Following changes to immigration and nationality law, AFF has been on the road visiting camps around the country. With Shorncliffe in Kent among the many stops, F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston reveals that citizenship concerns topped families’ agendas…

WE ANSWERED lots of questions about the new minimum income requirement, how to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), citizenship and the options available when your soldier leaves the Army.

Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) was a hot topic for the Nepalese families based in Shorncliffe as many of them were granted this visa on entry to the UK from Brunei and were concerned they needed to apply for ILR.

Help for families

Gurkha soldiers are not able to apply for citizenship whilst they are still serving but as a spouse, you’re eligible once you have ILR/E and meet the requirements.

This includes taking the Life in the UK and English Language test, as well as being in the UK on the first day of the five-year qualifying period.

The good news is that children of Gurkha families are now eligible to apply for citizenship once the spouse has been granted.

Strong feelings

At Deepcut, one of your main concerns was the minimum income requirement, which was introduced in December 2013 for soldiers wishing to bring dependants to the UK or switch their spouse onto a dependant visa.

Many of you were angry about the level of income required, especially those soldiers who had enlisted before the rules changed.

Coming to a town near you

We’re planning to visit more areas in the future, so if you’d like us to give a presentation where you live, speak to your local AFF Co-ordinator – www.aff.org.uk – or your unit welfare officer.

Your questions answered
Do we have to apply for ILR once in the UK if we have ILE?
No. The guidance states that “ILE carries the same entitlement as Indefinite Leave to Remain”. The confusion arises because the visa still has an expiry date, which is a requirement for visas issued overseas, but you can ignore this.
Do I have to transfer the ILE to my new passport?
No. You can carry both your old and new passports when travelling to or from the UK instead. If you don’t wish to do this or if you’re having problems with employers who do not understand the rules, you can apply for a Biometric Residence Permit costing £104, which will replace your visa. Go to www.gov.uk/transfer-visa
What is the minimum income requirement?
£18,600 if you don’t have any children, £22,400 if you have one child and an extra £2,400 for each additional child. It still applies if your soldier is a British citizen.
Can we meet the requirement in other ways?
Yes, you can include savings and income from property or investments, but you need to have more than £16,000 in savings.
What about Foreign and Commonwealth soldiers who are single parents?
f you have sole responsibility for your child you don’t need to meet the minimum income requirement to bring them to the UK.
What can you do if you don’t meet the requirement?
Send your details to the F&C team. We’re working with an immigration solicitor about the possibility of raising a legal challenge to these rules. Contact us via the F&C pages on the AFF website or email fcassist@aff.org.uk

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