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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2014 at 10:20am

A soldier from Fiji who fought for the British Armed forces has been granted the right to stay in the UK, having spent the last month detained in an immigration centre and threatened with deportation.

Filimone Lacanivalu issued a personal plea to Prime Minister David Cameron to stop British authorities removing him in light of his nine years of service with the British Army. His career with the forces included two tours of Afghanistan and serving in Northern Ireland and Bosnia with 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment

Mr Lacanivalu was unaware that Commonwealth soldiers had to apply to the Home Office for the right to remain in the UK within 28 days of him leaving the army in 2010. After discovering that he needed to send off a form for permission to remain, it was already too late and he was refused leave to stay in the UK, the BBC has reported.

He then attended a Home Office centre in October for help in resolving his case, but was immediately detained and warned he would be taken back to Fiji. It was not until his case became public that Mr Lacanivalu was granted residency in Britain.

In his plea to Mr Cameron, he said he felt "betrayed" by Britain and asked: "Please take account of my military service and what I have done for Great Britain. Release me from here and I will continue my life as usual,"according to the Mail Online.

His appeal was widely covered in the media and lead to his case being reviewed by the Home Secretary Theresa May, who decided Mr Lacanivalu should be given the right to settle in Britain.

A Home Office spokesman told the BBC: "Foreign and Commonwealth military personnel who have served for more than four years can apply to settle here up to two years after leaving the military.

"Although Mr Lacanivalu applied to stay outside of this time, the Home Secretary and Immigration Minister personally reviewed his case and, in light of his service in the British Army, have agreed he should be granted settlement in the UK."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mfsg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Feb 2014 at 8:21am

'Exemplary' soldier wins battle to appeal against deportation from UK over speeding fine after judge insisted decision was 'legally-flawed'

  • Sapper Poloko Hiri, from Botswana, served four years in the British military
  • Home Office rejected his application for citizenship following speeding fine
  • Claimed offence was sign of 'bad character' and ordered him to leave UK
  • Spr Hiri faced certain arrest and up to 25 years in jail under Botswana law
  • But High Court judge has ordered Home Secretary to 'reconsider' decision
  • Mrs Justice Lang said UK Border Agency 'inadequately' assessed Spr Hiri
  • Soldier has spoken of his relief at judgement - declaring: 'I'm so happy'

By Ian Drury, Defence Correspondent

PUBLISHED: 21:30, 18 February 2014 | UPDATED: 22:26, 18 February 2014                   


Success: Sapper Poloko Hiri, 33, from Botswana, has won a crucial legal battle to stay in this country

An ‘exemplary’ British Army soldier threatened with deportation because of a £100 speeding fine has won a crucial legal battle to stay in this country.

Sapper Poloko Hiri, 33, from Botswana, served four years in the UK military.

But Home Office bureaucrats rejected his application for citizenship, claiming his driving offence was a sign of ‘bad character’.

UK Border Agency officials ruled the serviceman should be bracketed with murderers, rapists and drug dealers and ordered him to quit Britain.

Spr Hiri faced certain arrest, prosecution and up to 25 years in jail back in Botswana because enlisting in a foreign army is a criminal offence.

But today, a High Court judge ordered Home Secretary Theresa May to ‘reconsider’ the decision, insisting it was ‘legally-flawed’.

In a damning ruling, Mrs Justice Lang said the UKBA had carried out an ‘inadequate’ assessment of the soldier’s character and had merely resorted to ‘inflexibly... ticking boxes on a form’.

She said officials should not just look at previous criminal convictions when deciding immigration cases.

Spr Hiri, of Limehouse, east London, who is currently studying a law degree after leaving the Army, spoke last night of his relief at the judgement.

 He said: ‘I’m just glad this is all over. I’m so happy. I made a misjudgement when I was speeding and I still feel like an idiot that I put a lot of people in a difficult situation, including the Home Office which had to make a tough decision.
'Exemplary' soldier: Home Office bureaucrats rejected Spr Hiri's application for citizenship because of a £100 speeding fine - claiming it was a sign of 'bad character'. Above, the soldier is pictured in Canada in 2011

‘I couldn’t have gone back to Botswana - I wouldn’t have been anywhere. I now want to get on with my life, finish my law degree and be a good citizen of the UK.’

His case has left the Government accused once again of ‘betraying’ the military, following round after round of spending cuts.

