What Does a UK Ancestry Visa Entitle Me To?
Over the many years of our operation, we have been surprised at how many migrants to the UK were not aware of their rights to an Ancestry visa due to where they or their grandparents were born. Indeed, it is always exciting and rewarding to explain to a person applying for a visa that they are eligible for an Ancestry visa. In this article, we will explain the benefits of holding a UK Ancestry visa, the eligibility rules, and the documents you will need to provide to support your application.
What Does A UK Ancestry Visa Entitle Me To?
While UK Ancestry visa holders are still subject to immigration control and not classed as permanent residents initially, they have considerable freedom in the UK. With an Ancestry visa, it is possible to live, work, study, and bring your dependant family members with you for an initial period of five years. There are considerable benefits of holding a UK Ancestry visa compared to a work or study visa. From a work perspective, you can work for any employer, not just licensed sponsors. This widens the range of potential employers enormously. You will also not be restricted in terms of the number of employers you have, the type of work you do, or whether you wish to change employers in the future. You can also mix work and study with no limitations. Additionally, you will not be required to prove you have a job at a certain skill level (i.e. RQF level 3 or above), and there are no minimum salary requirements to meet.
What Restrictions Apply For UK Ancestry Visa Holders?
There are few immigration restrictions for UK Ancestry visa holders. Firstly, until you have permanent residency, you will not be permitted to apply for access to public funds (i.e. government benefits). It is also not possible to switch ‘in-country’ to a UK Ancestry visa from another visa type. In practical terms, this simply means it is not possible to apply for the visa from within the UK; rather, you will need to leave the UK in order to submit your application.
Can I Apply For Permanent Residency If I Have An Ancestry Visa?
Towards the end of your initial five year period, you will have four options available:
- Leave the UK
- Apply for a different visa type
- Extend your Ancestry visa
- Apply for settlement (referred to as indefinite leave to remain - ILR).
Most migrants who plan to remain in the UK will apply for ILR at the end of their initial five years (technically, they will need to apply before the five years expires to avoid being an ‘overstayer’). A major benefit of applying for ILR is that there is no requirement to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge (£624 per year per person).
What Are The Eligibility Criteria For An Ancestry Visa?
There are two parts to the eligibility criteria for an Ancestry visa. The first part relates to age and funds to support yourself, and the second is about your ancestry.
To be eligible to apply for an Ancestry visa, you must be at least 17 years old and have sufficient funds to support yourself while in the UK, without needing to apply for access to public funds for you and your dependant family members. The immigration rules also specify that applicants should be able to work and plan to work when in the UK.
In addition to the general requirements above, the immigration requirements for an Ancestry visa state that applicants must:
- Be from a Commonwealth citizen, and;
- Be able to prove they have at least one grandparent who was born 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
You will still be able to claim ancestry if you or your parent were adopted or if your parents or grandparents were not married. It is not possible, however, to apply for a UK Ancestry visa through the ancestry of your step-parents. If you are in any way unsure if you are eligible for an Ancestry visa, it is always recommended to speak to an immigration Solicitor who can quickly confirm this for you.
Which Documents Will I Need To Provide To Support My Application?
Providing the correct documents is key to an Ancestry visa application, as you will need to provide clear evidence of your eligibility. In addition to your own passport and birth certificate, you will also need to provide the full birth certificate of the parent and grandparent on which your application is based. You will also need to provide some evidence that you plan to work in the UK (e.g. a job offer or business plan). A bank statement showing you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your dependants should also be provided. You may also need to provide (where applicable):
- evidence that your parents or grandparents have changed their name since birth, for example, marriage or civil partnership certificates or a deed poll
- 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
Applying for an Ancestry visa is a relatively straightforward process if you have the necessary evidence to demonstrate your eligibility. If you have immediate family members (i.e. your partner and children under 18), they will need to make a separate application as your dependant/s. We wish you all the best with your Ancestry visa application and your life in the UK.