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Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the cost of the public purse has been of the Gurkha Settlement Office in Kathmandu since its inception; (321262)

(2) how many applications for settlement initially refused by the Gurkha Settlement Office have been accepted following re-submission through the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation.

The Gurkha Settlement Office was opened in October 2009, using existing accommodation and facilities within the British Gurkhas Kathmandu base. It is staffed by four locally employed civilians. The cost of setting up and staffing the office to date is £20,000.

The Gurkha Settlement Office was not set up to process visa application forms. It offers ex-Gurkhas and their dependants, free of charge, information about life in the UK, so that they can reach an informed decision about whether they want to apply for settlement in this country. If they decide that they do wish to apply, then the Gurkha Settlement Office provides support by helping with the completion of visa application forms and through liaison with the Gurkha Records Office to supply some of the documentation needed to support a visa application. The Gurkha Settlement Office has received nearly 4,000 visits and around 2,000 ex-Gurkhas and/or their dependants have registered on the settlement office database for help with their visa application. Visa applications are processed by the UK Border Agency, in their regional centre in New Delhi. Under the new immigration rules over 6,600 visa applications have been received from ex-Gurkhas and their dependants and over 3,650 visas have been authorised or issued. It is not known how many of these applicants may have sought help from the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation (GAESO) when preparing their application forms.