Visas and BRPs

Contents

01   Visas to enter the UK

Five-year limited leave to enter (settlement) visa

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Relationship requirement

To be eligible for a visa to enter the UK under Armed Forces rules you must meet the following requirements:

  • Your sponsor is
    • A member of HM Forces or
    • A veteran who has British Citizenship, ILR or limited leave following discharge and who discharged less than 2 years ago
  • You are both over 18
  • Any previous relationship must have broken down
  • The marriage or civil partnership must be valid
  • You must meet the definition of a partner

What is the definition of a partner?

  1. spouse; or
  2. civil partner; or
  3. fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner*; or
  4. unmarried partner, where the couple have been in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years. Please see the information on ‘durable relationship’ below.

Coming to the UK in a durable relationship

From April 11 2024 there is no longer a requirement for couples in a durable relationship to have been living together for at least 2 years, as long as the relationship is similar to a marriage or civil partnership and has been subsisting for more than 2 years. To evidence a durable relationship where you are not currently, or have not ever lived together, you will need to provide similar evidence to that which is required to meet the subsisting relationship requirement below. Instead of evidence of cohabitation, caseworkers will want to see other evidence of an ongoing relationship such as evidence of regular communication, visits, holidays, events attended, financial support, joint care of any children the partners have together etc.

See GOV.UK – Relationship with a partner: caseworker guidance for further information. If you are not sure if you meet the durable relationship requirement you should get in touch with the team.

You must have a ‘genuine and subsisting’ relationship

If you are married or in a civil partnership then your relationship is considered to be genuine but you are still required to show that it is subsisting. There is no requirement to have been living together if this is your first application on the partner route, and caseworkers must take into account cultural/religious considerations. See a list of suggested documents to prove a subsisting relationship, and refer to the table on page 26.

*for further information about the fiancée route and about getting married in the UK, see our General FAQs page.

Minimum income requirement

From 11 April 2024 the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) for partners and children entering the UK to join you will be a flat rate of £23,496 (gross annual income). There is no longer any additional income requirement in order to sponsor children.

Serving personnel will meet this requirement after 26 weeks Service or on completion of Initial Trade Training, whichever is sooner. However you must show 6 months worth of payslips and bank statements at this level before you can bring your family to the UK. See section 3 below – supporting documents.

The HM Armed Forces income requirement now differs significantly to the income requirement for non-military sponsors wishing to bring family to the UK. The alignment of the MIR to the salary threshold on completion of training takes into account the unique nature of the service of a member of HM Armed Forces.

Exemptions from the minimum income requirement

In both of these cases below you must meet the ‘adequate maintenance’ requirement instead. Please contact the F&C team if you believe you are exempt.

  • Veterans who have discharged within the past 2 years who are bringing family members to the UK under the Armed Forces rules do not need to meet the MIR if they are in receipt of the following benefits:
    • disability living allowance; or
    • severe disablement allowance; or
    • industrial injury disablement benefit; or
    • attendance allowance; or
    • carer’s allowance; or
    • personal independence payment; or
    • adult disability payment (Scotland); or
    • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme; or
    • Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme;
    • Child Disability Payment; or
    • Adult Disability Payment
  • Members of HM forces who have sole responsibility for a child coming to the UK*

Transitional requirements

Transitional arrangements have been put in place to protect anyone who would be potentially disadvantaged by the new MIR introduced on 11 April 2024. This will be the case for anyone applying for a partner on their own where the MIR was £18,600, or a partner with one child where it was £22,400.

  • You can continue to be assessed under the MIR in place before 11 April 2024 if you had submitted an application or had already been granted leave under Appendix Armed Forces prior to 11 April 2024.
  • If you meet the above requirements and you have one child who you have yet to apply for a visa for, the MIR of £22,400 will still apply.
  • If you meet the above requirements but you have two or more children the new MIR of £23,496 will apply
  • In these cases if the MIR you had to meet was below £23,496, when you apply for settlement you will continue to be assessed under the rules in place pre-April 11 if this will benefit

English language requirement

Further information can be found at gov.uk/uk-family-visa/knowledge-of-english. If you are taking a test, you must ensure it is on the list of approved tests above.

Changes introduced on 11 April 2024 now mean that over 18’s can meet the English language requirement if they have a GCSE in English or English literature at level 4 or above. See page 14 of Assessing the English language requirement for further guidance.

Suitability requirement

If you have previously been refused a visa to the UK, have been an overstayer or have had a criminal conviction in the UK you should contact the F&C team for further guidance.

Accommodation requirement

You are expected to provide evidence of suitable accommodation for the whole family. DIO policy allows for a provisional address to be allocated in advance of a visa being granted. However, it is not necessary to have an address in order to make an application as long as the unit letter confirms that accommodation will be available on arrival. See the Visa FAQs page for further information.

TB test requirement

Applicants from some countries will also be required to take a TB test prior, as part of the application process. Further information can be found at gov.uk/tb-test-visa.

Important: You cannot enter the UK on a visit visa if you are planning to settle as you will not be able to switch onto a partner visa once in the UK. For further information, see: Can I come to the UK on a visit visa and then apply to remain here permanently as the spouse of a Service person?.

Important: You must travel to the UK within 90 days of the date you indicated on the application form as the intended date of travel. If you cannot travel within this time you will need to apply for a replacement biometric card. Refer to section 4 below for more information.

1. All first-time applicants need to apply for limited leave to enter using the online form.

2. Select Join or accompany a family member, then select A current or former member of UK Armed Forces

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3. Then follow the steps until you reach the Select a visa type page, you will then need to scroll down and select the second option from the bottom.

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You will also have to complete an ‘Appendix 2 Financial Requirements’ form which you will be given a link to after you have selected the options above. This form must be printed, completed and uploaded with the rest of the supporting documents or taken with you to the appointment if you have paid to have the documents uploaded.