Spr Hiri’s supporters had pointed out the UKBA’s decision was at odds with the Government’s pledge to uphold the Military Covenant, society’s duty of care to servicemen.

The ex-soldier, who has a two-year-old daughter in the UK with his ex-girlfriend, enlisted as a Commonwealth serviceman in the Royal Engineers in August 2008.

He was eager to fulfil his dream of being a soldier but was too old to join the Botswana Defence Force.

Spr Hiri joined 73 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 21 Engineer Regiment and completed exercises in the UK and Canada.

In August 2011, he gave 12 months notice he wanted to leave the Army to take a degree - a move supported by commanders.

He applied for British citizenship in April 2012 ahead of his Army leaving date.

But the UKBA rejected his bid because he had received a £100 fine and five penalty points for speeding on the M1 after leaving Ripon Barracks for his Easter leave. He had been doing 81mph in a temporary 50mph roadworks zone at 1.30am in November 2011.

He asked for the decision to be reconsidered by UKBA officials refused to budge, prompting him to launch a Judicial Review.

In the High Court in London yesterday, Mrs Justice Lang ruled the Home Office decision ‘legally-flawed’ because it had not considered ‘all aspects’ of his character and background.

She said: ‘Plainly, criminal convictions are relevant to the assessment of character, but they are likely to vary greatly in significance, depending upon the nature of the offence and the length of time which has elapsed since its commission, as well as any pattern of repeat offending‘A policy on the way in which criminal convictions will normally be considered by caseworkers... should not be applied mechanistically and inflexibly.

‘There has to be a comprehensive assessment of each applicant’s character, as an individual, which involves an exercise of judgment, not just ticking boxes on a form.

‘This was not an adequate assessment of the claimant’s [Spr Hiri’s] character, as required by law.’

‘I’m just glad this is all over. I’m so happy. I still feel like an idiot that I put a lot of people in a difficult situation'
Sapper Poloko Hiri

Dr Hugh Milroy, chief executive of charity Veterans Aid, which campaigned for Spr Hiri, said: ‘If Poloko were good enough to carry a weapon for this country, then surely he is good enough to be a citizen.’

His former officer commanding, Major Chloe Plimmer, told the court that Spr Hiri was and ‘intelligent, motivated and hard-working soldier’ with an ‘exemplary record of conduct’.

She said: ‘To see that he has been denied British citizenship for what is deemed as “bad character” directly contradicts his performance as a serving soldier.

‘It appears that one moment’s act of misjudgment has defined and tarnished his otherwise good character. The offence was a foolish mistake but it is not a reflection of his character.'

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Edited by mfsg - 19 Feb 2014 at 8:26am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mfsg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Jul 2014 at 8:57am

March 28th 2010.

A WAR hero has been told he will be kicked out of the country unless he stumps up £1300 to get his visa renewed.

Former Royal Scots private Fereti 'Freddie' Bureqele, 28, will have to find the cash if he wants to stay in Scotland with his wife Nicola, 30, and children Ryan, nine, Junior, four, and Oni, three.

Freddie served with distinction in Bosnia and Iraq during six years in the Army and is now with the Territorials.

He is due to leave for a tour of duty in Afghanistan in October, where he will be based for five months.

But he has been told he will have to fork out cash to the UK Border Agency for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) visa on his passport - or be deported back to Fiji.

He is being forced to pay £1000 to fly to the South Pacific island to get a new passport, as his current document is running out, then pay another £300 to get a new UK Border Agency stamp.

Gutted Freddie already paid £750 to get the stamp when he left the Army in 2008.

Under strict immigration laws, Freddie must always have an up-to-date passport or he will be booted out of the UK.

If he wants British citizenship, he will have to pay another £800 and sit the Life In The UK test - a Government exam immigrants must pass before being granted a UK passport.

Freddie, of West Linton in the Borders, said: "It's as if the Government don't want me to remain in the United Kingdom despite my years of service.

"When I tell people about my situation, they think I must be joking.

"It's a real worry for me and my family but we have to find the money somehow or I'll be deported back to Fiji.

"I was proud to serve this country with the Royal Scots and I'm still proud to do my bit with the Territorial Army.

"But the whole problem with my visa has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

"If I don't get it resolved by October, I'll be sent back to Fiji and I can forget about staying here and going to serve in Afghanistan.

