Visa Regulations to Enter UK as a Member of Armed Forces and the Temporary Stay of a Partner of the Member


The visa process of the UK is defined through a regulatory procedure described by the law of the country, of which the Home Office is obligated to abide by. The visa process varies depending on the visa type such as UK tier 1 general visa, tier 1 entrepreneur investment visa, tier 1 investor visa UK, tier 4 student visa etc.

In relation to members of the Her Majesty’s Armed forces (of Britain) that are not UK nationals, the process to enter the country temporarily and permanently is defined in the UK Immigration Rules. The following are the types of members that are recognized as a part of the UK armed forces, and are applicable to enter the country as such:

  • Any non-UK national or a member of the Commonwealth of HM’s Armed Forces currently discharged from service;
  • Any dependants such as spouse, civil partner, unmarried (or same-sex) partner or children of the member of the HM’s Armed Forces;
  • Any dependants such as spouse, civil partner, unmarried (or same-sex) partner or children of a non-HM Force member excluded from immigration control;
  • A non-HM Force’s member not excluded from immigration control;
  • Any dependants such as spouse, civil partner, unmarried (or same-sex) partner or children of a non-HM Force member who is not excluded from immigration control;
  • Any civilian employee employed by NATO, a company contracted by NATO or the Australian Department of Defence;
  • Any dependants such as spouse, civil partner, unmarried (or same-sex) partner or children of civilian employee employed by NATO, a company contracted by NATO or the Australian Department of Defence.

Requirements to Enter the UK as a Member of the Armed Forces

Certain criteria exists which must be met if permission to enter the country is to be granted to members of the armed forces. These are defined as:

  • An entry clearance document must be shown to an immigration officer upon arrival unless the individual is a non-UK national, seeking to stay for a period shorter than 6 months and is outside of the UK when making the application;
  • Documents that serve as proof of identity and the nationality such as a passport must be shown to an Immigration Officer when the individual enters the country;

Grounds of Refusal for Members of the Armed Forces seeking to enter the UK 

Grounds under which a person who wishes to enter the UK as a member of the armed forces can be refused entry are stated as:

  • The Secretary of State has personally declared the order to exclude the entry of the person from the country on grounds of public safety;
  • The person making the application under such scenarios is currently facing deportation from the UK;
  • If a criminal record with imprisonment of a person serves as an indication of his/her entry into the UK being a risk to public safety, the person can be refused entry into country. The imprisonment must be of one of the following periods:
  • A 4 year period;
  • In the case of an application being made to permanently settle in the UK, the imprisonment ended less than 15 years ago, and the sentencing was of a 1 year period but less than a 4 year period;
  • In the case of an application being made to enter the UK, the imprisonment ended less than 10 years ago, and the sentencing was of a 1 year period but less than a 4 year period;

It should be noted that an exception to this refusal ground can be entertained if the case of the person’s application falls within any protection under human rights laws;

  • If an individual wishes to extend his/her stay or permanently settle in the UK as a member of the Armed Forces, but has committed an offence that resulted in serious damage or shows no signs of stopping with disregard for the law, the person’s application can be refused.
  • If at least 2 years prior to the application, the person was the subject of a sentence that has been recorded in his/her criminal record, an application for permanent residency can be refused;
  • The person’s entry or permanent safety into the UK is a threat to the good of the public, including reasons such as past convictions, the Home Office holds the right to refuse any such person entry into the country.
  • If the person was previously removed from the country within the previous 5 year period of the application to enter the country is being made, permission to enter can be refused by the Home Office;
  • If the person making the application fails to comply with a request from the Home Office for an interview, a submission of information relevant to the application, any physical information or a medical report or examination without proper reason, the application can be refused;
  • If information provided within the application of the person has been falsified, misrepresented, or any false documents have been submitted with or without the intention of the person making the application, entry into the country can be refused;
  • Any facts that were vital to the application were not disclosed by the person;
  • If the person making the application has not paid dues that are outstanding, to the NHS, that amount to GBP 1000 or more. Applications can also be refused if person fail to pay the relevant dues of the NHS relating to charges on foreign visitors;

Requirements to Enter the UK for Discharged Members of Her Majesty’s Forces

Requirements that need to be met by members of HM’s forces that have been discharged are stated as follows:

  • A period of service that amounts to at least 4 years has been met by the person discharged from HM’s forces;
  • The person making the application under such circumstances meets the criteria for being medically discharged from HM’s forces;
  • If the person was discharged less than 2 years into the application being made to enter;
  • If the person who was discharged due to medical purposes is the subject of a reexamination of his/her application by the Home Office;
  • In the case of application for extension of stay being made, the previous period of stay must have been on grounds of a Commonwealth citizen who was discharged from HM’s forces.
  • If the application to enter the country under such circumstances is being made by a Gurkha i.e. a national of Nepal.

