The Ministry of Defence and the Home Office are proposing to waive the costs of applications, saving each applicant £2,389 in fees.
If the proposal is approved, non-UK service personnel would be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain, subject to eligibility criteria, after serving at least 12 years – the length of time all service personnel initially sign up to serve, known as the initial engagement period.
Currently there are over 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 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.”
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty 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.
“The public is encouraged to have their say on the proposed policy changes when the consultation period begins on 26 May. Feedback will be used to further inform and shape these important changes and subject to the outcome of the public consultation the proposed policy change is expected to come into effect for Financial Year 2021/22.”
The public consultation will run for six weeks from 26 May to 7 July and can be accessed on GOV.UK.