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British Nationality: Gurkhas

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the three routes to citizenship and three stages in the journey outlined in The Path to Citizenship, will apply to Gurkha soldiers who completed their service (a) before and (b) after 1 July 1997. (195404)

[holding answer 19 March 2008]: The objective behind the proposals outlined by the Green Paper is to create a new clear framework for the journey to citizenship and clarify the routes to British citizenship/permanent residence via probationary citizenship.

The consultation period ended on 14 May and we published the Government’s response document on 14 July.

We are continuing to assess how existing routes to settlement may fall within these proposals. As part of this work we will be considering in what way the new requirements might apply to all those non-EEA nationals who have obtained indefinite leave following their discharge from the armed forces.

We are also continuing in our discussions with the Ministry of Defence on various matters affecting the position of the armed forces with regard to immigration and citizenship issues. Although these considerations are ongoing there is no intention at this time to confer additional routes to citizenship for Gurkha soldiers discharged prior to 1 July 1997. The lawfulness of the immigration rules as they apply to Gurkha soldiers discharged prior to 1 July 1997 is subject to judicial review in September 2008 and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.

I am however pleased to have been able to agree to a number of important measures as part of the wider package of commitments across government to better support serving personnel, their families and veterans. Details of these can be found in the MOD Command Paper “The Nation’s Commitment: Cross-Government Support to our Armed Forces, their Families and Veterans” (Cm 7424).