Mon-Fri 9am-6pm
    020 7237 3388
    (UK Local Number, 1p per min)
    ICS Legal, Suite 11, City Business Centre,
    Lower Road, London SE16 2XB

HM Armed Forces Family Member - settlement or leave to remain

UK HM Armed Forces | Exempt from Immigration Control | ICS Legal

The HM Armed Forces visa category under Appendix Armed Forces of the Immigration Rules HC395, allows a visa national & their dependants to reside in the UK. The Armed Forces Act 2006 provides a definition of someone who is a member of the HM Armed Forces:

  1. Royal Navy.

  2. Royal Marines.

  3. British Army.

  4. Brigade of Gurkhas.

  5. Royal Air Force.

Since 11th July 2013, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) requires Commonwealth nationals to demonstrate that they have been resident in the UK for at least5 years or those seeking to join the reserves, must hold indefinite leave to remain.

Exemption from Immigration Control

Where a person is admitted to the UK as “exempt from immigration control”, they will remain exempt in line with section 8(4) of the Immigration Act 1971 as long as they fall within the provisions.

Where a person holds leave to enter/remain in another immigration capacity, they will need to seek permission through an application to be enlisted with the HM Armed Forces. If a person completes the selection process and is considered for enlisting in the HM Armed Forces, then can make an immigration application to be granted exemption from the Immigration Act 1971.

Once a person completes their service and are discharged, they will cease to be exempt from the Immigration Act 1971. You can then make an application for indefinite remain once a period of services have been completed subject to criminality checks. The immigration rules at the time of discharge will apply and you are strongly advised to take legal advice prior making an immigration application.

Civilian employees of the HM Armed Forces

You can apply under the provisions of the Immigration Rules as a civilian employee, subject to meeting the following requirements:

  1. You must be a relevant civilian employee.

  2. Be outside of the UK at the time of the application.

  3. Must leave the UK at the end of the period of employment.

  4. You must provide evidence that you have financial resources and will have adequate accommodation in the UK.

  5. Dependants can also apply for leave to enter or remain.

  6. Meet the suitability of leave to enter/remain grounds.

All the specified evidences will need to be provided at the date of the visa application. Failure to provide the documents to support your application, may lead to a visa refusal.

NATO & US Forces

Visiting Forces Act 1952 which sets out that those who are employed by the US Forces, are entitled to certain economic and other privileges if they are recognised by the Secretary of State as a ‘civilian component’.

When referring to a “civilian component” status, this is being recognised whereby a person holds leave to enter or remain with a visa expiry date on the conditions that they are allowed to take employment.

A person will be required to meet the following published requirements and must provide specified evidences to support their application for leave to enter or remain:

  1. You have been granted a civilian component status by the US authority.

  2. Have started the employment within 12 months of entering the UK.

  3. Does not hold any other forms of settled status.

HM Armed Forces Dependants

Appendix Armed Forces of the Immigration Rules HC395 sets out the policy where a dependant can enter the UK with a view to settle. A sponsor to this application would be the army personnel listed under the HM Armed Forces or have been discharged.

Here is a list of dependants who can join their partner in the UK, and is serving with the HM Armed Forces:

  • the spouse;

  • civil partner;

  • fiancé(e);

  • proposed civil partner

  • un-married partners;

  • children under the age of 18 years and dependent children over 18 years of age.

All dependants will need to meet the suitability of leave to enter or remain at the time of their application. In a partner based application, both the sponsor and the applicant must demonstrate that they are in a genuine and subsisting relationship. Evidences related to the relationship as well as their intention to live together permanently in the UK must also be satisfied. The sponsor must demonstrate that there will be adequate accommodation and maintenance available to his/her partner, meeting the financial test at the time of the application.

Moving to a child’s application, the applicant must be under the age of 18 at the date of application unless they hold a dependant visa already, are part of the same household, must not be living an independent life, have not formed their own independent family unit and are financially dependent on the sponsor. Adequate accommodation threshold is also required to be met.

The sponsor will be required to meet the financial test unless the family members are part of the transitional arrangements.

International Armed Forces Dependants

The immigration policy extends to international based armed forces that are not part of the UK HM Armed Forces, to permit their dependants to reside in the UK during their listing in the UK.

A personnel who is part of the international armed forces, can also apply for exemption under the Immigration Act 1971.

On 28th of November 2015, the Home Office introduced a specific policy law for eligible dependants of US Military personnel. They are usually exempt from immigration control by virtue of the Immigration (Exemption from Control) Order 1972 (as amended by the Immigration (Exemption from Control) Order 2015).

In order for the dependants to reside in the UK, the sponsor to the dependant’s application must be serving in the US military & only their partners/children under the age of 21 are permitted to enter or remain in the UK. The dependants will need to meet the suitability of leave enter requirements of Appendix Armed Forces. The sponsor will need to meet financial test as well as having adequate accommodation.

What is the process for applying for the visas under HM Armed Forces?

The visa application is applied online and can only be applied from outside of the UK. However under exceptional circumstances, an application can still be lodged however you must take legal advice prior making an application. 

How long does the visa process under the HM Armed Forces take?

The decision by UKVI on this visa usually takes around 12 weeks. It may be possible to fast track the application; however it depends on the Applicant previous immigration history.

What conditions are placed on the visa for dependants?

The visa conditions are as follows:

  1. You will not be permitted to claim public funds.

  2. You will be permitted to work full time or be self-employed.

What happens if the visa application is refused under Appendix Armed Forces?

Depending on the category you have applied under, an appeal right is usually generated. There are different policies applied depending on whether you have applied in the UK or outside of the UK.

When a decision is made by the Home Office, they will provide a letter explaining their reasons as to why they have refused your application. This will tell you whether you have a right to appeal or you have a right to request an administrative review. There are differences on what can be raised depending on the legal remedy available at the time of the refusal, and we strongly recommend that you take legal advice prior embarking on a process.

We at ICS Legal, will look at the grounds of the refusal, check whether the evidences were supplied and advise on how best to appeal against the decision. We may advise on alternative legal remedy that may be available. In all cases, we will always advise you the best way forward in resolving the legal issue in hand.


Most Visited

ICS Legal : UK Immigration Advice | UK Visas | Partners & Marriage Visas | Tier 1 Start-up, Tier 1 Innovator & Tier 1 Investor Visas | British Citizenship. ICS Legal is part of ICS Legal Immigration Specialists Ltd. The content and the source codes contained in this page and subsequent pages of www.icslegal.com are the property of ICS Legal Immigration Specialists Ltd. Company Reg Company No. 08703375. Company Registered in England & Wales. By logging into the site, you have accepted our terms and conditions and must abide accordingly. Unauthorised reproduction and copying is strictly prohibited. Selective contents of the website have been re-produced in accordance to Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI). ICS Legal Immigration Specialists Ltd holds PSI Licence and licence number is C2009002244. Parliamentary Licence number is P2009000241. 

The content on our site is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content on our site. Although we make reasonable efforts to update the information on our site, we make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content on our site is accurate, complete or up-to-date. We do not guarantee that our site, or any content on it, will always be available or be uninterrupted. Access to our site is permitted on a temporary basis. We may suspend, withdraw, discontinue or change all or any part of our site without notice. We will not be liable to you if for any reason our site is unavailable at any time or for any period. You are responsible for making all arrangements necessary for you to have access to our site. You are also responsible for ensuring that all persons who access our site through your Internet connection are aware of these terms, and that they comply with them.

Stay in touch

Subscribe to receive our latest immigration alerts