Naval Families Federation immigration adviser Pete Hawley has been invited to contribute to a consultation which could result in visa fees being waived for non-UK military personnel at the end of their service.
The public consultation, launched at the end of May by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel, would change policy so that non-UK Service personnel could be offered indefinite leave to remain in the UK for free after serving at least 12 years in the Armed Forces, subject to eligibility criteria.
The proposal from the MOD and Home Office could save each applicant £2,389 in the costs of applications.
The 12-year yardstick reflects the length of time all Service personnel initially sign up to serve, known as the initial engagement period.
There are currently more than 10,000 non-UK citizens serving in the UK Armed Forces from countries around the world including Australia, Canada, Fiji, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and South Africa, many of whom may consider applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK when their service ends.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “We owe those who showed us loyal service our loyalty in return.
“It is right that we recognise their contribution by not only smoothing the pathway to residency and citizenship, but also by lifting the financial cost of doing so after 12 years of service.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I am immensely proud that brave Servicemen and women from around the world want to continue to call the UK their home after their service.
“It is only right that those who continue to do extraordinary work on behalf of our country are recognised and rewarded, and I am determined to support them settle in our wonderful communities right across the UK.”
Leo Docherty, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, said: “That so many non-UK citizens choose to bring their dedication, expertise and bravery to the UK Armed Forces is not something we take for granted, and I am pleased to support this policy proposal.
“We look forward to hearing the public’s view and working together to move these plans forward, strengthening our support to those who want to build a life in the country they bravely defended during their service.”
While Pete has been invited to provide evidence in his role as an OISC Level 1 Immigration Adviser, members of the public can also contribute to the consultation on the proposed policy changes.
The consultation will run until 7 July, and feedback will be used to further inform and shape these changes. Subject to the outcome of the consultation, the proposed policy change is expected to come into effect for Financial Year 2021/22.