Will my plan to live abroad refuse my army application?

Hi all,

First off, apologies if this question has been asked previously, however if it has I can't find it and searched for hours now looking for an answer to my concern. So I've now come here to see if any of you can help.

The issue I have is this:
I am dead set on joining the army intelligence corps in the role of Operator Technical Intelligence. This is a role I've wanted to join for a couple of years now and I'm incredibly excited to do so. However, I'm currently studying at university (final year) and immediately after graduation, but before I apply to the army, I plan to work and study abroad for a total of 3 years. I already have a job offer to work in Beijing for a year, and intend to do a further 2yr MA in Beijing afterwards.
I was happy and excited as I had the next decade all planned out, however it suddenly dwelled on me that such a long period of time living outside the UK may impact whether or not I get accepted into the army, especially since its a non-commonwealth and non-western country I plan to live. I've checked on the army recruitment and government websites, and the only policy about living abroad regards non-UK citizens. To clarify, I am a British citizen and lived in the UK for all the 20 years of my life, and I satisfy the requirements shown on the recruitment website.

I know a security clearance is necessary and all I want to know is if my intentions to live abroad will impact my intentions to join the army? If so, how long would I have to live in the UK after Beijing to be accepted into the role. Months? Years?
Maybe I'm just overthinking it and getting worried for no reason, but I was wanting to ask people who know more about this to help me, whilst I still have time to change my plans for the next few years.

Oh and also, I do intend to speak to a recruiter, but I have no reception where I live so can't call them currently.

Thank you in advance for any help anyone can give.


War Hero
To try and answer your question:
  • I'm sure that, in your heart of hearts, you know that long periods abroad in unfriendly countries are a liability with any such application. You could try and get guidance from the relevant authorities but, if you decide to take the risk, you should ensure that your time abroad is as well-documented as possible (references, police checks, bank statements, reasons for being abroad, etc.). Accumulate all the paperwork you can.
  • A friend of mine applied for the Intelligence Linguist role (OPTI, now) some years ago. He had dual citizenship (of a white Commonwealth country) and he was told he'd have to surrender his dual citizenship. In the end, they waived this because of the need for linguists, so there can be some flexibility, it seems.
  • If you can get some proficiency in Mandarin, that might be something in your favour.
  • If you speak to a recruiter, try and get something in writing that you can go back to.
  • If you're going out there to teach, one of the Anglosphere countries (e.g. English First) might look better than some other potential choices.
Edited for early-morning illteracy.
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still staggin

War Hero
Can't see a problem with wanting to live and work in china then joining the int corps, go for it;
See how far you get.
I looked into this for the RAF some time ago - Army might be different but this is how I understand it works.

in order to get a security check with the RAF you need to have resided in the UK for 3 years immediately prior to application, and within each of those three years you can only have been outside the UK for a total of 28 days per year. I think I also looked at the army and they were a bit more generous at six months being the number.

There is some mention of being flexible for students who have been on gap years etc, but 3 years sounds a bit long.

Also, being an int role you might need developed vetting which I think then means it becomes a 10 year period, and probably tougher as to how long you have been out of the country. If you dig through the recruiting material on line I think you can find most of this.