Commonwealth Citizens serving in the HRM Armed Forces have different routes available to remain in the UK.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
Commonwealth Citizens who are discharged from the Armed Services can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Provided, they have completed four years’ service by the date of discharge. This is subject to the normal criteria for ILR, including the good character requirement, unspent criminal convictions, etc.
The UK Home Office operates a process to expedite settlement for Armed Forces personnel. This is done by allowing them to submit an ILR application ten weeks before discharge. This expedited application is to ease the transition for such personnel into civilian life. This will give the applicant immediate access to the labour market and benefits, as settlement should then be granted on the day of discharge or shortly after that.
If a member of the Armed Forces are discharged, and no application for settlement in the UK has been submitted by the day of discharge, the UK Home Office will grant a period of 28 days of leave to allow such a person to submit an application or leave the UK.
Commonwealth Citizens can apply for British Citizenship while they are still serving in the HRM Armed Forces. This is subject to the normal criteria for a British Citizenship application. Absences from the UK while serving will not prevent an applicant from meeting the five-year UK residence requirement.
Should a person not apply for British Citizenship while serving, and then be discharged, they can still apply for naturalisation as a British Citizen.
A member of the Armed Forces will be able to apply for their spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner, and children under 18, for dependency visas. They have different options open to them regarding the applications. This will depend on how long the soldier has already served in the Armed Forces at the date the dependent wants to apply. Eventually, dependents will be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. Provided all the conditions, including the residence requirements, are met. They will then be eligible to apply for British Citizenship in most cases after 12 months.
How Breytenbachs can help you
If you are a member of the Armed Forces and need advice or assistance with your UK Immigration matter, please feel free to contact us.