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Andover family calls for change to citizenship application laws for Commonwealth soldiers

Picture credited to the Swart family

The government's being urged to waive the cost of citizenship applications for Commonwealth soldiers who serve in the British Army by a family from Andover.

Hannah Swart has launched the petition, which already has more than 150,000 signatures, to try and prevent her husband from being forced to move back to South Africa.

She says the fact they can't afford the £2,300 citizenship fee could break up her family.

Hannah's published this message on an online petition page she's set up:

"My South African husband has been serving with the British army for 12 years. He’s served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he’s been deployed in the streets of London to protect people after terrorist attacks. But if we can’t find the money to pay for his citizenship, he will be shipped off to South Africa when he’d done serving with the British army.

"We’ve been married for 10 years and have a seven year old daughter and a four year old boy. If my husband was forced to leave the UK it would break up our family.

"Soldiers from commonwealth countries can apply for indefinite leave to remain, but it will cost us around two thousand pounds. At the moment this is not a sum that we can afford, and this is true for many other families too. That’s why I’m calling for the fees to be waived for commonwealth soldiers who serve in the British army.

"If he gets medically discharged or made redundant right now we wouldn’t be able to keep him in the UK. He pays British taxes and puts his life at risk for this country - but he could still be shipped off. This is a constant worry hanging over our family.

"Please sign my petition calling on the Home Office to let commonwealth soldiers who serve for the British Army stay in the UK free of charge."

The Home Office has responded to the concerns by telling us it values all members of the armed forces and says it regularly reviews fees:

“The Government highly values the service of all members of HM Forces, including Commonwealth nationals.

“We are committed to upholding our obligations under the Armed Forces Covenant, to ensure that no one who is serving, or who has served, or their family members are disadvantaged as a result of their service.

“Income from fees charged for immigration and nationality applications plays a vital role in our ability to run a sustainable immigration and nationality system and minimise the burden on the taxpayer. The Home Office reviews fees on a yearly basis.”

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