FROM securing future employment to worrying about housing and finances, a raft of responsibilities await soldiers transitioning to civilian life.
But for F&C personnel and British troops with F&C families, the logistical load of leaving the Army carries the additional weight of having to resolve their immigration status to ensure they do not become overstayers in the UK.
AFF’s F&C team works closely with HIVEs and military units to assist soldiers and their families with their visas prior to leaving the Army.
Below is a list of facts that may help you with your soldier’s transition planning:
Your soldier can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) up to 10 weeks before their date of discharge from the Army. The family can be included on the application form if you are in the UK under the transition rules (visas issued prior to December 2013).
If your soldier applies in advance they should receive their biometric residence permit within 10 days of discharge.
ILR can be applied for up to 28 days after discharge but the sooner they apply the shorter your waiting time after leaving the Army.
Soldiers can choose to apply at a Premium Service Centre for a one day service after their discharge.
Citizenship applications can take over six months to process so your soldier must apply in good time or they could be left stranded with no passport or ability to apply for jobs, housing etc.
If their application is refused it might be too late to apply for ILR.
To apply for citizenship you need to have taken the Life in the UK test and possibly an English language test. To apply for ILR you don’t need either of these.
Your soldier must apply for citizenship before discharging.
If your soldier is already a British citizen but you have a limited leave visa, you can apply for ILR if you are under the new transition rules and your soldier has served for four years. It will depend on the type of limited leave visa you have and when it was issued. Contact the AFF F&C team to clarify.
If your soldier is medically discharging then their ability to apply for ILR would depend upon whether their injury/condition is attributable to service and other conditions such as time served and seriousness of injury.
If your soldier has a non-custodial conviction which was less than two years ago, then they can only apply for further leave to remain and have a visa for two and a half years. They will have to wait until two years after their conviction date before applying for ILR. If it was more than two years ago, they can apply for ILR. If it was more than three years ago, they can apply for citizenship.
Private Alormene (pictured left) applied for citizenship in September 2014, but withdrew the application in March 2015 because he thought that it would prevent his wife from applying for ILR.
These were the rules prior to December 2013, but thankfully it no longer matters. He realised his mistake a few weeks later and tried to cancel his request to withdraw but it was too late and he lost his money.
We contacted the Nationality Department to explain the situation and they agreed to reconsider the application. He was granted citizenship a few weeks later and is back on track to complete his transition smoothly.