What is an Ancestry Visa?
You may be eligible for a UK Ancestry Visa if you are a commonwealth citizen and you have one grandparent born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man.
A UK Ancestry Visa will allow you to live and work in the UK for a maximum five-year period, free of restrictions. After the five-year period has ended, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, provided that you meet the relevant criteria to do so. This will allow you to live freely in the UK, with no Ancestry Visa restrictions or immigration rules.
If you feel you may be eligible and wish to apply for a UK Ancestry Visa, our expert immigration law team can assist you with a UK Ancestry Visa advice package. Call Birmingham Immigration Lawyers today on 0121 667 6530 for a chat with one of our friendly advisors.
Who is eligible?
To apply for a UK Ancestry Visa you must be 17 years of age or over. You must also ensure you have sufficient funds to support yourself when you arrive to live in the UK- as you will be unable to access public funds (benefits) whilst you live here on a UK visa.
You must have plans in place to work in the UK. It is your responsibility to ensure that you can carry out the job you plan on doing.
To be eligible for an Ancestry Visa, you must be able to prove your grandparent’s ancestry history. Your grandparent must identify with one of the following scenarios:
- Born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man
- Born before March 1922 in what is now Ireland
- Born on a ship or aircraft that belonged to the UK government or that was registered in the UK at the time of their birth
If you or your parent were adopted you can claim a UK Ancestry Visa, similarly, if your parents or grandparent born in the UK were not married.
To apply for a UK Ancestry Visa, you must be in a position to submit the following supporting documents:
- Your full birth certificate
- Current passport or other valid travel documents (your passport must have a blank page for your new Ancestry Visa)
- Full birth certificate of your parent or grandparent born in the UK (the person who is the basis of your Ancestry Visa claim)
- Evidence to show you are planning on working in the UK- this could be an official job offer from your new employer or a business plan should you be planning to work in the UK on a self-employed basis
- Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependent children when you arrive in the UK- this could be bank statements showing your balance (these must be dated within 31 days of when you submit your visa application)
You may also need to provide the following evidence:
- Legal adoption papers (if you or your parents were adopted)
- Proof of marriage certificates if your spouse wants to join you in the UK
- Results of a Tuberculosis test (if you are from a listed country)
If they aren’t already, your documents must be translated into either English or Welsh before being submitted to the Home Office for approval.
Failure to submit the correct documentation can result in your application becoming severely delayed or even rejected.
How to apply
You can apply for an Ancestry Visa online but filling out the provided Ancestry Visa application form and submitting the requested supporting documents. You are also required to pay the application fee at the time of submitting your form.
After your application has been received, as part of the application process, you will be required to attend an appointment at a Visa application centre to provide the relevant biometric information– which includes photographs and fingerprints.
UK Ancestry Visa applicants can expect to receive a decision within three weeks of applying. However, this time constraint can vary based on how busy the services are at the time.
When you have been granted your Ancestry Visa, you can expect to receive your biometric residence permit soon after. It is very important that you obtain this before the date you intend to enter the UK.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
The UK Ancestry Visa allows a commonwealth citizen to stay and work in the UK for up to five years. After this period, you will likely be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. In order to do so, you must meet the below requirements:
- You have fully satisfied the requirements of your current UK Ancestry Visa
- You have worked for the full five year period you have spent in the UK
- You have not left the UK during the five year period (for more than 90 days)
Indefinite Leave to Remain allows an individual from overseas to live, study, and work indefinitely, completely free of immigration control. After settlement is gained through Indefinite Leave to Remain, the route can lead to applying for British citizenship. The UK Ancestry Visa is a great pathway to gaining more permanent residence in the UK, either visa ILR settlement or British Citizenship (if you come to meet the requirements).
Am I eligible for British Citizenship?
In some instances, those with British ancestors may be eligible to apply for British citizenship. You can register for British citizenship if the following scenarios apply to you:
- You were born in the UK after 1983, to one or more parents who became British citizens after you were born; and
- You lived in the UK until the age of ten years old; or
- You were born outside of the UK to one or more British parents
You can apply to become a British citizen and claim UK ancestry if you meet these requirements.
