Former Defence Minister Philip Dunne MP is backing cross party efforts calling on the government to scrap visa fees for UK Armed Forces veterans from the Commonwealth.
Current legislation exempts Commonwealth personnel from immigration controls during their service, and they are eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain following a minimum of four years’ service. But applications costs for Indefinite Leave to Remain have risen to £2,389, meaning a service leaver with a spouse and two children could face a bill of almost £10,000 to remain in the UK.
As a result of these fees, many Commonwealth service leavers rely on financial support from charities such as the Royal British Legion to meet the cost of visa fees to remain in the UK. Approximately 400 Commonwealth service leavers apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain each year.
Mr Dunne, who joined 133 MPs from across the House of Commons in calling for change, said:
“As a former Defence Minister, I know the high esteem with which Commonwealth service personnel are held within the Armed Forces. It does not seem right to me that those who volunteer come to this country to serve in our Armed Forces, can be presented with a hefty bill if they wish to remain here once their duty is done.
I was pleased to back this campaign, led by my good colleague Richard Graham MP, and call on the Home Secretary Sajid Javid to do the right thing, and waive these fees for good.”