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Commonwealth Recruitment

Volume 609: debated on Thursday 12 May 2016

There is a long tradition of Commonwealth citizens serving in the British armed forces, and we continue to value their service which provides an important contribution in defending the UK at home and abroad.

The current Commonwealth recruitment rules which require five years’ UK residency have therefore been reviewed, and the residency requirements will be waived to allow for 200 Commonwealth citizens per annum to be recruited to fill a limited number of roles in the regular armed forces which require specialist skills. The numbers of individuals that can be recruited and the list of roles that can be filled under these arrangements have been agreed in consultation with the Home Office. These will be subject to regular review.

The requirement for individuals to have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) to join the reserves has not been changed. However, if an individual with specialist skills already residing in the UK is identified, applications for exceptional circumstances can be cleared on an individual basis with the Home Office.

This will not affect personnel from the Republic of Ireland, Malta, the Republic of Cyprus, or those in the Brigade of Gurkhas. This will also not affect Gurkha or Commonwealth serving personnel with more than four years’ regular service applying to join the reserves provided they are granted ILR on discharge.

This policy will be kept under review.