Armed Forces: Foreign Nationals

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 24th September 2020.

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Photo of Lord Touhig Lord Touhig Shadow Spokesperson (Defence)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to resume the recruitment to the Armed Forces of personnel born in Commonwealth countries.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Recruitment of Commonwealth citizens has never stopped. Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, both the Army and the Royal Air Force (RAF) had received large numbers of applications from Commonwealth citizens. The Army therefore stopped accepting new applications in September 2019 and the RAF stopped accepting applications from outside the UK in November 2019. The Royal Navy (RN)/Royal Marines (RM) has continued to accept new applications.

When the COVID-19 restrictions were implemented in March 2020, the RN/RM and RAF continued with the selection and initial training of all applicants who were already in the UK, including those from the Commonwealth. For those applicants based outside the UK, they continued to be proactively managed virtually, but their applications and the recruitment process could not be completed until candidates were once again able to fly to the UK and could meet any COVID-19 restrictions placed on their entry, such as quarantine measures.

The Army temporarily paused all face-to-face selection until June and all Basic Training until May, but applicants continued to be managed and nurtured. Since selection and training has resumed, the Army has continued to process those applicants already in the UK, and those who had applied prior to September 2019. The Army continues to have enough applications from Commonwealth citizens to meet demand for the current Recruiting Year, and will not therefore be accepting new applications, other than for the Royal Corps of Music.

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