Commonwealth citizens approaching discharge from HM Armed Forces can qualify for settlement. The final round of armed forces redundancies was announced earlier this year. If you are facing discharge from the armed forces and are not a British citizen, it is important to understand the legal position.

by Bruce Mennell | | Blog

Commonwealth citizens approaching discharge from HM Armed Forces can qualify for settlement. The final round of armed forces redundancies was announced earlier this year. If you are facing discharge from the armed forces and are not a British citizen, it is important to understand the legal position. Members of HM Armed Forces are exempt from immigration control during their service, and will have a stamp stating:

'Holder is exempt under Section 8(4) of the Immigration Act 1971.'

The exemption from immigration control only lasts as long as the person is a member of HM Armed Forces, and therefore ends on the date of discharge. In general, those with 4 years' reckonable service will qualify for settlement in the UK upon their discharge. However it is important to realise that submitting an application for settlement (also known as 'indefinite leave to remain') does not have the effect of regularising a person's status, even if the application is submitted before the date of discharge. Applications for settlement can take several months to be processed by the Home Office, and the discharged person will have difficulty in finding his/her next employment in this period, since they will not have the right to work before their application is approved. To avoid this situation, a person approaching discharge should ensure that their unit commander completes an HM Forces / Home Office discharge proforma, which will confirm the date of enlistment and discharge. The proforma should be forwarded to the Home Office, to allow the individual to be granted 28 days leave to remain, so that they can submit an application for settlement during the currency of their temporary leave. This would have the effect that the person can legally live and work in the UK as long as their settlement application remains pending with the immigration authorities. For further information contact a member of our immigration team on 0207 993 8975.

Alexander Finch, Senior Adviser,
Passportia
© Passportia Limited Photo by Dmitry B / CC by 2.0


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