The Foreign & Commonwealth team at AFF responds to approximately 3,000 enquiries every year through our email-based service.

F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston outlines a few cases where the team helped the non-UK community last year.


Malakai (main photo) contacted us in September last year. He wasn’t earning enough to bring both his wife and four-year-old son to the UK, so his wife had left their child with her mother and had come to the UK to get a job. Unfortunately, her mother was then admitted to hospital so their son had to move in with another relative.

F&C Advisor Beckie established that the couple would meet the MIR by November and worked with the soldier to ensure that all documents were completed and uploaded correctly. Beckie then forwarded a request to Regional Command to have the application expedited and the visa was granted 10 days later.

Malakai says: “We have no words but to express our utmost appreciation for your advice and assistance.”


Mandie and daughter

Mandie contacted us last year asking for help in returning to the UK with her British daughter. Mandie is a widow, her late husband Pte John Botha was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.

As a South African national on a partner visa, Mandie was entitled to remain in the UK under the armed forces bereavement rules, but she chose to return to South Africa with their daughter to be with family.

Now, 16 years later, and wanting her daughter to finish her education in the UK, Mandie was struggling to work out how she could accompany her.

Katherine was able to establish that Mandie was still eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK but she needed to provide evidence that she had been living with her husband at the time of his death.

As she was unable to provide this evidence, Katherine turned to the bereavement support team at Army HQ who checked their records and wrote a letter to confirm cohabitation. Mandie was granted ILR not long after and is now in the UK with her daughter.

She said: “Thank you for all the help, guidance and support you have given me and my family. All the work you do is highly appreciated and your professional approach to everything is just amazing.”



F&C Assistant Suli was contacted by the Royal British Legion in November last year. They were assisting a veteran in Botswana who wished to return to the UK.

Tsitsi had served for more than four years, discharging in 2007, but had not remained in the UK because she wasn’t aware that she was able to.

Suli was able to establish that she had never been properly discharged from the system so as far as the Home Office was concerned, she was still serving.

The RBL agreed to fund her application for Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) but Tsitsi had no access to the internet so couldn’t make the application.

Suli was able to complete the application on her behalf. The F&C team supplied a letter in support and a few months later Tsitsi was granted her ILE.

She has now arrived in the UK and says: “I’m still in shock and disbelief. I thank you Suli and Susan at RBL who fought for me to be here, to have this second chance. I appreciate it so much!”


Patricia and family

Patricia initially contacted us in December 2021, she had submitted an application for limited leave for her son 12 months earlier but had had no response.

After establishing his immigration history, F&C Advisor Sarah informed him that he was eligible for ILR and liaised with contacts at UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to ask that his current application was put on hold whilst an application for ILR was submitted instead.

Unfortunately, a few months later, it transpired that Patricia had completed the wrong form for her son. UKVI informed her that she would have to submit another application and pay another fee (refunds are only given once the new application has been processed).

Thankfully, after liaising again with UKVI, Sarah was able to get the caseworker to agree to use discretion to continue with the current application. ILR was eventually granted in July 2023. Patricia said: “Having AFF assist us really got things rolling. We knew there was hope because of all you were doing to help.”

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