If you would like guidance completing this form please get in touch with us.

Children and step-children

Make separate applications for children accompanying you who are not British. You will need to select the option for ‘Child of a current or former member of UK Armed Forces (HM forces)’.

If the child is the biological child of the soldier and the other biological parent will remain in home country, it will be necessary to provide evidence to show that the parent bringing the child to the UK has sole responsibility for that child. Please refer to Bringing children from previous relationships to the UK for more information on the process.

If the child is the soldier’s stepchild (ie the biological child of the soldier’s partner) it will also be necessary to provide some extra evidence to show that the parent bringing the child to the UK has sole responsibility for that child as above. You are also advised to contact us in these cases as unfortunately the Armed Forces rules don’t currently allow for stepchildren to come to the UK so sometimes these applications are delayed.

If the child has been adopted or is a relative you will need to contact the F&C Team for further information.

It is very important that you provide as much evidence as you can of your personal circumstances.

A.  Evidence that the financial requirement is met

If you are using your salary (and/or your partners salary) to evidence the financial requirement is met then you must provide the evidence below. If you are using alternative sources to evidence the requirement then you will need to read Family Migration: Appendix FM Section 1.7 Appendix Armed Forces Financial requirement for further guidance or email fcsupport@aff.org.uk

  1. a) Payslips covering:
  • A period of six months prior to the date of application if the person has been employed by their current employer for at least six months or
  • Any period of salaried employment in the period of 12 months prior to the date of application if the person has been employed by their current employer for less than six months and
  1. b) A letter from the employer(s) who issued the payslips confirming. Your unit will have a template letter that they can use.
  • The person’s employment and gross annual salary;
  • The length of their employment;
  • The period over which they have been or were paid the level of salary relied upon in the application; and
  • The type of employment (permanent, fixed-term contract or agency) and
  1. c) Six months of personal bank statements corresponding to the same period(s) as the payslips, showing that the salary has been paid into an account in the name of the person or in the name of the person and their partner jointly,
B.  Evidence that the English language requirement is met
C.  Evidence of your accommodation in the UK

If you have not been allocated a quarter then the unit letter above must state that an SFA has been applied for. If you are having problems evidencing your proposed or actual accommodation then get in touch with us.

D.  Evidence of marriage
  • If married or in a civil partnership, a recognised certificate is all that is required.
  • If you are coming to the UK on a fiancée visa to get married and then settle here, you will need to provide evidence that you intend to get married, evidence that you have met and that you intend to live together.
  • if you are not married but are coming to the UK as an unmarried/same sex partner, then you will need to provide evidence that you have lived together for 2 years and have had a genuine relationship akin to marriage. (The 2-year period does not have to have been completed immediately preceding the date of application if, for example, the couple are currently living apart for work reasons in order to meet the financial requirements of the rules, provided that the relationship continues to be genuine and subsisting at the date of application)
  • If you are divorced you will also need to provide the decree absolute or a certificate of an overseas divorce which is recognised in the UK. For further guidance read Family Policy: Partners, divorce and dissolution
E.  Evidence of a subsisting relationship

This is particularly important if you have been separated for a while.

  • Evidence of contact during the period of separation e.g. emails, letters, phone statements, any evidence that the sponsor has returned home to visit the applicant
  • Evidence of financial support from the sponsor, e.g. money transfer slips or bank statements showing money being transferred to cover the period of separation
  • Evidence to explain any gaps in communication/reason for delay in joining spouse in UK: if the soldier has been on operations/exercise or other training, it would be advisable to get a unit letter to confirm this
  • Statements from applicant and sponsor: if there has been a long separation, it would be advisable to include a covering letter or statement detailing your relationship in chronological order; back up any statement you make with supporting evidence. Download a template covering letter.

After you have completed the form and have paid, you will be requested to make an online appointment to attend your nearest visa application centre to have your biometrics taken and to provide certain documents:

  • Your passport.
  • Printout of the email confirming the details of your appointment.
  • Printout of your checklist.
  • Evidence that you have permission to be in the country you are applying from, if you are not a national of that country.
  • The relevant appendix you were asked to download and complete.
  • You may also need a copy of the bio data page from the passport or travel document of the person you are dependent upon and evidence of the current UK immigration status for the person you are dependent upon (if they are already in the UK).

You should check the process for submitting the rest of the supporting documents using your visa application centre website. There are usually 3 options for submitting the documents. If you cannot find the relevant information please contact us. It is very important that you follow the guidance for submitting documents carefully. After submission you will receive a receipt and checklist that will act as acknowledgement for the documents you have submitted.

  1. upload your documents yourself at home if you have access to a scanner or
  2. take the original supporting documents when you have your biometric appointment and use the Document Scanning Assistance facility for an extra fee or
  3. supporting documents can also be submitted by the sponsor in the UK either in person or by post for an additional charge

Please see AFF: How do I get a free biometrics appointment for further information on booking a free biometrics appointment.

Processing delays due to the Ukraine crisis

Due to the Ukrainian crisis, leave to enter applications are taking longer to decide. Our entry clearance contacts are working under Ministerial instruction to prioritise Ukraine cases only, unless there are exceptional circumstances. If your soldier is due to deploy shortly or you left children back in home country or you are pregnant, it may be possible to ask for the visas to be expedited. Please get in touch.

Please read the letter you receive granting your leave carefully. This letter will state the type of leave and the length of leave. If the letter does not say that you have been granted limited leave for 5 years then it would be a good idea to get in touch with us with a copy of the letter.

Successful applicants will be issued with a vignette in their passport which is valid for 90 days from the date you indicated as your intended travel date in your visa application. The vignette is proof only of your permission to enter the UK and will allow you to travel to the UK.

If you do not travel to the UK within this 90 day period, your visa will expire and you will need to apply for a replacement biometric residence permit. You can do this by selecting ‘BRP Vignette Transfer’ from the list at visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/product/uk-visit-visa. You will then need to attend the visa application centre again. You will have to pay a fee for this.