How much does an Ancestry Visa cost?
UK Ancestry Visa applicants will be required to pay the £516 application fee to be considered for entry clearance into the UK.
As well as the application fee above, those wishing to come to the UK from a commonwealth country will be required to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge for every year they stay in the UK. Applicants can expect to be paying £624 per year.
Payment of the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge allows visa holders to access National Healthcare Service (NHS) amenities as a British citizen would.
Plans to work in the UK
One of the main requirements of a UK Ancestry Visa is that the applicant has a genuine intention of working in the UK during their five-year stay. You must be able to demonstrate this to the Home Office by showing that you have been offered a job, you are looking for a job, or, you have a genuine intention to do so when you are in the UK.
For those hoping to work on a self-employed basis, you should be able to prove this with a solid business in place.
Listed below are some documents that applicants can provide as proof of their desire to work in the country when they are granted a UK Ancestry Visa:
- An official job offer from a UK-based organisation or employer
- Proof of job applications (made via job boards etc)
- Proof of professional qualifications to work in a specified role (training courses, a degree, or, work-related experience)
- A business plan if you plan to work as your own boss in the UK
What can I do with a UK Ancestry Visa?
Compared to various other types of UK visas, the Ancestry Visa is rather non-restrictive to its holders. UK Ancestry Visa holders can do the following:
- Work in the UK
- Study in the UK
- Change job roles or jobs completely
- Bring family members to live with you in the UK
- Extend the visa should you wish to
- Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years of continuous residence
Whilst the visa is fairly lenient in its allowances for holders, those with a UK Ancestry visa are not permitted to access public funds or switch to a different UK visa category. If you make an Ancestry Visa application, you are required to remain on the same one for the full time period.
Children and partners
The partner and children of a UK Ancestry Visa holder can apply to join the main applicant in the UK as dependants. To be eligible as a dependant, you must fit into one of the following categories:
- Partner of the main applicant
- Child of the main applicant (under 18 years of age at the time of the application process taking place)
You must be able to prove your relationship to your partner or civil partner by providing proof of a marriage certificate. For those with an unmarried partner, you must be able to prove that both parties have lived at the same address for at least two years prior to applying.
For a child to be classed as a dependant, they must have lived with the main applicant (unless in full-time, boarding education), not be married or pregnant, and be supported by you without the use of public funds and means-tested benefits
How can Birmingham Immigration Lawyers help?
Applying for a UK Ancestry Visa can be complex. To ensure the application process is as smooth and stress-free as possible, Birmingham Immigration Lawyers are ready and waiting to help.
Our lawyers are experts in the immigration law field and have an extensive track record of helping overseas citizens acquire the UK visa they need. You can use our lawyers’ legal knowledge to your advantage to get your British Ancestry Visa.
For more information on how we can help, call our friendly team of advisors today on 0121 667 6530.
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It can take up to three weeks to receive a decision on your UK Ancestry Visa application. This time frame can vary depending on how busy the services are.
For those looking for a faster decision, you can opt for a priority service which will allow a faster decision to be made on your behalf. However, this can depend on where you are applying from. It could be beneficial to check which services are available in your area.
After the five-year visa period is up, you are eligible to apply to extend your original Ancestry Visa.
Alternatively, should you fit the requirements, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years of continuous living. You must not have spent more than 180 days out of the UK within the last 12 months. In addition, you will be required to pass a Life in the UK test to acquire ILR and live free of immigration control in Great Britain.
Provided that you meet the British Ancestry Visa requirements and you are granted stay in the UK on those grounds, visa holders are able to study in the UK during their time. Universities in the UK will accept an Ancestry Visa as sufficient in the immigration protocols during the application process.
You can apply for a UK Ancestry Visa up to three months before you intended date to move to the UK. Once your application is in, you can expect a response from the Home Office by letter within three weeks of your application and successful biometric information appointment at a visa application centre.