Royal British Legion demands government scraps ‘exorbitant’ fees faced by Commonwealth soldiers who want to stay in the UK after leaving the British armed forces
- Commonwealth personnel have to pay fees to stay in the UK under current rules
- Visa fees for a sevice leader and their family can be up to £10,000
- The Royal British Legion are asking for the ‘exorbitant’ visa fees to be scrapped
Soldiers from Commonwealth countries fighting with the UK’s armed forces have a another battle on their hands – staying in the country when their time with the services is complete.
A veterans charity has slammed the government because members from Commonwealth countries have to pay thousands of pounds in visa fees to stay in the country when they leave the military.
Leading military charity the Royal British Legion is calling for the ‘exorbitant’ fees to be scrapped.
Under current rules when Commonwealth personnel leave and apply to continue to living in Britain, they face a huge bill in spite of their years of sacrifice and service on behalf of the nation.
Members from Commonwealth countries who serve with the UK armed forces have to pay thousands of pounds in visa fees to stay in the country when they leave the military (file photo)
The Royal British Legion is encouraging the government to scrap the fees. Pictured above: An image from the charity’s 2020 Poppy Appeal
What are the charges for Commonwealth personnel?
The Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, the majority of which were former territories of the British Empire.
For decades the UK has recruited soldiers from across the Commonwealth to serve in Britain’s Armed Forces.
There are currently over 6,000 personnel serving in the UK Armed Forces from foreign and Commonwealth countries.
More are recruited each year to fill technical and specialist roles.
Commonwealth citizens serving in the UK armed forces have the right to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after four years’ service if they choose to stay in the UK.
Unlike their colleagues born in the UK, these personnel and their families can only continue to live in the UK if they pay.
Application costs have risen considerably in recent years, meaning a service leaver with a partner and two children will have to pay almost £10,000 in visa fees if they want to stay in the UK – the country they have served.
The Royal British Legion said: ‘This is unfair and should end.’
A service leaver with a partner and two children will have to pay almost £10,000 if they want to stay in the UK.
The RBL are asking people to write to the government and lobby MPs get the charge dropped.
A Legion spokesman said: ‘Exorbitant immigration fees are no way to thank them for their service – it risks pushing Commonwealth men and women into poverty as they leave the Services.
‘Without leave to remain, UK armed forces veterans are cut off from being able to get a job and employment and state support – leaving them and their families reliant on charitable funds or even facing repatriation to their country of origin.
‘The UK Armed Forces recruit soldiers from across the Commonwealth to serve here – many of these soldiers leave behind family and friends to move across the world to serve here and have become a backbone of our armed forces capability.
‘There are currently over 6,000 personnel serving in the UK Armed Forces from foreign and Commonwealth countries and more are being recruited each year to fill technical and specialist roles.’
‘Only two years ago the Government announced its intention to increase its reliance on Commonwealth personnel and hoped to recruit 1,350 personnel a year.
‘But unlike their UK national colleagues, these personnel and their families can only continue to live in the country they have served at a significant financial cost – this is unfair and must end.
The Legion is now urging people to register their protest using the hashtag #StopTheServiceCharge.