British ministers are expected to announce on Monday that the Ministry of Defence will remove the need for Commonwealth citizens to have lived in Britain for five years before applying for service, as the armed forces struggle to recruit enough personnel to fill a shortfall in their ranks.
The UK hopes to enlist an extra 1,350 personnel every year from countries including Australia, India and Canada.
The navy and air force will commence the process immediately, while the British army will begin admissions from early next year, according to the Press Association.
People from nations outside the Commonwealth, except for Nepalese Gurkhas and applicants from the Republic of Ireland, will still require British citizenship in order to be accepted.
In May 2016, the MOD waived residency requirements to allow for 200 Commonwealth citizens per annum to be recruited to fill “a limited number of roles in the Regular Armed Forces which require specialist skills.”
But in April this year, a National Audit Office report found the full-time military was running at a 5.7 per cent shortfall.
An extra 8,200 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.