Government agree to scrap visa fees for Commonwealth military personnel
Since March 2019 we have been calling on the UK Government to scrap visa fees for military personnel from Commonwealth countries who wish to stay in the UK after they leave service in the UK’s Armed Forces.
We are delighted to announce that from 6 April 2022, changes to immigration regulations mean that the £2,389 fee payable by Commonwealth service personnel upon application to continue living in the country they have served will now be waived, provided that they have served for at least 6 years.
This will have a huge impact on the lives of many serving personnel who are Commonwealth citizens, of which there are over 5,000 currently serving in the UK Armed Forces.
Following a long and hard fought campaign from Poppyscotland, the Royal British Legion (RBL) and our supporters, the UK Government published a consultation in May 2021 proposing that Commonwealth personnel who have served a minimum of 12 years – just a third of the Commonwealth citizens serving in our Armed Forces - would no longer have to pay fees to continue calling this country home.
This was not good enough, so we continued campaigning and in February 2022 the UK Government announced that it would reduce this qualifying period to 6 years. Alongside a promise that those who leave Service due to injury or illness will also be included no matter how long they’ve served, this benefits far more Commonwealth personnel and is a more fitting thank you to the Commonwealth UK Armed Forces community for their years of Service.
Support for families
This progress is a huge step forward for those personnel who join the UK Armed Forces from overseas. However, our campaign is not yet over and our fight for a fairer deal for Commonwealth personnel and their families continues.
We believe that families are an integral part of the UK Armed Forces community and should not be forgotten.
Families experience the same stresses, strains and sacrifices of Service life as our soldiers, sailors and airmen and women, including accompanying them on postings and supporting them through deployments. Quite simply, our Armed Forces couldn’t do what they do without their family support networks.
- The costs to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK are the same for each member of a serving Commonwealth person’s family - £2,389 per person.
- That would mean that to secure the residency rights of their spouse and two children, the Commonwealth serving person would still have to find almost £7,500 to apply for their family to stay in the country they have collectively sacrificed a great deal to serve.
- These fees have risen from £155 to £2,389 per person since 2003, making it even harder to meet the visa costs.
Unlike their UK national colleagues, these Commonwealth personnel and their families can only continue to live in the country they’ve served at significant financial cost.
If they cannot pay, regardless of their years of service and sacrifice, they can be denied access to state services and support, and ultimately removed from the UK. This is unfair and must end.
We therefore continue to call on the UK Government to do right by Commonwealth personnel and their immediate families by extending the recently announced fee waiver to the immediate family of the Commonwealth serving person.