Can I settle as an ex-soldier?
Dear Mr Bassie,
I am a Jamaican who was recently a member of the British armed forces and I would like to apply to settle in the United Kingdom. Is this still possible?
Persons can apply to settle in the United Kingdom; this is known as 'indefinite leave to enter' or 'indefinite leave to remain'; if they are leaving or have left HM Forces, including the Brigade of Gurkhas, in the past two years. If a person left the Brigade of Gurkhas before July 1, 1997 he/she may also be able to apply but will need to meet separate requirements.
In order to be eligible, a person must either be leaving or have left the armed forces after a minimum of four years' service; or have been medically discharged. A person's application can be refused if for example he/she has got a criminal record in the United Kingdom or another country; or has provided false or incomplete information to the Home Office; or broken United Kingdom immigration law.
A person may make an application up to 10 weeks before he/she leaves the armed forces or is 'discharged' or 12 weeks if he/she is being medically discharged. Also, a person must make the application within two years from the date of being discharged.
There are certain rules that apply to family members who apply on or after December 1, 2013. A person's 'family members' are his/her partner and children who are under 18 years of age. These family members can apply if the member of the armed forces has been discharged in the past two years and one of the following applies to him/her: he/she is a British citizen; he/she is settled in the United Kingdom or is applying to settle. Family members who have applied before December 1, 2013 may have applied with different requirements. These applications would be governed by the old immigration rules.
Family members can also apply if the member of the armed forces is currently in HM Forces and at least one of the following applies to that person: he/she is a British citizen; has been settled in the United Kingdom; or has at least five years' service. Also, that person's partner must have been in the United Kingdom with permission as his/her partner for five years. Please note that postings outside of the United Kingdom can be included in the five years.
The applicant/sponsor must prove that he/she and the partner intend to live together and have at least: PS18,600 per year if your partner is applying; PS22,400 for your partner and one child; PS2,400 for each additional child. A person will not need to prove he/she has this money if he/she or their partner gets certain disability benefits or Carer's Allowance, however, the sponsor will need to adequately accommodate and support him/herself and any dependents.
A sponsor's partner's application might be refused if, for example, he/she: has a criminal record in the United Kingdom or another country; provided false or incomplete information to the Home Office; or broken United Kingdom immigration law. The sponsor's partner must pass: the 'the Life in the UK Test'; and an English Language Test.
A person's child under 18 years can apply if that person is still serving in the armed forces, a British citizen, settled or settling as ex-HM Forces and one of the following applies: their other parent is either serving in the armed forces or settling as ex-HM Forces; their other parent is applying or has applied to settle as the sponsor's partner; the sponsor has sole responsibility or their other parent has died; or there are serious reasons the child should be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom.
The applicant must also have previously been given permission to stay in the United Kingdom as the sponsor's child; not be married, in a civil partnership or leading an independent life; or be going to live with the sponsor and be supported by him/her without using public funds. Please be aware that a sponsor's child's application may be refused for other reasons, for example, their previous immigration history.
Also, a sponsor's child who is 18 years of age or over may be eligible to settle if he/she was given permission to be in the United Kingdom as that person's child when under 18 years old. That person must meet the same eligibility as a dependent child under 18 years. He/she may also need to pass the 'Life in the UK Test'; and an English Language Test. The sponsor's child who is 18 years or over must apply separately on their own form, if the child is in the United Kingdom he/she will need to download and complete application form SET(AF) and if he/she is in another country, he/she must complete application form VAF AF.
- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (U.K.). Email:firstname.lastname@example.org