You must collect your biometric residence permit within ten days of arrival in the UK from the post office branch detailed in your decision letter. If you do not collect your BRP within ten days of arrival in the UK you may be subject to a financial penalty or cancellation of your leave.

For full information see Biometric residence permits: overseas applicant and sponsor information.

What length of leave will I get?

Please note the BRP you receive will only be issued until 31 December 2024. This does not mean that your leave expires then, the length of leave you have been granted will be on your decision letter. See GOV.UK: Report a problem with your new BRP

In most cases you should be granted limited leave for 5 years. If your decision letter does not state that you have been granted 5 years then you should get in touch with us.

If you have applied for a fiancée visa then you will be granted a visa for 6 months. You will need to apply for limited leave after you are married or have had your civil partnership. Refer to the leave to remain section.

The visas will not enable you to apply for public funds but you will be able to work (unless you are a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner).

28 days before your visa is due to expire, and as long as you are still the partner of the same member of HM Forces, you should be eligible to apply for ILR.

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02   Visas to remain in UK - limited leave under Appendix Armed Forces

Five-year limited leave to remain (settlement) visa.

You can ‘switch’ onto the Armed Forces immigration route if you are in the UK on a visa which was issued for more than 6 months. Please contact the F&C team prior to making this application. If you are in the UK on a visit visa or your visa has expired you should also contact us first.

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Relationship requirement

To be eligible for a visa to remain in the UK under Armed Forces rules you must meet the following requirements:

  • Your sponsor is
    • A member of HM Forces or
    • A veteran who has British Citizenship, ILR or limited leave following discharge and who discharged less than 2 years ago
  • You are both over 18
  • Any previous relationship must have broken down
  • The marriage or civil partnership must be valid
  • You must meet the definition of a partner

What is the definition of a partner?

  1. spouse; or
  2. civil partner; or
  3. fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner*; or
  4. unmarried partner, where the couple have been in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years. Please see the information on ‘durable relationship’ below.

Proving a durable relationship in the UK

To evidence a durable relationship you will need to provide similar evidence to that which is required to meet the subsisting relationship requirement below. Whilst there is discretion from the requirement to be living together the guidance states: ‘where the couple have entered into their relationship in the UK they will normally be expected to have cohabited unless there is a good reason they live apart’. Instead of evidence of cohabitation, caseworkers will want to see other evidence of an ongoing relationship such as evidence of regular communication, visits, holidays, events attended, financial support, joint care of any children the partners have together etc. See GOV.UK – Relationship with a partner: caseworker guidance for further information.

If you are not currently living together you are advised to speak the F&C team before making an application.

You must have a ‘genuine and subsisting’ relationship

If you are married or in a civil partnership then your relationship is considered to be genuine but you are still required to show that it is subsisting. There is no requirement to have been living together if this is your first application on the partner route, and caseworkers must take into account cultural/religious considerations. See a list of suggested documents to prove a subsisting relationship, and refer to the table on page 26.

*for further information about the fiancée route and about getting married in the UK, see our General FAQs page.

Minimum income requirement

From 11 April 2024 the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) for partners and children entering the UK to join you will be a flat rate of £23,496 (gross annual income). There is no longer any additional income requirement in order to sponsor children.

Serving personnel will meet this requirement after 26 weeks Service or on completion of Initial Trade Training, whichever is sooner. However you must show 6 months worth of payslips and bank statements at this level before you can bring your family to the UK. See section 3 below – supporting documents.

The HM Armed Forces income requirement now differs significantly to the income requirement for non-military sponsors wishing to bring family to the UK. The alignment of the MIR to the salary threshold on completion of training takes into account the unique nature of the service of a member of HM Armed Forces.

Exemptions from the minimum income requirement

In both of these cases below you must meet the ‘adequate maintenance’ requirement instead. Please contact the F&C team if you believe you are exempt.

  • Veterans who have discharged within the past 2 years who are bringing family members to the UK under the Armed Forces rules do not need to meet the MIR if they are in receipt of the following benefits:
    • disability living allowance; or
    • severe disablement allowance; or
    • industrial injury disablement benefit; or
    • attendance allowance; or
    • carer’s allowance; or
    • personal independence payment; or
    • adult disability payment (Scotland); or
    • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme; or
    • Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme;
    • Child Disability Payment; or
    • Adult Disability Payment
  • Members of HM forces who have sole responsibility for a child coming to the UK*

Transitional requirements

Transitional arrangements have been put in place to protect anyone who would be potentially disadvantaged by the new MIR introduced on 11 April 2024. This will be the case for anyone applying for a partner on their own where the MIR was £18,600, or a partner with one child where it was £22,400.

  • You can continue to be assessed under the MIR in place before 11 April 2024 if you had submitted an application or had already been granted leave under Appendix Armed Forces prior to 11 April 2024.
  • If you meet the above requirements and you have one child who you have yet to apply for a visa for, the MIR of £22,400 will still apply.
  • If you meet the above requirements but you have two or more children the new MIR of £23,496 will apply
  • In these cases if the MIR you had to meet was below £23,496, when you apply for settlement you will continue to be assessed under the rules in place pre-April 11 if this will benefit

English language requirement

Further information can be found at gov.uk/uk-family-visa/knowledge-of-english. If you are taking a test you must ensure it is on the list of approved tests in the link above.

Changes introduced on 11 April 2024 now mean that over 18’s can meet the English language requirement if they have a GCSE in English or English literature at level 4 or above. See page 14 of Assessing the English language requirement for further guidance.

Suitability requirement

If you have previously been refused a visa to the UK, have been an overstayer or have had a criminal conviction in the UK you should contact the F&C team for further guidance.

