Former Conservative Minister Calls for an End to Immigration Fees for Overseas Veterans | Commonwealth Immigration

A former Conservative defense minister is trying to force ministers to waive the high immigration fees faced by Commonwealth soldiers and their families who wish to live in the UK after their military service ends.

Johnny Mercer – who was sacked from government last year – has the backing of several top Tories, including Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defense committee, and former leader Iain Duncan Smith.

“I understand that all parties in the House will vote to end the imposition of thousands of pounds on Foreign and Commonwealth Service personnel to stay in the UK after their service except the Tories “Mercer said Monday. “I will do my best to change this within the next 24 hours.”

British Army veterans from Commonwealth countries such as Fiji are eligible to stay in the UK if they serve more than five years, but often find it difficult to do so due to complex bureaucracy and fees high, which amount to £ 2,389 per person for the ex-soldier and each member of his family.

Many soldiers leave the armed forces with little of their own savings and not always when they want to. A group of eight Fijian veterans have launched legal action to try to get the fees waived, claiming they were poorly advised and bureaucratic mistakes left them illegal immigrants in the country they served .

They failed in their lawsuit, but a crowdfunding campaign raised funds and the Home Office granted them special dispensation to apply late.

Mercer’s amendment – submitted to the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, due to report stage on Tuesday and Wednesday – also won support from Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. “If you fight with us, you can live with us,” he tweeted.

If selected by President Lindsay Hoyle for debate, the amendment is also expected to be backed by Labor, where efforts are led by former paratrooper Dan Jarvis and other parties. But with Boris Johnson sitting on an active majority of 79, it would take 40 rebels to seriously threaten the government over this.

Defense ministry insiders said the government had no plans to back down on Monday evening and pointed to a consultation it had launched on the issue, which included a proposal to remove all fees for future veterans who have served at least 12 years. Mercer and Jarvis, however, want the waiver to be retrospective after five years as well.

A defense source added, “The proposed 12-year period is consistent with the length of time that staff initially sign up to serve, and takes into account the significant investment in their skills and training. “

Later Monday, MPs are also expected to vote on a Lords amendment to the separate Armed Forces Bill, which calls on civilian police almost always to take responsibility for investigating rape cases involving servicemen in the UK .

The amendment has opposition support and its supporters are hoping to attract a handful of prominent Tory rebels, even though it should be defeated due to the government majority.

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