Prince Harry Supports Campaign to End Immigration Fees for Foreign-Born Military Veterans in U.K.

A spokesperson confirms to BAZAAR.com that the Duke of Sussex spoke to politician Johnny Mercer about the issue on Monday.

britains prince harry, duke of sussex leaves a service of commemoration and thanksgiving to mark anzac day in westminster abbey in london on april 25, 2019   anzac day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by australian and new zealand forces during the first world war the australian and new zealand army corps anzac landed at gallipoli in turkey during world war i photo by victoria jones  pool  afp        photo credit should read victoria jonesafp via getty images
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Though he stepped back from his royal role nearly two years ago, Prince Harry remains committed as ever to tackling important issues for military personnel in Britain and across the Commonwealth.

A spokesperson for the Duke of Sussex confirms to BAZAAR.com that the royal has backed efforts to end immigration fees for foreign-born United Kingdom veterans who wish to remain in the country.

Former British defense minister Johnny Mercer revealed to politicians that he had spoken to Harry about the matter on Monday evening, adding that the duke told him it’s “morally right” to change current rules.

Speaking in the Houses of Parliament in London on Tuesday, the Conservative politician and former British Army officer asked for ministers to waive the £2,389 ($3,162) visa fees for foreign and Commonwealth military personal, and their families, who have served for a minimum of five years. Currently, the British Ministry of Defense and Home Office have only proposed waiving the one-time, per person visa application fee for veterans who have served for at least 12-years—much longer than the average amount of time spent active in the armed forces (between six and seven years).

“I speak to all sorts of people in the veterans community—last night I had a conversation with Prince Harry about this,” Mercer said. “He has contributed hugely to the veterans debate and I wanted his view.”

He added, “[The Duke] said to me it’s not only morally right but would mean so much to those who have given so much—and it’s not a political intervention, it is the moral purpose of this. … It’s an almost effortless change, as he said, for this Government to make for us, to finally see through what we’ve said for these people for so long because we owe it to them. They’re our brothers and sisters, they’ve served with us over many, many years.”

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A representative for Harry tells BAZAAR.com that Mercer brought the issue to the prince having remained in contact since working together on military mental health issues. They add that the pair spoke “veteran to veteran” and that Harry is always eager support the purpose and intent behind initiatives that better support servicemen and women who have made sacrifices for their countries.

Mercer’s words in Parliament on December 7 follow a Fijian veteran in England who served in the British Armed Forces for nine years, fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq wars, being billed more than $13,000 to remain in the country with their family. Currently there are over 10,000 non-uk citizens serving in the British Armed Forces from commonwealth countries including Australia, Canada, Fiji, India, Ghana, Jamaica, New Zealand, and Nigeria — many of whom are planning to remain in the U.K. when their service ends.

“Could you really look that family in the eye and say, ‘No, you have to pay, we have to make a profit out of you for you to stay in this country, despite the fact that you were prepared to commit so much to the privileges and the freedoms we enjoy’?” Mercer asked.

Despite his proposal, politicians rejected his amendment suggestion by 296 votes to 251. Mercer has pledged to continue campaigning.

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