Accommodation requirement

You are expected to provide evidence of suitable accommodation for the whole family. DIO policy allows for a provisional address to be allocated in advance of a visa being granted. However, it is not necessary to have an address in order to make an application as long as the unit letter confirms that accommodation will be available on arrival. See the Visa FAQs page for further information.

TB test requirement

Applicants from some countries will also be required to take a TB test prior, as part of the application process. Further information can be found at gov.uk/tb-test-visa.

You need to complete the online form FLR(AF) at visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/product/flr-af 

Under ‘Category of Leave’ select the relevant box under the ‘Appendix Armed Forces’ category.  Do not select the ‘transitional arrangements’ category unless we have specifically advised you to.

Apply as a partner or a child under Appendix Armed Forces

  • I am applying as the partner or child of a foreign or Commonwealth serving or discharged member of HM Forces
  • I am applying as the partner or child of a serving British citizen or discharged member of HM Forces

Complete the rest of the form as instructed.

Once you have paid for and submitted your application you will be given a checklist of the supporting documents. These will include:

  • Evidence that the financial requirement is met:

(a) Payslips covering:

  • A period of six months prior to the date of application if the person has been employed by their current employer for at least six months or
  • Any period of salaried employment in the period of 12 months prior to the date of application if the person has been employed by their current employer for less than six months and

(b) A letter from the employer(s)* who issued the payslips confirming:

  • The person’s employment and gross annual salary;
  • The length of their employment;
  • The period over which they have been or were paid the level of salary relied upon in the application; and
  • The type of employment (permanent, fixed-term contract or agency) and

*  download a template letter for units

(c) Personal bank statements corresponding to the same period(s) as the payslips, showing that the salary has been paid into an account in the name of the person or in the name of the person and their partner jointly

  • Evidence of accommodation – you should have a copy of your license to occupy SFA
  • English language certificate if required to have one www.gov.uk/uk-family-visa/knowledge-of-english
  • Marriage certificate or a civil partnership certificate
  • Evidence of divorce if previously married
  • Evidence of the soldiers immigration status in the UK
  • Evidence that the relationship is genuine and subsisting such as evidence of cohabitation in the form of official letters addressed to you both
  • Birth certificates of any children applying

After paying for the application you will be directed to UKVCAS to make an appointment to have your biometrics taken. You will have the choice to scan and upload your documents prior to the appointment or you can take them with you and have them scanned on the day of the appointment, but this will cost more. Further information about the biometric appointment process can be found at ukvcas.co.uk/home-internal.

Please see AFF: How do I get a free biometrics appointment for further information on booking a free biometrics appointment.

Whichever is the shortest period of:

  • Five years – The Home Office Decision Letter should state a grant of leave for 5 years, (if the letter doesn’t state you have been granted leave for 5 years then please get in touch with us). The BRP you receive will not be granted for 5 years it will only be granted until 31 Dec 2024. (See gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/report-problem for an explanation)
  • The remaining duration of the sponsors enlistment (unless the soldier is British in which case you should be granted the full 5 years) or
  • The remaining duration of limited leave of the soldier, if the soldier was not eligible for ILR on discharge.

The permit will not enable you to apply for public funds but you will be able to work.

In most cases 28 days before your permit is due to expire, and as long as you are still the partner of the same member of HM Forces and meet all the requirements, you will be eligible to apply for ILR.

If you are not granted a permit for five years you should contact the F&C team for further information.

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03   Visas to remain in UK – indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

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  • You are in the UK
  • The soldier
    • has an exempt stamp and has completed five years’ service or
    • Is a British Citizen or
    • Has ILR following discharge
  • Your relationship is still subsisting
  • You have completed a continuous period of 60 months with leave as the partner of the same member of HM Forces (issued on or after 1st December 2013). Please note, you do not need to have spent the whole 5 years in the UK in order to qualify for ILR,  you just have to have had the visa for 5 years. If your visa was not issued for 5 years please get in touch with us.
  • You have a current valid visa (please get in touch with us if you are an overstayer)
  • You meet the suitability requirements (this mainly relates to any criminal convictions you have had)
  • You meet the KoLL requirement (Knowledge of English Language and Life in UK) www.gov.uk/english-language and www.gov.uk/life-in-the-uk-test
  • You meet the Minimum Income Requirement

The Armed Forces immigration rules do not have a residence requirement, therefore there is no expectation that the whole 60 months is to have been spent in the UK. Time on an accompanied overseas assignment will count. It is also possible to count time spent outside the UK for other purposes, for example, if you chose to return to your home country whilst the soldier was on deployment. There is no set allowance. The Home office guidance states as follows:

In applications for further limited leave to remain or for indefinite leave to remain in the UK as a partner, where there have been limited periods of time spent outside the UK, this must be for good reasons and the reasons must be consistent with the intention to live together permanently in the UK. Good reasons could include time spent overseas in connection with the applicant’s or their partner’s work, holidays, training or study. If the applicant, their partner or both have spent the majority of the period overseas, there may be reason to doubt that the couple intend to live together permanently in the UK. Each case must be judged on its merits, taking into account reasons for travel, length of absence and whether the applicant and partner travelled and lived together during the time spent outside the UK. These factors will need to be considered against the requirements of the rules.

As it says above, the main requirement is that you can still prove your intention to live together permanently in the UK. We recommend in these circumstances that you provide evidence to show why you went back home and evidence that you maintained contact with your soldier during this time. Please get in touch with us if you require further information.

You need to complete the online SET(AF) form.  Under ‘Category of Leave’ select the following.  Do not select ‘apply under transitional arrangements’ unless we have advised you to.

Apply as a partner or child under Appendix Armed Forces

And then select the option that applies

  • Of a British citizen member of HM Forces
  • Of a foreign or Commonwealth member of HM Forces
  • As a bereaved partner or child of a member of HM Forces
  • The partner or child of a member of HM Forces who has been discharged.

