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Now, C'wealth soldiers can be UK citizens

New rules state that commonwealth soldiers can apply for UK citizenship despite being stationed abroad.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 18:07 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Soldiers from Commonwealth countries serving in the British armed forces abroad, can now gain British citizenship under a rule change announced by the home office here.

Under the new rules, to reflect the commitment and sacrifice made by serviceman outside Britain in the British forces, they will now be eligible to apply for citizenship despite having been stationed abroad for the majority of their service.

They will no longer be required to complete five years' residency in the country (three years if married to or the civil partner of a British citizen) before applying to become a British citizen. Instead, time spent serving anywhere in the world will be counted towards the residency requirement.

Home secretary John Reid said: "This change reflects the commitment to the safety and security of the United Kingdom these men and women show everyday despite not being stationed on British soil.

"I'm sure British citizens will welcome this positive recognition of the contribution these troops make to the safety and security of this country and our interests abroad. Everyday these members of our armed forces put their lives at risk for the British public."

Serving members of the Brigade of Gurkhas will continue to be treated in accordance with the British government's longstanding agreement with the Nepal government that they must remain Nepalese citizens until they leave the Brigade of Gurkhas.

After they have left the brigade, however, they will be able to count their armed forces service at home or abroad towards their application for citizenship.

Undersecretary of state for defence Derek Twigg said: "Military personnel from the Commonwealth have made and continue to make an invaluable contribution to the success of armed forces at home and overseas. Commonwealth personnel, for example, helped deal with the foot and mouth (disease) outbreak and are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan."

First Published: Nov 30, 2006 18:07 IST