Policy which denied Commonwealth veterans visas could be scrapped

British army parade
Support us and go ad-free

A policy which forces Commonwealth troops to pay thousands of pounds to stay in the UK after their service could change following the launch of a public consultation on 26 May. But some say the proposed measures don’t go far enough. The visa scandal has been ongoing for several years now. And it even led to some Fijian veterans being effectively denied the right to stay in the UK.

Currently personnel affected by this policy must pay the £2,389 visa application themselves. The government is reportedly proposing to waive the fee in a new measure which would come into force in the 2021/2022 financial year.

The UK military has thousands of members from former colonies. These include people from Fiji, Nepal, some African nations, and countries like Jamaica and Trinidad.

New consultation

The consultation will last six weeks. It’s hoped new legislation may allow troops automatic citizenship after 12 years.

The MOD acknowledged the scheme in a Twitter video. It showed defence secretary Ben Wallace and home secretary Priti Patel visiting Commonwealth soldiers.

Ben Wallace said:

We owe those who showed us loyal service, our loyalty in return.

It is right that we recognise their contribution by not only smoothing the pathway to residency and citizenship, but also by lifting the financial cost of doing so after 12 years of service.

Patel said:

I am immensely proud that brave servicemen and women from around the world want to continue to call the UK their home after their service.

It is only right that those who continue to do extraordinary work on behalf of our country are recognised and rewarded, and I am determined to support them settle in our wonderful communities right across the UK.

Frankly insulting

It’s not clear that the new scheme will address the problem. Labour’s Stephen Morgan, the Liberal Democrats, and the British Legion all criticised the proposal according to a BBC defence correspondent.

Labour warned that a 12 year starting point for automatic citizenship doesn’t go far enough. It pointed out that the usual length of service is between four and eleven years.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Cpl Alex Morris

Support us and go ad-free

Do your bit for independent journalism

Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.

We need you to help out, if you can.

When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.

You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.

In return you get:

  • Advert free reading experience
  • Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
  • 20% discount from our shop

 

The Canary Fund us