Once you have paid for and submitted your application you will be given a checklist of the supporting documents. These will include:

  • Evidence that the financial requirement is met:

(a) Payslips covering:

  • A period of six months prior to the date of application if the person has been employed by their current employer for at least six months or
  • Any period of salaried employment in the period of 12 months prior to the date of application if the person has been employed by their current employer for less than six months and

(b) A letter from the employer(s)* who issued the payslips confirming:

  • The person’s employment and gross annual salary;
  • The length of their employment;
  • The period over which they have been or were paid the level of salary relied upon in the application; and
  • The type of employment (permanent, fixed-term contract or agency) and

* download a template letter for units

(c) Personal bank statements corresponding to the same period(s) as the payslips, showing that the salary has been paid into an account in the name of the person or in the name of the person and their partner jointly

  • Evidence of accommodation – you should have a copy of your license to occupy SFA
  • Evidence that you meet the KOLL requirement
  • Marriage certificate or a civil partnership certificate
  • Evidence of divorce if previously married
  • Evidence of the soldiers immigration status in the UK
  • Evidence that the relationship is genuine and subsisting such as evidence of cohabitation in the form of official letters addressed to you both
  • Birth certificates of any children applying

After paying for the application you will be directed to another site to make an appointment to have biometrics taken. You will have the choice to scan and upload your documents prior to the appointment or you can take them with you and have them scanned on the day of the appointment, but this will cost more. Further information about the biometric appointment process can be found at ukvcas.co.uk/home-internal.

Please see AFF: How do I get a free biometrics appointment for further information on booking a free biometrics appointment.

The Home Office Decision Letter should state that you have been granted indefinite leave, however the BRP you receive will only be granted until 31 December 2024. (See gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/report-problem an explanation).

If you have lived legally in the UK for 10 years, you may be eligible to apply under the long residence category for ILR instead of having to wait to apply as the spouse under the Armed Forces rules. Further information on these applications can be found at gov.uk/long-residence. This category would apply regardless of the nationality of the soldier.

You should read the guidance carefully as any time spent in the UK without a valid visa may result in your application being refused.

Unfortunately, under current rules, it is not possible to apply in this category if you have spent time on an accompanied overseas assignment as this is not recognised as residence in the UK.

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04   Visa error corrections and IHS refunds

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Many spouses have incorrect visa/Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) endorsements (dates given) because they were assessed under civilian rules, not the Armed Forces rules, when they entered the UK.

If you have a visa that was issued outside the UK after 1 December 2013 for less than five years, then please email us at  fcsupport@aff.org.uk with the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Picture of current BRP
  • Picture of visa payment confirmation letter
  • Picture of visa decision letter
  • Confirmation of soldier’s nationality and EED (expected end date of career) at time of application

We will then review the information and advise on your next steps.

If you think your visa issued inside the UK is incorrect, please contact the F&C team for assistance at fcsupport@aff.org.uk, providing the above information as well as a picture of the previous BRP. We will then review the information and advise on your next steps.

Armed Forces families are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).  If you have paid the IHS as part of a visa to enter or further leave application whilst you are the partner or child of a serving member of the Armed Forces, please email us at fcsupport@aff.org.uk, with the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Passport Number
  • IHS Reference Number
  • Picture of current BRP
  • The ‘Post Ref’/’Our Ref” number as stated on your letter from UKVI

We will then collate this information and submit your request to our contact at UKVI to consider and process. Please be aware that this process can be lengthy, however, we will update you when we receive a response.

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05   ILE vignettes and Biometric Residence Permits (UK only)

BRPs with an expiry date of 31 December 2024

The Government is phasing out physical visa documents by the end of 2024 and holders of BRPs will be transitioned onto eVisas. It is not currently known exactly how this will happen, the guidance says ‘for customers with existing immigration status, we will provide guidance and support to help them convert to an eVisa which will give them access to the full range of online account features and services. By the end of 2024 they will be able to interact with a digital immigration system removing the need to obtain a replacement physical document’.  We will provide further guidance once we have it.

In the meantime you can check when your visa actually expires by either looking at the decision letter you received when you were issued your visa, or by using the online checking system at gov.uk/prove-right-to-work/get-a-share-code-online. You will only be able to use this service if you have a biometric permit.

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Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) is a unique immigration status usually only granted to spouses of serving personnel who are on an overseas assignment and who become eligible for indefinite leave whilst overseas. You cannot be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as you are not in the UK. However the status is exactly the same, you have indefinite leave. UKVI guidance (below) explains this grant of leave and the reason that the stamp in your passport has an expiry date. So in short, no you do not need to apply for ILR if you have ILE. However, as explained below, you may wish to consider making an application to transfer your old style immigration stamp to a BRP to better evidence your right to remain in the UK.

The following information is taken from gov.uk: ECB9.6 Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) and Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Applicants who are granted Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) at a visa issuing Post should have no time restrictions on their stay in the UK, that is, they can stay indefinitely. ILE carries the same entitlement as ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ (ILR) which is issued by the UK Border Agency to those who have already travelled to the UK. Anyone who has ILE does not have to apply for ILR when in the UK.

Although indefinite leave, by definition, will not expire, the ECO is unable to issue a visa to those who meet the criteria for ILE without putting a ‘validity date’ on the visa. In cases of ILE the ‘validity date’ on the visa should match the expiry date on the passport. When the applicant gets a new passport, they can apply to UK Border Agency for a transfer of conditions into their new passport. They do not need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

Providing you have ILE or ILR in your passport you can submit a No Time Limit Application (NTL) free of charge and get confirmation of your status on a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) until 31 December 2024.

You do not have to apply for a BRP but we are aware that a number of spouses/children have been prevented from boarding flights back to the UK with an expired ILE stamp because airlines do not understand that ILE doesn’t expire. We therefore do not recommend travelling with ILE in an expired passport. If you wish to work and your ILE or ILR is in an expired passport then you will need to apply for a BRP. 

