Family members of HM Forces--Statement of Intent--Changes to the Immigratio

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  1. Guidance: Family members of HM Forces--Statement of Intent--Changes to the Immigration Rules from December 2013

    Summary

    For the first time, non-European Economic Area (EEA) partners and children of Foreign and Commonwealth citizens and of British citizens serving in HM Forces will be subject to a single set of rules.

    The new rules will mean all non-EEA dependants of members of the Armed Forces between the ages of 18 and 65 will need to meet requirements on knowledge of language and life in the UK before they can settle, and their sponsor will need to meet the minimum income threshold.

    They will also align immigration rules for Armed Forces families with the wider Family Migration Policy introduced in summer 2012. These changes were not applied immediately to serving personnel and their families while the Home Office and Ministry of Defence conducted a joint review to ensure the Armed Forces would not be disadvantaged.

    The new rules

    The following rules will apply to Armed Forces families:


    • service personnel who wish to sponsor their non-EEA dependants to enter or stay in the UK must meet a minimum income threshold of £18,600 for a partner, £22,400 for a partner and child and £2,400 for each additional child
    • basic English language requirement will also apply to all non-EEA partners seeking to enter or stay in the UK
    • non-EEA partners of British and of Foreign and Commonwealth citizens serving in HM Forces will serve a five-year probationary period before being eligible to apply for settlement
    • to qualify for settlement, non-EEA partners and children between the ages of 18 and 65 will have to demonstrate a knowledge of language and life in the UK. This will involve passing the Life in the UK test and holding an intermediate level English language speaking and listening qualification
    Anomalies removed

    The new rules will also remove some anomalies and practical obstacles in the current rules:


    • where a serving Foreign and Commonwealth member of HM Forces naturalises as a British citizen, their family will be able to continue to progress to settlement; they will no longer need to switch immigration route because their sponsor's immigration status has changed
    • bereaved non-EEA partners of Foreign and Commonwealth citizens serving in HM Forces will be treated in the same way as bereaved partners of British personnel and will be able to apply for settlement immediately if the sponsor dies in service
    • faster grants of settlement will be given for service personnel on discharge
    • reservist time on deployment will count towards residency requirements in the applicant's substantive immigration status
    • an Armed Forces specific application form will facilitate identification and processing of applications from the Armed Forces community
    Transitional period

    Members of the Armed Forces and their families currently serving may still apply under these temporary arrangements until 30 November 2013, meaning they will not be subject to the new requirements.