"I'm allowed to apply for UK citizenship now but I must have a valid Fijian passport first.

"Then I'll have to sit a 'right to stay in the UK 'exam - which feels l ike another slap in the face consider ing my service in the military."

His wife Nicola said: "The way my husband is being treated is an absolute disgrace.

"The Government were happy for him to join the Army and send him to Iraq to fight, yet they make it so difficult for him to stay in Scotland.

"Unless we can find the cash to fly Freddie to Fiji and pay to have the visa renewed, the future is very uncertain.

"Men like Freddie have put their lives on the line for this country and this is how they are repaid for their service."

Freddie's former sergeant major in the Royal Scots, George Gaff, said: "Freddie was a brilliant soldier and I'm furious that the Government are treating him like this.

"It makes me so angry that a fine man like Freddie who served this country proudly is now facing a fight to remain in the UK with his family."

Freddie joined the Army in 2002 and served in Basra during the Iraq conflict.

Figures released four years ago revealed that Fiji was the top Commonwealth country for new recruits.

More than 2000 Fijians serve in the British forces.

Freddie knew tragic Fijian rifleman Aminiasi 'Togey' Toge, from the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, who was killed in an explosion while on foot patrol in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in July last year.

Freddie was also friends with Fijian fusilier Petero 'Pat' Suesue, of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who was killed in Afghanistan last May.

He said: "Fiji is a small island and when a Fijian soldier is killed the loss is felt by everyone.

"Pat and I joined the Army around the same time and I was so sad when he was killed. I'm proud to have known him and Togey."

The UK Border Agency said: "The cost to apply for settlement within the UK and from abroad is the same for everyone, including soldiers and individuals.

"The requirement to pay the fee is set out in law and we have no provisions to waive it."

Edited by mfsg - 03 Jul 2014 at 8:59am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Mar 2016 at 9:47am

A FIJIAN soldier, who served in the British Army for nine years and fought in Iraq and Afghanistan has been left destitute in Edinburgh without legal leave to remain.

Semesa Maiyale – known to his friends as Sam – was recruited by the British Army from Fiji, part of the Commonweath, in 2003 and was told that he if he served four years, he would have the right to stay in the UK.

But when he was discharged in 2012, his paperwork was not properly completed and his own application, made later under Human Rights grounds, was rejected by the Home Office.

He now falls outwith the eligibility for settlement as a discharged member of the Armed Forces as he left more than two years ago and is living in legal limbo despite rules allowing all Commonwealth citizens, who have served four years in the army, indefinite leave to remain.

He has no right to work, cannot claim benefits or housing and is supported by his partner, a nursery nurse who is now in debt due to the pressure of providing for both of them.

Maiyale, who joined the King's Own Scottish Border's battalion and then the Royal Regiment of Scotland and took part in tours of Helmand Province in Afghanistan and Basra in Iraq, as well as the Falklands and Northern Ireland, is now homeless and forced to sign off at his local police station every fortnight.

He said: "I was recruited in Fiji when I was just 22. It got me a job. But it was tough going to Iraq and Afghanistan; it was scary. As far as I was concerned though I would still be entitled to citizenship. I had been living in Edinburgh for nine years.

"I applied for leave to remain but they kept on asking for evidence, and then it was rejected. I can't put into words how that made me feel. I feel betrayed, that I was brought here on false promises. I feel like I've been used. I'm only getting by with the help of my girlfriend; she pays for food, rent, everything. It's very frustrating."

Forced to leave their bedsit after Maiyale was violently attacked by a fellow resident, the couple who are living in homeless accommodation have been told Maiyale will need to pay his way to remain there because of his immigration status.

His MP Joanna Cherry, SNP spokeswoman for Justice and Home Affairs, is now calling on the Home Office to reverse its decision and grant him leave to remain.

She said Maiyale's situation was "far from unique" and that more needed to be done to address the issue. In recent years several former Commonwealth soldiers have found themselves facing deportation.

She said: "Any situation where service men and woman are denied the right to remain and the right to work in their country of service is deeply concerning and must be very closely scrutinised.

"The treatment of my constituent, Sam Maiyale, as well cases such as that of Filimone Lacanivalu and Bale Baleiwai highlight the need for the Home Office to help not hinder foreign and commonwealth soldiers in their post-service lives.

"It is crucial that the circumstances of this case, which are unfortunately not unique to Sam, do not go unnoticed."