You do not have to wait for your passport to expire, you can make this application at any stage providing you meet the requirements below.

You may apply for NTL in the following circumstances:

  • to ‘upgrade’ your non-digital proof of ILR or ILE, for example, if you have a vignette in your passport, you can exchange this for digital confirmation of your status in the form of an NTL BRP
  • if your passport containing an ILE, ILR or NTL endorsement has been lost, stolen or has expired
  • where you are settled in the UK, but do not have any documentary evidence confirming this
  • where you have legitimately changed your identity since being granted indefinite leave and want this confirmed on a BRP

To make the application please visit gov.uk: Update, replace or transfer – biometric residence permit or card – click ‘apply now’ and progress through the application with the relevant details. Please see the screenshots below for some guidance.

It is important at this step that you select the option to ‘update, replace or transfer your BRP’ (not BRC).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the application process you will get the opportunity to provide details of your current leave in your passport, please ensure you provide this information. If your passport has expired you will need to select the following option when completing the form – you will then be able to continue completing the form.

 

 

 

 

 

You will be provided a list of documents you will have to provide as part of the application.

DO NOT send the original passport to the Home Office, a photocopy will suffice. The passport will be required at the biometric appointment, but it will not be retained.

Alternatively, there is a further option of applying for citizenship if you are eligible and this is something you are interested in doing. A citizenship application costs £1,330. See our Citizenship page for further information on applying.

There are circumstances when you may have to replace your BRP, such as when your details have changed or you/your children have ILR and the BRP has expired. See gov.uk/change-circumstances-visa-brp for further information. Replacement costs are £19.

You cannot use the BRP replacement service if your visa is about to expire, you will need to apply for a new visa instead. If its granted you will automatically get a new BRP.
To make the application please visit gov.uk: Update, replace or transfer – biometric residence permit or card – click ‘apply now’ and progress through the application with the relevant details. Please see the screenshot below for some guidance.

It is important at this step that you select the option to ‘update, replace or transfer your BRP’ (not BRC).

 

 

Speak to your unit to have your exempt stamp transferred. They may need to refer to para 1.13 in the unit guide to supporting non-British nationals for information.

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06   Spouses/children in the UK without valid visas (Overstayers)

Overstayers – in all cases we ask that you contact us in advance. We will need to see copies of all previous visas and an immigration history (including any time spent on an overseas assignment).

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If you have a visa for 5 years (issued after Dec 2013) and it has now expired you will no longer be eligible to apply for ILR. This is because one of the requirements for ILR is that you have a valid visa. You will have to apply for limited leave first before you can then apply for ILR.

a. If you have British children and/or are still married to the serving soldier you will need to apply for further leave on form FLR(AF)

Please get in touch before you submit the application so we can confirm that this is the best route for you. The application will cost £1,048 per applicant.

You will most likely be granted leave for 30 months on a 10-year route to settlement but, once you have leave you will once again meet the requirements to apply for ILR.  You can apply for this immediately as long as the other requirements are met.  Follow the guidance at Visas to remain in UK – indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

b. If you are no longer in a relationship with the serving soldier please get in touch with us fcsupport@aff.org.uk

If you had a visa which was applied for before Dec 2013 and your serving soldier was a non-UK national, you could be on ‘transition rules’ and could still apply for leave under the old immigration rules. You will need to get in touch with us to confirm this. If we confirm you can still apply for ILR, follow the steps below:

Access the SET(AF) form.

  • On the page which says ‘Category of leave’ select either Part 7 under Apply as a partner or child under transitional arrangements, depending on what we have advised

Of a foreign or Commonwealth member of HM Forces (Part 7 transitional arrangements)

  • The soldier must have served for five years, and must have been married for two years
  • You can include any children aged under 18 on this form if they are applying as your dependants. Children over 18 are also eligible if they are still living at home and also had leave on this route
  • You DO NOT need to take the Life in UK test or meet the English language requirement
  • You do not need to meet the financial requirement, but will need to provide evidence of
  • You will also need to provide evidence that you have lived together for the previous two years

You will need to apply for leave using form FLR(AF).

Please get in touch before you submit the application so we can confirm that this is the best route for you. The application will cost £1,048 per applicant.

You should be granted leave for 30 months on a 10-year route to settlement but this leave will not be granted under Armed Forces rules.

Switching onto Armed Forces rules

However, once you have been granted leave on this 10-year route, you should be able to switch onto the Armed Forces 5-year route to settlement. You will need to meet the main requirements – including the English Language and Minimum Income requirements and will need to make another application on form FLR(AF) for another application fee of £1,048. Please refer to guidance at Visas to remain in UK – limited leave under Appendix Armed Forces.

You should contact the F&C team fcsupport@aff.org.uk. You may be able to make an application to remain based upon your human rights, but it would depend upon how long you have been in the UK for and your family situation. We may need to signpost you to an immigration lawyer.

Please get in touch with us if you have a child without a valid visa.

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07   Visas to enter for the children of soldiers (sole responsibility cases)

Please be aware that there is a high refusal rate for these applications. In order to prevent unnecessary refusals, please follow the steps below.

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Please read the guidance at Bringing children from previous relationships to the UK to see if you meet the requirements to bring your child over. You will need to prove that you have sole responsibility for the child by providing evidence as detailed in the guidance and the information below.

Email us at fcsupport@aff.org.uk  – please enter ‘Your name – Sole Responsibility – Teams meeting’ in the subject box.

Our team will then contact you with an invitation to join a video call to discuss your circumstances. You will need a 1 hour time slot. During this call, our advisors will provide you with your options and advise if we think an application is likely to be successful or not. Depending on the likelihood of the outcome, together we will write your sponsor statement.

