Commonwealth Recruitment into the Armed Forces

Ministry of Defence written statement – made on 5th November 2018.

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Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Citizens from the Commonwealth have a long tradition of serving with distinction in the Armed Forces. In light of changes to the size of our Armed Forces a five-year UK residency criterion for Commonwealth citizens wishing to join the Armed Forces was re-imposed in 2013. A limited waiver to this requirement was introduced in May 2016 to recruit up to 200 Commonwealth personnel per annum to fill skill shortage posts. We have now decided to remove the five-year UK residency criterion for Commonwealth citizens and increase recruitment to 1,350 across the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force. Applications will be accepted from all Commonwealth countries, although in order to mitigate the risks associated with unaccompanied minors travelling to the UK without the guarantee of a job, we will not be accepting applications from those under 18. Applicants from Commonwealth countries will need to meet all necessary recruitment criteria for the Service and role they wish to join. Security standards, which will be assessed on a case by case basis, and may differ from the current UK security requirements. In 2009[1] a 15 percent limit on foreign and Commonwealth nationals in a number of areas of the Army (the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC), the Royal Army Dental Corps (RADC) and the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC)) was established as a necessary and proportionate requirement to sustain operational effectiveness. As we now intend to increase the numbers of Commonwealth citizens joining across the full spread of Army roles, we have concluded that it is appropriate to both limit the overall numbers recruited, and to replicate the 15 per cent limit across all Cap Badges. The requirement for individuals to have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) to join the Reserves has not been changed. This will not affect personnel from the Republic of Ireland, or those in the Brigade of Gurkhas. This policy will be kept under review.

[1] Written Ministerial Statement “Army Nationality Policy” dated 2 February 2009