In the case of the person being medically discharged from HM’s forces, the cause is related to a serious injury or medical condition that made it unfavorable for the person to continue service. This takes into consideration certain factors such as probability and time of recovery, accessibility of medical treatment etc.

In the case of the person wishing to permanently settle in the country under such circumstances of being discharged, the person must be outside of the UK as well as having made a legitimate application for an entry clearance document stating his/her request to permanently settle in the country. The person’s application must also not fall on any of the general grounds for refusal listed in Part 9 of the UK Immigration Rules.

In the case of the person wishing an extension on his/her stay in the country, permission will be granted to persons who are currently residing in the UK, are not in breach of any of the immigration laws of the country (excluding overstaying for a period less than 28 days), and have made a legitimate application for extension of period of stay in the country under the described circumstances. The person’s application must also not fall on any of the general grounds for refusal listed in Part 9 of the UK Immigration Rules. It should be noted that a period of stay of less than 30 months is granted to individuals looking for such an extension.

Requirements to Enter the UK for Partners of Members of Her Majesty’s Forces

  • The person sponsoring such an application is a member of HM Forces and is not the subject of immigration control;
  • The person sponsoring such an application has valid permission to stay in the UK;
  • Both the partner and the person sponsoring such an application are 18 or above the age of 18 when making an application under these circumstances;
  • Both the partner and the person sponsoring such an application must not be in a relationship that is illegal under UK law;
  • The couple must have met in person and must show necessary evidence of their intention to live together permanently;
  • The couple must provide the necessary evidence to back the claim that the application being made is genuine and not formed to gain entry into the UK;
  • Any previous relationships of both the partner and the sponsor must have ended at the time of the application being made;
  • If the partner and the person sponsoring an application under such circumstance are in a civil relationship or marriage, necessary evidence to prove its validity must be submitted;
  • In the case where the partner is the fiancé of the sponsor, the application must be being made for the intention of the couple getting married in the UK or entering into a legal civil partnership.
  • The partner must be outside of the UK at the time of the application being made;
  • The partner must have applied, or must possess, a valid entry clearance document issued under these circumstances;
  • The partner must prove his/her English language skills to be of an adequate level if entry is to be granted;
  • The couple must prove that they are financially stable to provide for their accommodation and possess the necessary funds to live in the UK;

If the above mentioned requirements are met, entry is granted to the person as being the same as his/her partner, with a period 5 years maximum. The partner of the sponsor will not be allowed to take money from public funds or seek employment in the case of a fiancé.

Requirements to Extend Stay in the UK for Partners of Members of Her Majesty’s Forces

  • The partner must not intend to stay further as a visitor;
  • The partner is not in defiance of the immigration laws of the UK, excluding overstaying in the country for a period of less than 28 days.
  • In the case that the original stay was as a fiancé or a proposed civil partner, a reasonable explanation must be given as to why the marriage or civil partnership has not taken place.
  • The partner must prove his/her English language skills to be of an adequate level;
  • The couple must prove that they are financially stable to provide for their accommodation and possess the necessary funds to further live in the UK;

If the above mentioned requirements are met, entry is granted to the person as being the same as his/her partner, with a period 5 years maximum. The partner of the sponsor will not be allowed to take money from public funds or seek employment in the case of a fiancé.

A couple who fulfills this period of extension becomes eligible to apply for permanent residency within the country after a 60 month period.

It should be noted that all visa applications, whether they be in any visa category such as visit visa, UK tier 1, tier 1 entrepreneur investment visa, tier 1 investor visa UK or tier 1 investor visa qualifying investments etc. are subject to refusal by the Home Office if it is decided as such according to the law.