Start gathering the following evidence. PLEASE DO NOT SEND US THIS EVIDENCE UNLESS WE ASK FOR IT.

Confirmation of current and future living arrangements:
  • Your sponsor letter (as above)
  • Letter from the person the child is currently living with to confirm living arrangements
  • Letter from the other biological parent of the child to confirm they are happy with the arrangement or official letter/documents to show that you have custody. (This is not mandatory as many legal custody documents are not recognised in the UK).
Evidence of contact:
  • Evidence of contact with your child. We suggest screenshots of your WhatsApp or Messenger conversations covering the period from when you left your child to the present day.  We suggest one or two screenshots per month depending on the length of time you have been separated. If you mostly speak to your child on the phone, then a screenshot of the calls along with a screenshot of the contact page to confirm the calls are to your child.
  • Evidence that you discuss the welfare of your child with the person you have entrusted to care for them, again this can be provided through screenshots of your communications.
  • Evidence that you have visited your child if you have been separated for a long time, UKVI will expect to see that you have visited your child, or they have visited you. Evidence of a visit will usually be in the form of photos, but they will only be accepted if they have dates.
Evidence of financial support
  • Evidence of maintenance through remittances or bank payments – as many as possible, not just a few months. The payments should be being made to the person who is looking after your child, if they are not, you will need to explain who the person is who is receiving the money.
Evidence of maintenance and accommodation once in the UK
  • Bank statements and payslips to confirm current salary – we suggest 6 months of each
  • Letter from the unit to confirm your employment and current salary
  • Evidence of accommodation – DIO letter or the unit letter above can confirm you live in SFA.

We do not recommend that you make the application until you have completed steps 1-3 above and we have confirmed that an application is likely to be successful. AFF will be unable to assist with any refusals for applications which we have not advised on.

Visit: visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/product/uk-visit-visa

Confirm your visa type – scroll down and select the child option below then click on NEXT

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Biometrics – You will be asked to type in the country where the biometrics will be taken and to confirm you have checked that you can have biometrics taken there. Select NEXT.

Select a visa type

a. If you have served for 5 years or more you can select the option:
Indefinite leave to enter as the child of a serving member of UK Armed Forces (HM Forces) under Appendix Armed Forces’. Select Apply Now.

Click to enlarge

b. If you have served for less than 5 years select Limited Leave to enter as the child of a serving member of UK Armed Forces under Appendix Armed forces

Click to enlarge

Complete the rest of the form – once you have paid and submitted the application you will be provided with a checklist of supporting documents and will be directed to information about how to submit documents and how to book an appointment.

After you have completed the form and have paid, you will be requested to make an online appointment to attend your nearest visa application centre to have your biometrics taken and to provide certain documents:

  • Your passport.
  • Printout of the email confirming the details of your appointment.
  • Printout of your checklist.
  • Evidence that you have permission to be in the country you are applying from, if you are not a national of that country.
  • The relevant appendix you were asked to download and complete.
  • You may also need a copy of the bio data page from the passport or travel document of the person you are dependent upon and evidence of the current UK immigration status for the person you are dependent upon (if they are already in the UK).

You should check the process for submitting the rest of the supporting documents using your visa application centre website. There are usually 3 options for submitting the documents. If you cannot find the relevant information please contact us. It is very important that you follow the guidance for submitting documents carefully. After submission you will receive a receipt and checklist that will act as acknowledgement for the documents you have submitted.

  1. upload your documents yourself at home if you have access to a scanner or
  2. take the original supporting documents when you have your biometric appointment and use the Document Scanning Assistance facility for an extra fee or
  3. supporting documents can also be submitted by the sponsor in the UK either in person or by post for an additional charge

During the application process you will be asked to download and complete Appendix 2 at gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-uk-visa-as-member-of-hm-armed-forces-vaf-af. You only have to complete the Appendix, not the other form. To complete it, you will need to print out the form and complete it by hand.

Page 1 – select the option for child below

Click to enlarge
Part 1

Put a cross in the box below

Click to enlarge

1.2 – yes
1.3 – when did you first meet your sponsor in person – put the child’s date of birth here
1.4 – ignore
1.5 – ignore
1.6 – ignore as this is in your statement
1.7 – put in the relevant date
1.8 – answer this one
1.9-1.17 – ignore
1.18 – yes
1.19-1.21 – ignore
1.22–1.25 – answer
1.27 – include any other children you have
1.28 – include the children above and anyone else

Part 2

2.1 – if you have an SFA Address then put this in here. If you don’t have one yet then write ‘I will be provided with service families accommodation once my child has been granted a visa, the unit letter accompanying this application gives evidence of this’
2.2 – No, then write in box ‘MOD property’
2.3 – No
2.4 – No
2.5 – 2.7 – answer
2.8 – no

Part 3

Complete as below

Click to enlarge
Part 4

Complete all sections

Part 5

Can ignore unless there is something you wish to explain, get in touch with us if you think you need to write something here.

Children under 18 cannot collect their BRPs so you must nominate yourself to do this and complete the form, it is currently taking over 30 days to approve requests so the earlier you can submit this the better.

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08   Bereaved Partners and children

The Armed Forces immigration rules allow for a bereaved partner and children to be eligible for indefinite leave if the following applies:

  • The soldier was either serving F&C, British or had limited leave or indefinite leave on discharge.
  • The partner/child was still in a relationship with the soldier at the time of their death.
  • The partner/child has or had leave as a partner/child.
  • If the veteran had discharged more than 2 years ago, the partner/child must have had a visa as a partner/child prior to the discharge. However, this visa does not need to be valid at the time of application for indefinite leave.
  • The applicant meets the suitability requirements (this usually means they have no criminal convictions).

