Rugby Union

Army rugby stars meet with minister over Commonwealth visa struggles

Fijian-born England flyer Semesa Rokodaguni told defence minister Leo Docherty MP more can be done for personnel and their families.

Military rugby players have welcomed a visit from a defence minister to help tackle the visa issues facing service personnel from Commonwealth countries.

Leo Docherty, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, stepped into Aldershot's Army Rugby headquarters to hear how some still struggle to bring their families over to the UK from nations like Fiji, despite a fee waiver announced in February.

Overseas personnel, eligible veterans and those with service-related medical discharge will be able to apply to stay in Britain from spring 2022, without paying a previous visa application fee of £2,389, after six years of service in the UK.

Lance Corporal Semesa Rokodaguni, who has represented England and Bath on the pitch, said some of his friends have struggled to get a visa, but that "it's good to know that there's somebody out there interested in what we go through".

The elite back said it was "massive" for the squad to be able to receive the visit from Mr Docherty, who appreciated "candid feedback" on the process.

"Some Fijians have faced difficulties with getting family members over, because of the income threshold," the minister told Forces News.

The visa fee waiver will not cover the families of overseas personnel.