Personnel from overseas who are serving in the Regular Army are exempt from immigration control during the course of their service. Personnel from overseas serving in the Army Reserve are not exempt from immigration control.
Families who are not nationals of countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) are subject to immigration control and need to ensure that they have the appropriate immigration status.
Accompanying family member
To enter the UK, the family need to be able to meet the minimum income requirement set by the UK Home Office (as well as at least A1 standard in English language). The gross annual income required is as follows:
Partner with no children – £18,600
1 child in addition to the partner – £22,400
2 children in addition to the partner – £24,800
3 children in addition to the partner – £27,200
A partner must be either a spouse or civil partner, or a fiance(e) or proposed civil partner. Entitled service family members who are subject to immigration control, including where the Service Person is a UK national, must enter the UK under Immigration Rules Appendix Armed Forces on Form VAF AF if they wish to establish a family life. This will allow a spouse/civil partner the opportunity to work in the UK and to claim some State benefits, which depend on meeting the relevant rules. Families entering on a Visitor Visa will not be entitled to Service Family Accommodation, and they will need to return to their country of origin on expiry of the visa.
Entering under Immigration Rules Appendix Armed Forces allows the family to progress towards settling in the UK through being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Enter. Settlement is a step towards applying for British Citizenship, if the family wishes.
The cost of visas, applying for citizenship, or returning home at the end of the Service Person’s career can be considerable. Service Personnel are able to access savings plans that are specifically for the Service community.
If you have any questions or concerns over immigration or visa issues you can consult the Army Families Federation (AFF) website. AFF have trained immigration advisers who deal with issues affecting Service families.