Please note:

  • If applying from the UK for indefinite leave to remain, there is no requirement for the partner and/or child to have a valid visa at the time of application. However, they must have had leave as a partner/child whilst the soldier was serving.
  • If the partner/child is outside the UK on an overseas assignment, indefinite leave to enter can be applied for.
  • Limited leave will be granted in cases where the suitability requirements are not met.
  • If the child is over 18, they would also need to have had a visa under Armed Forces rules.

Please contact the AFF F&C support team for more help at fcsupport@aff.org.uk

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Indefinite leave to enter will be granted in the following circumstances:

You are outside UK on an accompanied assignment
You have or had leave as a partner of a member of HM Forces
The soldier was:

  • A foreign or commonwealth citizen who was a serving member of HM Forces or
  • A discharged member of HM Forces granted or seeking leave to enter or remain or
  • A British citizen in HM Forces

You meet the suitability requirements – see the ‘Main requirements section’
At the time of your partners death the relationship was genuine and subsisting.

How do I apply?

Please contact the F&C team on fcsupport@aff.org.uk for guidance on how to apply.

Indefinite leave to remain will be granted in the following circumstances

You are in the UK
Your partner was at the time of your last grant of leave as a partner

  • A foreign or commonwealth citizen who was a serving member of HM Forces or
  • A discharged member of HM Forces granted or seeking leave to enter or remain or
  • A British citizen in HM Forces

You meet the suitability requirements – see the ‘Main requirements section’*
At the time of your partners death the relationship was genuine and subsisting.

You DO NOT need to meet any English language requirements
You DO NOT need to take the Life in UK test.
You DO NOT need to meet any financial requirements

*limited leave to remain for 30 months will be granted if the applicant does not meet the suitability requirement. This will be subject to a condition of no recourse to public funds. This discretion does not apply for applications from overseas.

How do I apply?

Complete form SET(AF).

Children (including over 18s with valid dependants visas) can be included on these applications if the other parent meets the criteria above. Limited leave will again be granted if the suitability requirements are not met for an application for ILR.

Children whose deceased parent had sole responsibility for them will also be eligible for ILE or ILR.  Applications should be made using form SET (AF), follow guidance above.

Contact the F&C team for any questions about these applications.

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09   Appealing a refusal

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Your notice of refusal will tell you if you have a right of appeal. Any refusal to bring a partner or child to the UK automatically grants the right to appeal on the grounds that the decision is unlawful under Section 6 of the Human rights Act 1998.

However, it is really only worth appealing if you can prove that the immigration rules under which your family member applied for entry were satisfied at the time of application.

The review or immigration judge is entitled to look at circumstances/evidence after the date of decision only if they relate to circumstances before or at the time of decision.

  • Additional evidence
    If the main reason for refusal was due to a lack of evidence to show a subsisting relationship, or to show that the financial requirements were met at the time of application, then you should appeal and should send in the additional evidence. This will be considered during the appeal review because it relates to the initial application.
  • New evidence
    However, if the application was refused because the applicant did not take an English language test prior to applying or if the financial requirements were not met at the time of application, then an appeal is not likely to be successful. New evidence, which postdates the decision, cannot be considered as part of the appeal review. This evidence should be used to support a new application instead.

You have 28 days after the refusal date (given on the Notice of Refusal) to appeal. You can appeal online at immigrationappealsonline.justice.gov.uk/IACFees/.

Current cost of appealing is £140 for an oral hearing and £80 for a paper based hearing.

  • Click on ‘submit an appeal’
  • On the first screen tick the first option ‘I have received a decision to refuse my asylum, protection or human rights claim’
  • On the next screen, tick ‘No’ (the appeal is taking place outside the UK)
  • On the next screen, tick ‘Yes’ (it is against the decision of the ECO)
  • On the next screen, tick the first option ‘against a refusal of your human rights claim’
  • You will be asked if you would like an oral hearing or a paper one. Paper hearings are cheaper, but oral hearings have more chance of success as there will be someone there to speak on your partners behalf – that is if you are able to attend as the sponsor
  • You then have to follow the screens to complete all your personal information
  • Section 3B – list all new evidence you are sending in
  • Section 3D – grounds of appeal. AFF can help with this.

You should send in your refusal letter and any supporting documents, which you have noted on the online form, as soon as possible after the application has been submitted. The documents can be emailed or posted in.

All information will be given once the appeal has been submitted online. Read this carefully.

Once you have paid you should receive a Notice of Pending Appeal (IA10). This is an acknowledgement that the appeal has been registered by the First Tier Tribunal (FTT). The date given on the IA10 is the date by which they expect to receive the evidence (known as the bundle) from the Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) to support their decision to refuse – see below.  This is not a hearing date.

The ECM will reconsider the original decision. If they decide to overturn the refusal based on the new evidence, they will contact the applicant. If they decide that the original decision should stand, they will send the evidence, on which they based their decision to refuse, to FTT.

Once the FTT has received the bundle from the ECM, the appeal will be listed for a hearing at the next available date. You can also submit other documents during this time.

Although the IA10 has a date on it, it is meaningless. There is a massive backlog of appeal cases and the basic message is that it will take as long as it takes. There are now 65,000 outstanding appeals waiting to be determined, an increase in the backlog of 22%.

The ECM review can take anywhere from three to six months. You only know if it has been successful if you receive notification.

If the ECM decides not to overturn the original decision, then you won’t be told about this. You won’t receive any more information from the FTT until you get a hearing date.

The latest tribunal statistics, published in March 2017, show that the average waiting time for appeals to be heard in the immigration tribunal for visas to enter the UK is 83 weeks – that’s a year and a half.

The success rate for entry clearance appeals was 51% in the most recent tribunal statistics for 2016.

  • The F&C Specialist can provide advice and guidance relating to appeals
  • We can suggest additional evidence to be provided
  • We can assist with a detailed chronological statement to explain circumstances
  • We can refer your case to a Level 3 advisor if we are unable to assist due to the nature of the refusal

We cannot represent clients at the tribunal or undertake substantive appeals work.  

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