Stop The Service Charge
The UK recruits personnel from across the Commonwealth to serve in our Armed Forces. There are currently over 6,000 personnel serving in the UK Armed Forces from Commonwealth countries, with more being recruited each year to fill technical and specialist roles. In 2017, the Army employed approximately 7.1% (5,820) of its personnel from foreign and Commonwealth nations. Of these, the majority came from countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Fiji.
During Service, Commonwealth soldiers are exempt from UK immigration controls. However, this exemption is removed immediately on discharge. Currently, after having served for four years, Commonwealth personnel are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK. If they choose to do this, they face an application fee of £2,389 per person. This means that a Service leaver and their partner are presented with a bill of £4,778 to continue to live in the UK, before taking children and further dependents into account. Over the last five years, there has been considerable increases in the application fee for ILR, rising by 127% from £1,051 to £2,389 per person.
We think these fees are unfair and must be abolished.
It cannot be right that individuals who have travelled from across the Commonwealth to serve in our Armed Forces can be left in financial hardship or have to make difficult decisions about their family life because of the high cost of applying for ILR. Poppyscotland, with support of our parent charity The Royal British Legion and many other Service charities, accordingly maintains that Commonwealth veterans who have given years of Service in the British Armed Forces should be able to continue living in the UK with their families, without incurring significant financial costs to do so.