To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with (a) the Secretary of State for the Home Department and (b) the UK Border Agency on providing information and assistance to foreign and Commonwealth military personnel and their families with regard to visa applications; and if he will make a statement.
We have been in discussion with the Home Office on a regular basis about immigration matters relating to the armed forces and their families. A joint review by both Departments has recently been completed with the aim of aligning, where appropriate, the armed forces immigration rules with the family migration rules introduced by the Home Office last year. The review has recognised the unique circumstances of service life and has taken into account the Armed Forces Covenant principle of no disadvantage through service. The outcome of the joint review will be announced by the Home Office before the summer recess.
For those armed forces personnel who wish to settle in the United Kingdom, as part of the delivery of covenant commitments, a process has recently been introduced by the Home Office which enables, where possible, settlement to be granted the day after discharge. This gives non-British personnel the right to live and work in the United Kingdom and access to public funds to which they are entitled.