Immigration options for discharged HM Forces personnel
The Immigration Rules provide for the possibility of those who have been discharged from the armed forces to make applications for leave to remain in the UK on temporary and permanent bases.
The requirements are set out within Appendix Armed Forces to the Immigration Rules (the ‘Appendix’) and cover individuals who have left the armed forces permanently and those who have been discharged from service on medical grounds.
All applicants will need to meet the suitability requirements set out within paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Appendix. For example, those who are the subject of a deportation order or have relevant criminal convictions are unlikely to satisfy the suitability requirements.
General eligibility requirements
All applications will need to meet the general eligibility requirements set out within paragraph 11 of the Appendix. The requirements are that:
- The applicant has completed at least four years’ reckonable service in HM Forces (that is, service which counts towards pension); or
- The applicant has been discharged on medical grounds and meets the medical discharge criteria within the Appendix;
It must also be demonstrated that on the date on which the application is made:
- The applicant must have been discharged from service within two years; or
- If the applicant was discharged on medical grounds more than two years ago, new information regarding their condition is under consideration by the Secretary of State; or
- The applicant has most recently been granted leave to remain by the Home Office as a person discharged from HM Forces either under the Immigration Rules or in accordance with the Home Office’s policy; or
- If the application is made by a Gurkha, they must be a citizen or national of Nepal.
Where the application is made on the basis that the applicant has been discharged from service on medical grounds the following additional criteria must be met:
- The illness or injury must be attributable to service in HM Forces;
- The illness or injury came about due to deployment in an operational theatre (where military action takes place);
- If the illness or injury did not come about in a place where military action takes place, it must be appropriate to grant leave following a careful consideration of the following factors:
- The seriousness of the injury or illness;
- The need for further medical treatment and the availability of medical treatment in the applicant’s country of origin;
- The prognosis for recovery, including whether the illness or injury will have an effect on the applicant’s ability to support themselves in their country or origin;
- The length of reckonable service completed at the date of discharge.
Applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK can be made from within or outside the UK. If applying within the UK the applicant must not, at the date of application, be in breach of immigration laws (although a period of overstaying of 28 days or less will be disregarded).
If successful, applicants will be granted indefinite leave to remain (or indefinite leave to enter if applying from overseas). However, where the applicant has been convicted of, or admitted an offence, for which they received a non-custodial sentence, for example a fine, caution, etc., within 24 months of the date which the application is decided, the applicant will be granted limited leave to remain for a period of 30 months rather than indefinite leave to remain.
If you have been discharged from HM Forces and would like to consider the options open to you to apply for leave to enter or remain in the UK then please contact our armed forces immigration barristers in Covent Garden, London, on 0203 617 9173 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.