Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey yesterday tabled a Bill to exempt members of the British Armed Forces and their families from “exorbitant” immigration fees.
There are several thousand Foreign and Commonwealth nationals serving in our Armed Forces. Under the Immigration Rules, those who have served for four years or more are entitled to apply for indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK upon discharge, and to sponsor applications for their partners and children.
However, the fees for these applications have more than doubled since 2015, and now stand at £2,389 per person. This means that the cost of applying for a family of four is £9,556.
Ed Davey’s Immigration (Armed Forces) Bill would remove financial requirements and fees for applications for indefinite leave to remain from Foreign or Commonwealth members of the Armed Forces and their families.
Mr Davey has also tabled an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to waive the application fees, and is encouraging MPs from all parties to support it.
Ahead of the presentation of his Bill, Ed Davey said:
“Thousands of men and women from Commonwealth nations risk their lives in service of our country as members of Britain’s Armed Forces. They have the right to live here with their families once their service ends, but the Home Office’s exorbitant application fees are preventing them from taking up that right.
“These fees have forced some veterans to leave the UK, others to live here undocumented and unable to work, and many others to take out big loans that they cannot afford. This is clearly an unfair burden on those who have contributed so much to our country.
“Our veterans deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better for them. My bill would exempt all members of the Armed Forces and their families from immigration fees, in recognition of the enormous debt we owe them.
“As with the campaign for the rights of Gurkhas a decade ago, I believe that this is an issue on which members of all parties can come together to ensure that the UK upholds its obligations to our veterans.”