In a social media plea, former Gurkha Nirmal “Nims” Purja MBE says: “Those who serve the UK with loyalty should be allowed to stay without charge.”
And I totally agree with him.
Born in Nepal, Nims had a distinguished 16-year military career, of which he spent six years as a Gurkha and 10 years with the UK Special Forces (SBS).
His plea relates to a proposed amendment for the scrapping of visa fees for all foreign soldiers who have served in the UK military for five years. This visa waiver would also apply to members of their families.
It was Labour’s Dan Jarvis and Conservative Johnny Mercer – both Army veterans – who put forward the amendment to the Immigration and Borders Bill.
The initial consultation proposed scrapping UK visa fees for foreign armed forces personnel who had given 12 years’ service or more. But the proposed provision did not include family members and would not be applied retrospectively.
Jarvis and Mercer argued that the proposed eligibility period of 12 years was “far too long”, and urged the government to “right this wrong”.
Currently, those who have served the UK with loyalty, courage and dedication can apply to stay here when they leave the service. But visas cost £2,389 which each family member has to pay. That means an average of nearly £10,000 for a family to stay.
How does this government expect people to find that kind of money? Again, another example of Tory “out-of-touch” policies.
I agree with Lord Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff until 2013, who said: “To ask servicemen and women to pay for the privilege to live in a country they fought for or were to prepare to defend is absolutely out of order.”
Most of us were absolutely horrified by the way our government let down so many Afghans.
They had risked their lives and those of their families to work with British soldiers. And what does our government do in their hour of need? Well, the head of our Foreign Office, Sir Philip Barton, took a 17-day holiday during the peak of the crisis, only returning 11 days after the Taliban had captured the Afghan capital.
Ex Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also stayed on holiday in that dark week for Afghanistan.
We cannot allow politicians to turn a blind eye to the people who help us in our time of need and stand with us to protect British interests.
We cannot allow this betrayal of our allies who put their necks on the line for us.
Nims is asking each one of us to write just a “one-line email to their MP” to support the scrapping of the visa fees.
He believes “we could make this happen overnight”. He says: “I was able to pay the visa, and my family and I could stay, but for some, that fee is just too high.
“I believe those who serve, fight and put their lives on the line should be able to choose to stay in the UK if they wish.”
The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes have also campaigned for the visa fees to be scrapped. Let’s all get behind them. It is s our duty to offer this token of gratitude and respect to our foreign soldiers.