citizenship will not be refused if you become an overstayer.
  • The main problem with becoming an overstayer is in cases where the citizenship application is refused. As an overstayer, you will theoretically not be eligible for ILR and may have to apply for limited leave to be able to remain in the UK. You should therefore be very careful to read the citizenship guidance (particularly the good character guidance) to ensure you meet all the requirements.

 

Applying for Citizenship after discharge

As highlighted in the paragraphs above, this can be a costly route to citizenship but may be a necessity down to personal circumstances. Please be aware that:

  • You can only apply for citizenship after discharge if you have already been granted ILR. If you haven’t applied for citizenship prior to discharge, you will need to apply for ILR instead within 28 days of the date of your discharge.
  • Discharged Commonwealth personnel can apply for citizenship immediately after they have been granted ILR if they meet all of the the other requirements. There is no requirement to wait for 12 months ‘free from Immigration time restrictions’.
  • This information is clearly written in the UKBA guidance, see below. This applies to all Commonwealth personnel
    • “While in the Armed Services, applicants are exempt from immigration control and therefore free of immigration time restrictions. Applicants will have been free of immigration time restrictions throughout their period of Service. In many cases, former Armed Services personnel will have been granted ILR on discharge and will meet the requirement to have been free of immigration time restrictions in the 12 months prior to the date of application.”

 

Please be aware that spouses will need to apply for ILR and then wait for 12 months prior to applying for citizenship as they were not exempt from immigration control at the time of the application.

Summary – Discharge
  • Application for ILR Set (AF) can be made 10 weeks prior to medical discharge. Settlement cannot be granted until after discharge.
  • Application for ILR Set (AF) can be made before a minimum of 4 years’ reckonable service in exceptional circumstances.
  • Application for ILR using form Set (AF) costs £2389 for main applicant and £2389 for each additional dependant.
  • Form FLR (AF) is used for F&C personnel requiring treatment before returning to country of origin, but not seeking settlement.
  • If the F&C service person has been Medically Discharged because of injuries sustained during Operational deployment or training and sent back to country of origin, they now have the right to apply.
  • If the F&C service person has been Medically Discharged as a result of injuries sustained during Operational deployment or training and sent back to country of origin, they have the right to apply for Leave to Enter.
  • If you are considering an application for British Citizenship and you are eligible, start the process early
  • Applications made outside United Kingdom should be made online using the online service:
    • Please click on the section:
      • ‘Relevant civilian employee, former member of UK armed forces (HM forces) or a bereaved family member’ (near bottom of drop down list)
      • For ‘Visa type’ – select:  ‘Former UK Armed Forces (HM Forces)
      • The Current Visa Fee:  £1523.00
Useful Links and Information
  • For Home Office guidance on settlement applications from members of HM Forces who have been discharged, click here.

 

Application Forms
Posted on: 8th September, 2020