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Restrictions On Commonwealth Personnel In British Military Lifted

Those from inside the Commonwealth will not need British citizenship to apply.

Those from inside the Commonwealth will not need British citizenship to apply (Picture: MoD).

British residency requirements for Commonwealth citizens who wish to join the Armed Forces have been scrapped.

The Ministry of Defence has removed the need for Commonwealth citizens to have lived in the UK for five years before applying for service.

Applicants from nations including India, Australia, Canada and Fiji will be considered for all roles in the forces, without having lived in Britain.

Since 2016, a maximum of 200 Commonwealth recruits have been allowed to apply for certain jobs without meeting a residency requirement.

All other Commonwealth applicants who have lived in Britain for five years have been eligible to apply.

Now the cap has been lifted.

Anonymous troops

The Armed Forces are struggling to recruit enough personnel to fill a shortfall in their ranks and the MoD hopes the move will allow it to enlist an extra 1,350 personnel annually.

The Army will begin the admissions from early next year, while the Navy and RAF will commence the process immediately.

Those from inside the Commonwealth will not need British citizenship to apply.

In April, a National Audit Office report said the full-time military was running at a 5.7% shortfall.

An extra 8,200 regulars and 2,400 engineers were needed to fill the "largest gap in a decade", the report added, while intelligence analysts and pilots were also in demand.

The public spending watchdog is carrying out a review of army recruitment, including the contract with outsourcing firm Capita.

Critics have called for Capita to be stripped of its contract over forces staffing shortfalls.

Royal Marines during an exercise
Citizens from Commonwealth nations will no longer have their numbers capped at 200 a year (Picture: Crown Copyright

In January the Army unveiled a recruitment advertising campaign reported to have cost £1.6 million.

It intended to encourage more people from different backgrounds, genders, sexualities and faiths to join up.

However, it was criticised for failing to target those most interested in joining the forces.

Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said the main group of people considering signing up are more worried about "how they are going to face combat".

He added: "This also reflects the fact that the Army, like the rest of Government, is being forced down a route of political correctness.

"What is most important is that the Army recruits and is full of soldiers. It's of secondary importance that they reflect the composition of society."