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What are the Requirements for the UK Ancestry Visa Application?

Each year, thousands of migrants from around the world decide to make the UK their new home. UK Visas and Immigration offers a wide range of immigration options catering for different needs, including study, work, investment, and family visas, however, there are other options to consider. One which many are not aware of is the UK Ancestry visa, which enables certain foreign nationals to stay for up to five years depending on where they were born. And after the qualifying period of five years of continuous residence in the UK, Ancestry visa holders can then apply for permanent residency. In this article, we will outline the eligibility requirements for the UK Ancestry visa, the application process, and the documents which need to be provided.

Am I eligible for the UK Ancestry visa?

The eligibility rules state that applicants must meet all the following criteria:

  • Be aged 17 or over
  • Be a Commonwealth citizen
  • Have a grandparent who was born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • Be able and plan to work in the UK
  • Have enough money to support yourself and any dependents (i.e. children and partner).

The Ancestry visa is specifically restricted to applicants from a Commonwealth country; these include:

Botswana, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Kingdom of Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Cyprus, Malta, United Kingdom, Pacific, Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

The rules state that you must be able to prove that you have a grandparent born either:

  • in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, or;
  • before 31 March 1922 in what is now Ireland, or;
  • on a ship or aircraft that was either registered in the UK or belonged to the UK government

It is also possible to apply if you or your parent were adopted and your parents or grandparents were not married. Unfortunately, it is not possible to acquire ancestry on the basis of step-parents.

Can I bring my partner and children with me to the UK on an Ancestry visa?

Yes, if you are eligible for an Ancestry visa, you can bring your eligible dependants with you, including your partner/spouse and any children under the age of 18. For a partner to apply, you must be in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK, or if not, have been living together in a relationship for at least two years prior to applying. When applying for your children, it is important to show that they are not living an independent life; this means they must be living with you (unless they’re in full-time education at boarding school, college or university), not be married, in a civil partnership or have any children, and be supported by you (and not accessing public funds such as benefits).

How do I apply for an Ancestry visa for the UK?

The UKVI rules advise that candidates must apply online for their Ancestry visa before travelling to the UK (the earliest is three months before you travel to the UK). Each of your dependents will need to make a separate application to join you in the UK.

As part of the online application process, you will need to enter the details requested on the form and book an appointment with a visa application centre. The appointment is needed to enrol your biometrics (your photo and fingerprints) which are then used for your biometric residence permit (BRP).

In addition to providing information in the application form and your biometrics, you will also be asked to supply several documents to prove your eligibility for an Ancestry visa. You will be told which documents to send; these may include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • your current passport or another suitable travel document
  • your full birth certificate
  • the full birth certificates of the parent and grandparent your ancestry claim is based on
  • evidence that you’re planning to work in the UK – this may include job offers you’ve received or a business plan if you’re self-employed
  • evidence, such as bank statements, that prove you can support yourself and any dependants in the UK (dated within 31 days from when you submit your application)
  • evidence that your parents or grandparents have changed their name since birth, for example, marriage or civil partnership certificates or a deed poll if applicable
  • legal adoption papers if you or your parents are adopted
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take a TB test
  • your marriage certificate or civil partnership registration document if your spouse or civil partner wants to join you in the UK

At the time of writing, the application fee for the Ancestry visa is £516. Applicants also need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge upfront (allowing access to use the National Health Service) – this is currently £624 per year for each adult and £470 per year for those under 18.

If successful, you will be able to live, work, and study in the UK, however, you will not be able to access public funds until you become a permanent resident.

Final words

The key to preparing a successful application for a UK Ancestry visa is proving that you were born in an eligible country, you have a grandparent who was born in the UK (or the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man), and that you intend to work once you are here. If you are unsure if you have sufficient evidence to meet the requirements, it is advisable to check with an immigration Solicitor in the UK before you submit your application and pay the fees. Doing so will give you the reassurance and peace of mind that you are eligible and that you have provided all the documentation necessary to secure your Ancestry visa. We wish you all the best with your application.

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