UK government announced a relaxation in the recruitment criteria to allow Commonwealth nationals, including Indians, to apply for jobs on Monday in its armed forces to meet a shortage in its ranks.
UK Ministry of Defence announced proposals in a written ministerial statement before Parliament, which involves waiving the current requirement of living in the UK for five years before applying to join the country’s Army, Navy or Air Force.
Recruitments opens in countries like India, Australia, Canada and Kenya and meet the necessary recruitment criteria for the service and the role they wish to join. The Commonwealth is an association of 53 independent states, including India.
UK decided to remove five year residency criterion for Commonwealth citizens and increase recruitment to 1,350 across the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force (RAF).
“Applications will be accepted from all Commonwealth countries, although in order to accept the risks associated with unaccompanied minors travelling to the UK without the guarantee of a job, applications will not be accepted from those under 18.”
A limited waiver to the residency requirement was introduced in May 2016 to recruit up to 200 Commonwealth personnel per year to fill skill shortage posts. 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. Applications from citizens of countries outside the Commonwealth will not be accepted. “Citizens from the Commonwealth have a long tradition of serving with distinction in the Armed Forces.
Special rules already allow citizens of Ireland and Gurkhas from Nepal to join the British armed forces. The five-year UK residency requirement for Commonwealth recruits was first waived in 1998, before being reintroduced in 2013.
A National Audit Office (NAO) report had revealed in April this year that the UK’s armed forces are short of around 8,200 soldiers, sailors and air personnel. Among measures to meet this shortage, women are now allowed to apply for all roles in the British military for the first time.
Britain currently employs 4,500 Commonwealth citizens in the armed forces, with 3,940 in the Army, 480 in the Royal Navy and 80 in the RAF.