Foreign fighters to be allowed into Armed Forces without having lived in UK

Foreign nationals will be eligible to join the Armed Forces in greater numbers, Ministers will announce, as British residency requirements for service are set to be scrapped.

The Ministry of Defence will remove the need for Commonwealth citizens to have lived in the UK for five years before applying for service, it will be announced on Monday.

An extra 1,350 personnel from oversees are hoped to be enlisted to the the Navy, Army and Air Force every year.

Gurkha 200 Pageant
Gurkha 200 Pageant

The move comes as the Armed Forces struggle to recruit enough personnel to fill a shortfall in their ranks.

Applicants from nations including India, Australia, Canada and Fiji will be considered for all roles in the forces, without having lived in the UK.

Until now, they had to have resided in Britain for five years and their recruitment was capped at a maximum of 200 per year.

The Army will begin the admissions from early next year, while the Navy and RAF will commence the process immediately.

Other than the Nepalese Gurkhas and applicants from the Republic of Ireland who can enrol under a special arrangement, those from outside the Commonwealth will still need British citizenship to apply.

In April, a National Audit Office report said the full-time military was running at a 5.7% shortfall.

An extra 8,2000 regulars and 2,400 engineers were needed to fill the "largest gap in a decade", the report added, while intelligence analysts and pilots were also in demand.