18 April, 2009




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Immigration



General
If you have joined the Royal Navy from outside the United Kingdom you are exempt from immigration control under section 8(4) of the Immigration Act 1971, and are able to claim benefits1. The exemption does not extend to wives or families who are granted 'leave to remain' exceptionally outside the immigration rules without recourse to Public Funds. This prevents your family from claiming any public funds, including Child Benefit and Tax Credits, which should be claimed by you as the Serving person, however it does allow members of your family to take up employment in the UK. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the issuing of spouse's passports and visas prior to your planned relocation to the UK and occupying of your Service Family A. Families often arrive in the UK with visas that only allow them to remain in this country for a 6-month period.

The Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) deal with applications for an extension of stay. They will provide details of how to apply. They can be contacted at:

The Immigration & Nationality Directorate
ICU5
Lunar House
40 Wellesley Road
Croydon
CR9 2BY

Phone Icon Phone: 0870 241 0655 (for an application form) or 0870 606 7766 (general enquiries)

You can download application forms from the following Home Office website.

website Web site: Home Office - Immigration & Nationality Directorate


There maybe local variances as each Social Services & Benefits Office will judge each case on its merit.

New Naturalisation policy for Commonwealth Service Personnel

KEY POINTS:

The Home Secretary has announced a new naturalisation policy to enable eligible Commonwealth citizens serving in the Regular Armed Forces to count their Armed Forces service, at home and abroad, towards qualification for UK citizenship.
This is in recognition of the valuable contribution Commonwealth citizens make to the British Armed Forces.

DETAIL:

1. On 22 November 2006, the Home Secretary John Reid announced a change in the way that the Home Office apply the discretion under the British Nationality Act 1981 to treat absence from the UK as residence in the UK.

2. This change enables eligible Commonwealth citizens serving in the Regular component of the Armed Forces to count periods of military service (at home and abroad) towards the residency criteria for an application for British citizenship while in Service. Since October 2004, Commonwealth citizens serving in the UK Armed Forces were normally unable to count their time spent in the Armed Forces towards the residency criteria for UK naturalisation until after they had been discharged. The MOD and the Home Office are reviewing the requirements for dependants to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain. Results will be communicated at a later date.

3. Clearly any decision to seek UK citizenship is a personal one and individuals will need to consider carefully, and if necessary seek private legal advice or official advice from the appropriate authorities in their country of origin about the impact of acquiring British nationality on the nationality laws of their current citizenship.

4. Applications will need to be made in person and accompanied by the appropriate fee, having met all the Home Office criteria for UK citizenship, which includes passing a UK citizenship test. Details of the Home Office guides, Nationality Directorate enquiries telephone help line and application forms are published on the Home Office website where individuals should be directed to for further information. Individuals, having considered the Home Office advice, should seek further guidance from either the Nationality Directorate telephone help line, a British Embassy or Consulate if abroad, or a qualified Immigration and Nationality Advisor, details of which can be found in the Q&A material.

5. Dual Nationality. It is re-emphasised that individuals who are considering applying for naturalisation as a British citizen should carefully consider the implications and where appropriate seek advice on dual nationality matters from either their High Commission or consulate and, as necessary, legal and or financial advice from experts in their country of origin, or from a qualified Immigration and Nationality Advisor. It is understood, for example, that some nations do not recognise dual citizenship, and acquiring UK citizenship may impact upon the individual's right to remain a citizen of their country of origin. Individuals will also need to consider any impact on their current Terms and Conditions of Service.

6. Gurkhas. This new policy will not apply to serving members of the Brigade of Gurkhas (BG) or their accompanying families. They will continue to be treated in accordance with our long-standing agreement with the Government of Nepal. They will remain Nepalese citizens until they leave the Brigade, after which they will be able to count their military service towards the residential qualification for naturalisation in the same way as other members of the Armed Forces.

7. South African Citizens. Whilst eligible serving South African (SA) citizens may also seek UK citizenship this Home Office announcement is not related to the Bill currently being considered by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa entitled the 'Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Regulation of Certain Activities in Country of Armed Conflict Bill 2006'. UK MOD officials are continuing to address this separate matter urgently and the final outcome, when known, together with advice to SA citizens and permanent residents of SA serving in UK Armed Forces, will be distributed in a separate letter to the Chain of Command


airplane in sky

Flights To Fiji - Visa Information
It has become apparent that Fijian sailors have in the past experienced difficulties when returning home to Fiji on leave. Having booked flights using telesales agents, they discovered only at the last minute that by routing through the USA they needed a visa.

Under a bilateral agreement with the USA, UK citizens travelling with a recognised airline and possessing a valid return ticket enjoy an exemption from visa entry requirements. This however is not the case for Fijian sailors, even though they are serving members of the British Forces. However, you may be entitled to Transit Without a Visa (TWOV) as the rules differ. Eligibility depends on transiting through one of the 43 designated US airports, and on whether the airline has an agreement with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. The key message is to research visa and other entry requirements with your travel agent when you make your booking, if transiting via the USA.

The cost of a visa (£67) may offset any savings on flight tickets if you choose the wrong airline or US airport.

The alternative route to Fiji via Australia does not require a transit visa for periods of eight hours or under, provided there is an onward flight booked in a third country within this period. However, obtaining a free transit (covering periods of up to 72 hours) is still highly recommended, as the aircraft may be delayed or you could become ill and need treatment in Australia.

Remember, if you do need a visa, it may take some time to process your application. Points of contact can be found on pages 17 & 18 of this booklet.



National Insurance
National Insurance is a payment that allows you to qualify for certain types of social services benefits*. The amount of National Insurance you pay will relate to your income and the type of benefits that you receive. All employees over the age of 16 and under retirement age with earnings above a set lower limit must make National Insurance contributions.

Ratings will make their application for a National Insurance Number whilst completing initial training at HMS Raleigh. Spouses should contact their local Benefits Office where they will be offered an appointment for a short interview. Spouses applying for National Insurance Numbers must be able to show evidence they are actively working or seeking work. Such evidence can include: - Pay slip, letter from prospective employer, application forms for employment position. If you have any difficulties or questions contact your NPFS office for advice/assistance.



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