Following closure in March 2020 as a result of Coronavirus, the Armed Forces Team (AFT) at UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) has now re-opened. However, due to Home Office Coronavirus safety measures it can only offer a very limited service. The AFT is accepting new passports and is also engaged with clearing the backlog of passports that has accumulated since March.
Non-UK Service Personnel (SP) are to note:
-SP who have already had passports submitted to AFT for inclusion of the “Exempt UK Immigration Control” vignette will have them processed and returned to their RAO in due course, but it is impossible for AFT to say at this stage how long this will take.
-Any SP who are currently waiting for their passport to be processed and require it urgently e.g. to travel for family emergency can contact Regional Command Family Support Team who will engage with AFT to see if the passport can be returned without the exemption vignette, with a view to resubmitting it later in the year.
-The submission of passports to AFT for inclusion of the exemption vignette can resume but be aware that processing times will inevitably take much longer than usual. As above, AFT is unable to advise as to the potential length of delay at this stage.
-Not having the exemption vignette in a passport does not prevent non-UK SP from travelling on military business. They can use their Army ID card as proof of being a serving soldier.
-SP who require an exemption vignette should therefore consider with their RAO whether they need to submit the passport to AFT immediately or whether they are able to wait until later in the year when processing times should be reduced as the backlog is cleared.
-All passports sent to AFT must still be sent in accordance with the requirements set out in Annex A of the Unit Guide to Supporting Non-UK Nationals.