Over the last two years, there has been a campaign by the Royal British Legion to waive visa fees for Commonwealth soldiers and their families. This is a campaign that I have supported, along with a cross-party group of MPs.
We do not believe that foreign citizens who served in our military and want to remain in the UK should have to pay £2,389 in visa fees for the right to stay in the country that they have risked their lives for. This is also £2,389 per person, so, for a family of four, this would mean close to £10,000 in visa fees.
An amendment to remove these fees for those with five years’ service was introduced to the Nationality and Borders Bill and was debated on 7 December. However, despite having cross-party support, including 15 Conservative rebels, the amendment was defeated by Government MPs. The Conservative Party was the only party to oppose the amendment.
This is deeply disappointing, especially given the Government’s supposed commitment to support our armed forces.
I can assure you that I will continue to support this campaign to waive visa fees for foreign citizens in our army and their families.