Dr Hugh Milroy, chief executive with Veteran's Aid, said that the charity it had worked closely with the Home Office in recent years to highlight the issue leading to a change in the rules which meant those all veterans discharged should be allowed to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. This can now be done in advance of leaving the army.

However, he said Veteran's Aid continued to work with former soldiers on a weekly basis, particular those whose cases pre-dated 2013, when the rules changed. The issue, he says remains a "political hot potato".

He added: "It can be very complex. The army could do more to support people and provide more of a hand-holding service, as well as looking at lowering the cost, which can be prohibitive when you are on a solider's wage." Currently the cost of applying for leave to remain is about £1,500.

A spokesman for the Home Office, said: "All applications for leave to remain in the UK are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.”

The British Army declined to comment.

Edited by Elaine - 06 Mar 2016 at 9:48am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 May 2016 at 6:33pm
British army recruitment re-opened in Fiji

4:51 pm GMT+12, 24/05/2016, Fiji

The British Army is resuming recruitment of Fijian soldiers after a lapse of nine years.

Fijians have a long and proud history in the British Armed Forces having made their mark in some of the most volatile parts of the world, including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

British High Commissioner to Fiji Roderick Drummond says there are 200 positions available; mostly for specialised technicians.

“So we’ve opened up a space for recruitment for two hundred people across the ’whole of Commonwealth, in particular specialised fields which we have shortages in our recruitment. These are mostly technical fields that may create some opportunities for young Fijian men and women who would like to pursue that.”

More than 1,400 Fijian soldiers are currently serving under the commonwealth banner.

Meanwhile, Fijian soldiers in the British Army have donated more than $43,000 (US$20,328) to the Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) to assist in the response of tropical cyclone Winston.

British high Commissioner Roderick Drummond presented the cheque Tuesday to Fiji Red Cross Director General, Filipe Nainoca.

He says the donation was made from people in the United Kingdom, Germany and Cyprus.

“A whole variety of different organisations in the UK have been raising funds in different ways to play their part and contribute to the effects of cyclone Winston. Including those in the British army together with their friends and a wider community of people who are interested and touched by Fiji has given $43,300 (US$20,470) which I think is a very worthy effort.”

More assistance from the Fijian British Army will be expected as efforts of dispatching containers with relief items are underway.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2017 at 1:03pm
A Fijian father-of-two who served in the British Army for 12 years has been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Sam Cataki, 36, claimed he was told that he was no longer legally permitted to work while his application for indefinite leave to remain was being considered by the Home Office.

But less than a week after his campaign hit the headlines, Sam was told he could return to work and now the Home Office has confirmed that his application has now been approved and he has been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Sam, who lives in Neyland, Pembrokeshire , with his family, was posted to Brawdy in 2007, while he was still in the Army, and remained in the area after leaving the forces.

The rugby player said he joined when the British Army recruited in Fiji in 2001, arriving in the UK the following year aged 20.

Her served for 12 years in the Royal Army Dental Corps as a dental support specialist.
His wife Seini, also from Fiji, who works at a nursing home, joined him in the UK in 2011 after they got married in December 2010.

The couple have two children; Mesake, aged five, and one-year-old Jared.

The Home Office has also confirmed that an application for Seini Ravu to indefinitely remain in the UK is currently under consideration.

Sam said he applied for British citizenship in 2013 just before he left the forces, and believes the application was unsuccessful because he had three points on his driving licence.

After reapplying for citizenship in September 2016 he was advised to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK instead, which he then did in February this year.

He said he received the news about his green light just days after returning to work at Milford Haven Port Authority, where he has worked as a search team operative at Pembroke since November 2014.

More than 34,000 people signed an online petition supporting the father-of-two, while Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, Stephen Crabb also threw his support behind the campaign.

Sam said: “On Friday I received the letter confirming it. I’m really happy.

“The petition is still on. People are still signing it!

“I’m really happy with the support that I’ve got from people.

“It’s all I wanted was for them to grant it for me to be able to work and provide for my family.”

On the support he’s received at work, he said: “They’ve been really helpful.”

Sam wanted to thank all those who had supported him and his family.

“If only I could just thank them individually. Thank you for the support.

“The people here in Pembrokeshire have accepted me like one of their own, which makes a big difference in fighting for this.”

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Apr 2018 at 10:03am
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