Visa fees waived for non-UK
Service Personnel

The UK government has announced today that visa fees will be scrapped for non-UK service personnel from this spring.

Visa fees will be waived for those who have served in the UK Armed Forces for a minimum period of six years, or who have been discharged from service due to an illness or injury attributable to their service. The fee waiver will also apply to eligible veterans currently living in the UK who have not regularised their immigration status.

Currently, all non-UK personnel leaving service who wish to settle in the UK have to pay the full fee of £2,389 to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). In 2021 a public consultation was held on a policy proposal to waive these settlement fees for non-UK service personnel leaving the UK Armed Forces who wish to remain in the UK.

Following the consultation, the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office have jointly declared today that the new policy will come into effect this spring. The move is being made in recognition of the valuable contribution that thousands of overseas personnel make to the UK during their service careers.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Last year we sought views from non-UK personnel about how we can best support and recognise their incredible contribution to the UK Armed Forces. I am delighted to announce that eligible personnel and veterans who have served for a period of six years or more, and wish to settle in the UK, will no longer have to pay the visa fee.

It is only right that we have taken this important step to express our sincere gratitude to the brave men and women from outside of the UK who have made such a valuable contribution to the defence of this country. Today, it was a pleasure to meet personnel who will benefit from this change. I wish them all the best for the future.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “There are thousands of brave men and women across the Commonwealth who have served our country with distinction in the military over the years.

Waiving the visa fee for those Commonwealth veterans and Gurkhas with six years’ service who want to settle here is a suitable way of acknowledging their personal contribution and service to our nation.”

Currently there are over 9,000 non-UK citizens serving in the UK armed forces from countries around the world including Australia, Canada, Fiji, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, St Lucia and South Africa, many of whom may consider applying for indefinite leave to remain in the UK when their service ends.

The policy change represents is a significant step towards improving the process for eligible non-UK citizens serving in our Armed Forces in attaining settlement.

As yet, no specific date for the policy’s implementation has been announced. Smith Stone Walters will provide a further update when more details are released. In the meantime, for any UK immigration queires, please contact us today.

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