Published: Tue, November 06, 2018

Armed Forces: Foreigners living overseas invited to join

Armed Forces: Foreigners living overseas invited to join

The Ministry of Defence will remove the need for Commonwealth citizens to have lived in the United Kingdom for five years before applying for service, it will be announced on Monday.

"We have now chose to remove the five-year United Kingdom residency criterion for Commonwealth citizens and increase recruitment to 1,350 across the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force (RAF)", reads the MoD statement.

This would open up opportunities to interested people based in countries like Bangladesh, India, Australia, Canada and Kenya, according to the statement.

Until now, they had to have resided in Britain for five years and their recruitment was capped at a maximum of 200 per year. This limited waiver has now been widened, with the RAF and Navy beginning recruitment of Commonwealth applicants right away and the Army to accept such applications from early 2019.

Rules requiring Commonwealth citizens to have lived in the United Kingdom for five years before applying for service were previously lifted in 2016 for some specialist roles including metalsmiths and medical technicians, with the number capped at 200 annually across the Army, Royal Navy, and RAF.

However, MPs have said it highlighted the recruitment crisis in the Armed Forces.

According to The Telegraph, the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will begin the process of taking on Commonwealth recruits nearly immediately, while the army is slated to start from early next year.


Mark Francois, who sits on the Defence Select Committee, said he welcomed the announcement, but that it "cannot excuse" Capita, the business service provider contracted to run the armed forces' recruitment campaign, whose work he described as an "unmitigated disaster". Francois, who spent a year meeting MoD officials and military personnel, said: "The army is disappearing before our eyes and will continue to do so until Capita are sacked".

But a Capita spokesman told the Telegraph: 'We are confident that the changes we are introducing to the Army recruitment process are delivering [better] outcomes for candidates and the Army'.

The UK armed forces are short of 8,200 soldiers, sailors and air personnel, a report found earlier this year, the worse shortage since 2010.

Concern was also raised in April's National Audit Office report that there were "much larger shortfalls" in the number of engineers, pilots and intelligence analysts.

In January 2018, the army launched a campaign that attempted to encourage diversity in the forces, calling on people of different religious beliefs and sexualities to join.

He cited recent evidence given to the committee that the Army would be "lucky" to reach 50 per cent of its recruitment figures this year. It said the air force iswas undertaking more missions than it had for a quarter of a century.

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