Changes to UK Immigration Rules Affecting Members of HM Armed Forces

In August this year, the government announced new immigration rules to ensure that families of HM Armed Forces personnel are not disadvantaged by immigration rules and their families can integrate into society. Changes to the current immigration rules will come into force on 1 December 2013 and are intended to align the treatment of non-EEA family members of service personnel with the general approach to family migration. At the same time, they aim to treat all non-EEA dependents of service personnel in the same way irrespective of the immigration status of the sponsor.

Who these Immigration Rules Will Apply to:

There is a new Appendix for HM Armed Forces which covers the non-EEA family members of British service personnel and also the families of foreign or Commonwealth citizens serving in HM Armed Forces (including Ghurkhas discharged since 1 July 1997).

The rules will apply to those seeking to enter or remain in the UK as:

  • A foreign or Commonwealth member of HM Forces (on discharge);
  • A partner or child of a member of HM Forces;
  • A partner or child of a member of non-HM Forces who is exempt from immigration control;
  • A member of non-HM Forces who is not exempt from immigration control; and
  • A partner or child of a member of non-HM Forces who is not exempt from immigration control.

Financial Requirements to Apply to Members of HM Armed Forces

A minimum income threshold has been introduced which must be satisfied by producing specified evidence. Service personnel who wish to sponsor their non-EEA dependents to either enter or stay in the UK must meet a minimum threshold of £18,600 for a partner, £22,400 for a partner and child and £2,400 for each additional child.

It is interesting to note that the explanatory notes states:

“Following the High Court’s judgement in the case of MM and Others and in line with the approach currently taken in respect of applications under Appendix FM, applications which fall to be refused solely because the income threshold is not met will be placed on hold until MM and Others is determined finally by the courts.”

Additional Changes to Immigration Rules for HM Armed Forces

In addition to the financial requirements, the following rules will apply:

  • A basic English language requirement will apply to all non-EEA partners of members of HM Armed Forces seeking to enter or stay in the UK;
  • Non-EEA partners of British or foreign or Commonwealth citizens serving in HM Armed Forces will serve a five year probationary period before being eligible to apply for settlement; and
  • To qualify for settlement non-EEA partners and children between the ages 18 and 65 will have to demonstrate their knowledge of language and life in the UK.

Immigration Lawyers for UK Armed Forces Visas

If you are a member of the Armed Forces or your family member is in the Armed Forces and you wish to know more about applying for settlement or leave to remain, you should seek legal advice from expert UK Immigration Solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to ensure that you know your options and how you can proceed to the next steps. Feel free to contact us to discuss your immigration situation and we will assess your case and provide you with options.

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