Jamie Stone, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for defence, has tabled an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill calling for visa fees for commonwealth troops to be waived. This proposal comes in light of the £1,500 price tag attached to indefinite leave to remain for overseas personnel, as well as the potential bill of almost £10,000 for someone with a partner and two children to stay in Britain.
The Liberal Democrats are calling for a clause to be inserted to the Immigration Act of 2014 stating that "no fees may be charged in respect of a serving or previously serving member of the UK armed forces, or their family members, applying for indefinite leave to remain under Appendix Armed Forces of the Immigration Rules.” This new clause would mean that the costly fee for any current or previous member of the UK Armed forces and their families would be dropped.
The UK Government are considering allowing Commonwealth troops to stay in Britain for free, but only after they have served 12 years in the military. The Government proposal does not stretch to family members.
After tabling the amendment, Mr Stone commented:
“Having tabled an amendment on this issue, I welcome the Government’s announcement of a consultation into scrapping immigration application fees. However, the proposals do not go far enough.
“What is currently on the table offers nothing for the family members of veterans. As things stand, they will still face fees of over £1,500 per person. This is appalling.
“Foreign and Commonwealth citizens have a proud legacy of serving our country in the Armed Forces. Excessive application fees have prevented many brave veterans from taking up their right to settle in the UK with their families. These women and men risk their lives in the service of our country, and they deserve better.
“The Government has an opportunity to enshrine this in law, by supporting my amendment to the Armed Forces Bill which would scrap fees for service leavers and their families immediately.”