Anonymous soldier
Veterans

Government Urged To 'Abolish' Visa Fees For Commonwealth Veterans

Applications for a visa can cost thousands of pounds, and the Royal British Legion is asking for the Government to abolish fees altogether.

Anonymous soldier

Veterans who served for at least four years have the option to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK (Picture: Crown Copyright).

A military charity is calling for change over the costs for former British military personnel from Commonwealth countries to stay in the UK.

Applications for a visa can cost thousands of pounds, and the Royal British Legion (RBL) is asking for the Government to abolish fees altogether.

During service, Commonwealth personnel are exempt from UK immigration controls, but this exemption is removed upon leaving the military.

Around 6,000 Commonwealth citizens are currently employed by the British military.

The need for Commonwealth citizens to have lived in the UK for five years before applying for service was removed last year.

Veterans who served for at least four years have the option to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, with fees costing thousands of pounds per person.

Personnel were part of London's Commonwealth Day celebrations on Monday

Under current immigration rules, foreign workers must earn £18,600 to apply for their spouse to live in the UK.

The minimum income requirement to bring over one child is £22,400 with an additional £2,400 for each child thereafter.

A soldier's basic pay at the rank of Private after training is £18,859 a year.

The RBL says it helps hundreds of veterans during the application process.

"[Commonwealth veterans] should be able to continue living in the UK with their families, without incurring significant financial costs," says Charles Byrne, Director General of the RBL.

"This is a poor way of saying thank you to people we encouraged to leave their countries to come to and serve in the British Armed Forces.

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Around 6,000 Commonwealth citizens are currently employed by the British military (Picture: MOD).

"We urge the Home Secretary to take action to help Commonwealth military veterans who have served this country loyally and abolish all visa application fees."

The Home Office says it reviews visa fees each year, and a spokesperson for the department said: "The Government highly values the service of all members of HM Forces, including Commonwealth nationals.

"We are committed to upholding our obligations under the Armed Forces Covenant, to ensure that no one who is serving, or who has served, or their family members are disadvantaged as a result of their service."