U.K. paperwork changes affect family members
RAF MILDENHALL, England — Starting this week, military members who receive permanent change of station orders for the United Kingdom will have to ensure their family members have additional paperwork before arrival.
The British government now requires anyone staying in the country longer than six months to arrive with an entry clearance permit.
“Before you travel to the U.K., you need to get permission, really, to enter the U.K.,” said a spokeswoman with the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in London.
The new procedure is designed to bring the United Kingdom into compliance with the rest of the European Union. The law was enacted in November, but a two-month grace period was allowed. That period ended Tuesday.
Maj. Michael O’Connor of 3rd Air Force headquarters at RAF Mildenhall said the new law applies to family members and dependents of American military members, but not servicemembers themselves.
“You can no longer fly here with your family and show your passports and military orders and get in,” he said.
He said military members with orders to the United Kingdom must contact a nearby British consulate and fill out an application for anyone accompanying them to the assignment. The cost, which is reimbursable, will be 75 British pounds, but can be paid in whatever the currency of the originating country is. That’s about $140.
In America, applications will be handled at consulates in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Consulates in other countries where military members might be stationed when they receive orders can be identified on the Web site: www.ukvisas.gov.uk. Personnel offices also will have information.
“Their goal is to process it within one week of receiving it,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor said Third Air Force has had discussions with the British government to tweak the application process for military families.
“The application form applies to everyone who is coming to the United Kingdom for visits of six months or more,” he said. “It’s not geared for military people assigned here.” For example, it asks for information regarding bank accounts.
O’Connor said the government has agreed to “streamline” the application process for U.S. military members’ families.
“They’ve totally agreed to work with us in the parameters of their own guidelines and rules,” he said.
The definition of “dependent” must also be redefined for Americans. For the British, it refers to children under the age of 18. American military members may travel with older children or a parent to a new assignment. Those applications will require more time for processing.
O’Connor said the grace period ended only Tuesday, but the first reports from the field show it to be working well.