Published on DailyMail.uk
Defence officials have relaxed the rules for Commonwealth recruits wanting to serve as part of the Army, Navy and RAF.
Under current rules they can only join the military if they had lived in the UK for five years.
Defence Minister Penny Mordaunt has waived the residency requirements to allow 200 Commonwealth citizens to fill roles in regular forces every year.
They will fill the gap in troops with specialist skills, such as engineering.
The u-turn comes as staggering statistics published yesterday revealed there had been a drop in the regular armed forces of 3,680 troops since April last year.
In a written statement today, Miss Mordaunt said there was a ‘long tradition’ of soldiers from Commonwealth nations serving in the British military.
She said: ‘We continue to value their service which provides an important contribution in defending the UK at home and abroad.
Baroness Judith Jolly said: ‘We fully support the long tradition of Commonwealth citizens serving in the British Armed Forces, but if we are relying on foreign recruits to meet shortfalls at home that is of serious concern.
The Lib Dem defence spokesperson added: ‘The Ministry of Defence needs to clarify which specialist positions are part of these 200 new recruits per year, offer an explanation as to why we are failing to recruit from within the UK, and explain what their long term plan is to upskill our own workforce to fill these positions in the future.’
In 2013, soldiers from Commonwealth countries were banned from joining the Armed Forces unless they had lived here for five years.