Government wrongly profiting from visa applications by military veterans, Dan Jarvis warns

Dan Jarvis has questioned the fees charged by Government for visa applications by foreign-born soldiers.Dan Jarvis has questioned the fees charged by Government for visa applications by foreign-born soldiers.
Dan Jarvis has questioned the fees charged by Government for visa applications by foreign-born soldiers.
The Government is immorally profiting from visa fees charged to foreign-born military veterans who want to remain in the UK, South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis has said.

The Labour MP for Barnsley Central, who is a former British Army major, made the comments during a Westminster Hall debate as he continues a campaign with fellow veteran and Conservative MP Johnny Mercer to waive the fees for those with five years’ service.

Visas for foreigners who have served in armed forces currently cost £2,389.

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Each member of their family also has to pay the fee if they want to remain in the UK, meaning it can cost a family of four nearly £10,000.

The Government has promised to address the issue and launched a consultation on proposals to scrap fees for people who have served in the armed forces for 12 years, but not for their family members.

Mr Jarvis said they should go further than currently planned.

“This is not the way in which we can repay the extraordinary service that they’ve offered our country and I very much hope that in the very near future, the Government will take the opportunity to close what is essentially a loophole,” he said.

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“It will be relatively inexpensive to do so and morally is absolutely the right thing for us to be doing.”

He added: “I think it is simply wrong for the Government to be profiting off the backs of the service of these men and women. Indefinite leave to remain costs each person applying £2,389. However, the latest government data available shows that the estimated cost of each application is only £243. It means a soldier with a partner and two children will be asked to pay nearly £10,000 – £8,500 of which goes straight into the Treasury’s coffers.”

He said it was possible for Ministers to change the situation with a “stroke of a pen” to move away from the current situation where foreign-born veterans are being told to “pay up or pack up”.

Responding for the Government, Home Office minister Kevin Foster said the Government ran a public consultation last year on waiving settlement fees "for certain non-UK service personnel in Her Majesty’s armed forces".

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He added: "The results of the consultation have now been analysed. The Government will publish our response shortly and make any associated fee changes through fees regulations at the earliest opportunity afterwards.

"While I am not in a position to confirm the final policy offer, I hope that provides some reassurance that the Government recognise the issue, have sought views from those affected on how best to address it, and will shortly announce our plans to do so."

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