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Commonwealth Veterans

Defence – in the House of Commons on 21st October 2019.

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Photo of Danielle Rowley Danielle Rowley Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) Climate Justice and Green Jobs

What recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on the minimum income requirements for Commonwealth personnel and veterans to bring family members to the UK.

Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

What recent discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on the minimum income requirements for Commonwealth personnel and veterans to bring family members to the UK.

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

All service personnel with non-EU citizen dependants are subject to the minimum income requirement when applying for visas to enter the UK. I recently met my hon. Friend Seema Kennedy, the Immigration Minister at the Home Office, to discuss the minimum income requirement for visa fees. This is now being taken forward by officials from both Departments, and I am very hopeful of a good outcome.

Photo of Danielle Rowley Danielle Rowley Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) Climate Justice and Green Jobs

Penicuik in Midlothian is home to the Royal Highland Fusiliers at Glencorse barracks, and the battalion has had a number of serving Commonwealth soldiers, particularly from Fiji. Commonwealth citizens have made significant contributions to the defence of the UK throughout history, and continue to do so. I appreciate the warm words from the Minister and that he has had conversations, but is it not time that we repay their sacrifice by scrapping the minimum income requirement so they can be reunited with their families?

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

I pay tribute to those from Commonwealth countries for their sacrifice and service over the years, which is exactly why we are looking to recruit more people from those parts of the world. I am in conversations with the Home Office to try and work out ways to get over the minimum income requirement, and a lot of options are being looked at—such as whether we work can with credit unions or advertise on payslips—but I am more than happy to meet with the hon. Lady.

Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration)

Much like ordinary civilians, Commonwealth soldiers are being unfairly treated by the Government under their hostile environment policies. Is the Minister aware of the significant difficulties that Commonwealth personnel have encountered in bringing their families to the UK, and will he engage with me to address these issues?

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

I will be delighted to engage with the hon. Gentleman, and I would reiterate my point about the sacrifice and the service of so many of our Commonwealth soldiers, who have contributed so much to the armed forces in this country and who make them such a diverse and incredible set of armed forces that do such a good job on our behalf.