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Understanding the Self-Employment Requirements to Ensure a Successful ILR Application for Ancestry Visa

If you have been living in the UK for five years on an Ancestry visa, congratulations, you can now apply for permanent settlement (also referred to as indefinite leave to remain or ILR). Drafting and submitting an ILR application based on your Ancestry visa requires careful planning and an understanding of the Home Office’s eligibility criteria. In this article, we will take a close look at the rules relating to self-employment when applying for ILR as an Ancestry visa holder.

What Is The UK Ancestry Visa?

The UK Ancestry visa enables those who meet all of the following criteria to live and work in the UK for five years, after which they can apply for settlement:

  • commonwealth citizens
  • with grandparents born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man
  • who are able to and planning to work in the UK
  • and meet the eligibility requirements.

The eligibility rules further explain that applicants must have a grandparent born in one of the following circumstances:

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

It is also possible to apply even if the applicant or their parent was adopted and whether or not the parents or grandparents were married. Unfortunately, it is not possible to claim UK ancestry through step-parents.

Once accepted, Ancestry visa holders are permitted to work, study, and bring their partner or child to the UK. It does not, however, allow holders to switch to a different visa type in the UK or access public funds (this is the ‘no recourse to public funds’ exception).

To settle, you must:

  • have been living and working in the UK for five years with a UK Ancestry visa
  • have spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months of the last five years (this is the ‘continuous residence’ requirement)
  • Pass the Life in the UK Test and meet the English language requirement (only for those aged 18-64).

What Are The Ancestry Visa ILR Eligibility Rules Relating To Employment/Self-Employment?

According to sections 6.1 and 12.1 of the Immigration Rules Appendix UK Ancestry, in order to be eligible for permanent settlement in the UK after five years, Ancestry visa holders must “be able to work and intend to seek and take employment in the UK”. On the application form, Ancestry visa holders are asked whether they intend to work in the UK. An answer of no will lead to an immediate refusal of ILR. The guidance then states, “In all other cases, the applicant must provide evidence that they are either already working or self-employed in the UK or able to work and intend to seek and take employment”. There is no requirement, however, to have been employed or self-employed continuously while in the UK.

It is important to note that if you are considering applying for ILR as an Ancestry visa holder, you do not need to be working, you only need to demonstrate that this is your intention. This may be evidenced by providing evidence of:

  • job offers from UK employers
  • previous work history (in any country) or relevant qualifications
  • applications you have made to UK employers
  • registration with a UK recruitment agency
  • any steps you have undertaken to improve your chances of finding
  • work such as attending a training course
  • a business plan
  • expressions of interest from potential clients (if you intend to be self-employed)

It is also possible to meet this requirement if you are doing unpaid voluntary work.

If I Am Self-Employed, What Do I Need To Provide With My Ancestry ILR Application?

How a case officer considers an Ancestry ILR application will depend on whether the applicant is employed or self-employed. The Home Office guidance tells them, “If the applicant provides satisfactory evidence that they are employed (or self-employed) on the date of application, you must accept that they meet the work requirement unless you have good reason to believe that they will not continue in employment”. To prove that you are currently self-employed, you will need to provide sufficient acceptable evidence of this. The Home Office advises applicants that it will accept any one of the following document types:

  • your most recent tax self-assessment form (SA100) plus evidence of receipt by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • your most recent statement of account (SA300) or tax calculations (SA302) issued
  • by HMRC
  • a company tax return (CT600) for the last financial year and evidence of receipt
  • by HMRC
  • evidence of payment of National Insurance Contributions as a self-employed
  • person – if you applicant pays these by direct debit, they will show on your bank
  • statements as ‘HMRC NI-DD’
  • Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) pay and deduction statements if you are a contractor or subcontractor in the construction industry
  • copies of invoices and receipts of payment for recent work carried out
  • most recent personal or business bank statement, if this clearly shows payments for work carried out as part of your business
  • audited accounts from the last financial year
  • an official letter from a registered accountant which confirms your self-employment and earnings from the last financial year

This list of possible evidence is not exhaustive; the Home Office advises that applicants can use the same types of evidence as contained in the guidance used for EEA permanent residence.

Wrapping Up

The eligibility rules for Ancestry ILR are relatively straightforward and are not difficult to meet when it comes to evidence of self-employment. Only one document of the type listed above is needed. If you need any assistance with your Ancestry settlement application, it is advisable to speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to confirm your eligibility, check or prepare your application, and ensure you have all of the documents needed to satisfy the Home Office of your validity, suitability, and eligibility.

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