I’ve signed a cross-party letter calling on the Home Secretary to abolish visa fees for Commonwealth servicemen and women.
During service, Commonwealth soldiers are exempt from UK immigration controls but this exemption is removed immediately upon discharge. Those who have served four years in the UK’s Armed Forces are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). If they choose to do this though, they face an application fee of £2,389 per person – a fee that has increased by 127% in the last five years alone. This means that a Service leaver and their partner are presented with a bill of £4,778 to continue living in the UK, before taking any children they have into account.
Thousands of Commonwealth personnel serve with our armed forces, and more are being recruited each year where there are shortages and to fill technical and specialist roles. It’s wrong that these men and women face costs of potentially thousands of pounds to live in the country they have proudly and loyally fought for.
I fully support the Royal British Legion ‘Stop The Service Charge’ campaign and I know it has the full support of our local RBL branches who’ve been in touch with me. It’s time we appropriately recognised the sacrifices made by Commonwealth personnel and their families in the service of the UK’s Armed Forces.
For more information on the Royal British Legion’s ‘Stop The Service Charge’ campaign, visit: https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/…/…/commonwealth-visa-fees/