Posted on April 25, 2019
A cross-party group of MPs is calling on the Home Secretary to abolish visa fees for Commonwealth servicemen and women in the British armed forces. They are claiming the current situation forces Commonwealth personnel to choose between leaving the UK or their families. At the moment 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. But application costs have risen to almost £10,000 in visa fees for a service leaver to settle in the UK with a spouse and two children.
Led by Conservative Richard Graham and Labour’s Madeleine Moon, the letter to Sajid Javid has been signed by more than 130 MPs from eight different parties.
Madeleine Moon MP said: “It used to be said an army marches on its stomach. Today an army marches knowing their family is safe and secure. We owe that level of security and confidence to Commonwealth soldiers.”
The Royal British Legion’s ‘Stop the Service Charge’ campaign says they provided £36,000 in grants for visa fees last year alone.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “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. Income from fees charged for immigration and nationality applications plays a vital role in our ability to run a sustainable immigration and nationality system and minimize the burden on the taxpayer. The Home Office reviews fees on a yearly basis.”