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UK Ancestry Visa

The UK Ancestry visa is a type of visa that allows Commonwealth and British Overseas citizens with a grandparent who was born in the UK (or the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) to live, work and study in the UK.

Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or complete our enquiry form to discuss your UK Ancestry Visa application.

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What is a UK ancestry visa?

The UK Ancestry visa is for Commonwealth and British Overseas citizens and nationals with a grandparent who was born in the UK (or the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man). Holders can live, work, and study in the UK and bring their dependant family members with them. Once granted, the UK Ancestry visa allows holders to stay in the UK for an initial period of 5 years. After the initial 5-year period, Ancestry visa holders can apply for indefinite leave to remain (also known as ILR or permanent settlement).

UK Ancestry Visa eligibility requirements

To be eligible for a UK Ancestry visa, you must:

  • Be aged 17 or over
  • Be a Commonwealth citizen, British overseas citizen, British overseas territories citizen, a British national (overseas), or a citizen of Zimbabwe
  • Apply from outside the UK
  • Be able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man
  • Plan to work in the UK
  • Have enough money without help from public funds to support and house yourself and any dependants

Commonwealth countries

Commonwealth countries include any of the following:

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.

UK Ancestry grandparent requirement

UK Ancestry visa applicants must be able to prove that at least one of their grandparents was born:

  • On a British-registered aircraft or ship, or
  • In the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, or
  • Prior to the 31st of March 1922, in what is now known as the Republic of Ireland.

An individual can also apply for the UK Ancestry Visa if they or their parents (through whom they are claiming ancestry) are adopted. In this case, applicants need to include in their application form evidence of legal adoption. It should be noted, however, that it is not possible to apply for a UK Ancestry visa through step-parents.

UK Ancestry Visa financial requirement

According to the Home Office UK ancestry visa guidance, there are no set amount of funds that an Ancestry visa applicant must hold. Rather they must be able to prove that they can maintain and accommodate themselves and any family members coming with them without the need to request public funds.

Dependants of a person with a UK Ancestry Visa

With an Ancestry visa, you can also bring your eligible family members with you to the UK. The UK immigration rules define a dependant as a partner or child of the main applicant. Please note that only children below the age of 18 can apply as dependants.

How to apply for a UK Ancestry Visa

The application process for the UK Ancestry visa is as follows:

  1. Complete the online1 Ancestry visa application form – this must be done before traveling 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
  2. Upload any documents required to support your case (see below for more details on the types of documents you may need to provide)
  3. Pay the application fees, healthcare surcharge, and BRP fee (see below for more information)
  4. Book an appointment with a visa application centre in the country where you are located. The appointment is needed to enroll your biometrics (your photo and fingerprints) which are then used for your biometric residence permit (BRP).

You can expect to receive a decision on your application within 3 weeks.

Documents required for UK Ancestry Visa

As part of the UK Ancestry visa application process, you will be asked to provide a number of documents and items of evidence to support your case. 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 your parent and grandparent on which your UK Ancestry visa claim is based
  • evidence that you plan to work in the UK – this may take the form of a job offer or a business plan if you will be self-employed
  • evidence to prove you can support yourself and your dependant family members in the UK – this may include a bank statement. This must be dated within 31 days from the date of submission of your application.
  • If your parents or grandparents have changed their name since birth, suitable evidence of this change, such as a marriage certificate or a deed poll
  • legal adoption papers if your parents were adopted
  • TB test certificate (depends on which country you are coming from)
  • your marriage certificate or civil partnership document if your spouse or civil partner will be joining you

Please note that the required documents may vary based individual circumstances, we understand that it can be difficult to obtain certain evidence you need to support your UK Ancestry visa. If you need the service from our immigration solicitors, please contact our immigration lawyers on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

UK Ancestry Visa cost

The application fee for the British Ancestor visa is £531. Applicants must also pay the NHS healthcare surcharge and a biometric residence permit (BRP) fee of £19.20.

NHS healthcare surcharge

Applicants also need to pay the NHS healthcare surcharge upfront. This is currently £624 per year for each adult and £470 per year for those under 18. The NHS healthcare surcharge allows Ancestry visa holders and their dependant family members to use the UK’s National Health Service.

Fast Track Option

Depending on the services available at your local visa application centre, you may be able to pay an additional fee of £500 for the priority service (for a decision within 5 working days) or £800 for the super-priority services (for a decision by the end of the next working day). This compares to the 3 weeks processing time for the standard application process.

What you can and can’t do on a UK Ancestry Visa

With a British Ancestor visa, you can:

  • work freely for any employer and in any role
  • study
  • bring your immediate family members

You cannot:

  • switch to this visa if already in the UK on another type of visa
  • apply to access public funds (such as welfare benefits)

How long can you be out of the UK on an Ancestry visa?

If you plan to apply for ILR, you will need to prove that you have been in the UK for 5 continuous years. This means that you have spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in any year during that 5 year period. In addition, it is important to remember that applicants must genuinely intend to work while in the UK. As such, spending large amounts of time outside the UK may suggest that this is not your intention and may jeopardise your visa.

UK Ancestry Visa Extension / Renewal

You can apply online to renew or extend your UK ancestry visa prior to the expiration of your current leave if you intend to stay for longer than the initial 5-year period. UK ancestry visa renewal and extension is for those who cannot or do not intend to apply for Indefinite Leave to remain after 5 years of continuous residency in the UK. This might be a result of unspent criminal convictions.

To extend your Ancestry visa UK, you must do this before your current visa expires. You can also include your dependant family members if they are applying at the same time.

The rules state that the Ancestry visa UK can be extended as many times as required, as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

The fee to extend your Ancestry visa is £1,048, and applicants must also pay the NHS healthcare surcharge.

UK Ancestry Visa to ILR and British citizen

You can apply for ILR after 5 years continuous residence in the UK under the Ancestry Visa. It should be noted that ILR is not automatically granted, rather you will need to submit a full ILR application. After spending at least 12 months in the UK after receiving ILR, you will be able to apply to become a British citizen.

The application for ILR is completed online2 and it is advisable not to apply more than 28 days before your current visa expires. You will also need to arrange an appointment with your local UKVCAS office to have your photo taken and your signature and fingerprints scanned (also referred to as your biometric information).

To be eligible for ILR, you will need to prove:

  • you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your dependants
  • you intend to work in the UK
  • you are still a Commonwealth citizen
  • you have passed the Knowledge of language and life in the UK
  • you meet the English language requirement (e.g. by having a CEFR English qualification with at least level B1 in speaking and listening)

When submitting your application for ILR, you will need to provide evidence that while on an Ancestry visa UK for the past 5 years, you have been actively working or genuinely seeking work during the 5 years of your visa.

UK Ancestry Visa application declined

UK Ancestry visa applications may be refused for a number of reasons, including where:

  • insufficient evidence is provided to prove that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements
  • the applicant has unspent criminal convictions
  • the correct fees are not paid
  • the applicant does not respond to requests for additional information from UKVI

If you receive a refusal of your UK Ancestry visa, the main options to consider are:

  • apply for an administrative review – if you believe a mistake was made by the Home Office
  • make a new application
  • apply for a different type of visa (e.g. a spouse visa)

Our immigration lawyers can advise and represent you if your application has been refused. Based on the reason for refusal, we will recommend the next best steps to take to ensure a successful outcome of your application. Contact our immigration lawyers on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

References:

1 GOV.UK: Online application form for Ancestry visa

2 GOV.UK: Online application form for ILR

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O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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