The UK Ancestry Visa is a 5-year settlement visa that allows Commonwealth Citizens permission to live and work in the UK if they can prove they have a grandparent born in the UK or Islands. Applicants must be at least 17 on their intended arrival in the UK, and there is no upper age limit for this route.
You must apply online for a UK Ancestry visa before you travel to the UK. Eligible individuals can accompany their partner and dependant children and undertake any work in the UK.
This post explores the requirements of a UK Ancestry Visa Application under the Immigration Rules: Appendix UK Ancestry.
UK Ancestry Visa Rules
The UK Ancestry Visa allows you to undertake any work in the UK for 60 months. You will not need a confirmed job offer when you apply. However, you must prove that you can and intend to work in the UK.
As a UK Ancestry Visa holder, you can bring your partner or child to join you in the UK. You must prove that you can support yourself and any family members joining you in the UK, as access to public funds is not permitted.
If your Ancestry visa is granted, you will be issued ‘leave to enter’ the UK. After five years, you can apply for ‘limited leave to remain’ to extend your stay under the same route. Or, after completing the qualifying period, you may apply for settlement. To qualify for UK Ancestry Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), you will need to be continuously living in the UK and prove that you are either employed at the time of your application or have worked throughout the five years. The visa does not prevent the holder from undertaking study. However, the holder should also be working to stay within the visa conditions.
Unfortunately, you cannot switch to the UK Ancestry route from within the UK as you must have entered the UK with valid UK Ancestry entry clearance.
You can take up the following type of work while on a UK Ancestry Visa in the United Kingdom:
- Paid and unpaid employment
- Paid and unpaid work placements undertaken as part of a course or period of study
- Business or any professional activity.
Proving UK Ancestry
You must submit enough evidence to prove you have a grandparent born in the UK or Islands. Documentary evidence may typically include:
- Your full birth certificate showing the name of both of your parents
- The full birth certificate of the parent through whom you are claiming a UK ancestry link
- The birth certificate of the relevant grandparent that clearly shows that they were born in the UK or Islands
- Legal adoption papers if the applicant, or the applicant’s relevant parent, was adopted
- If you, your parent or your grandparent has changed their name since birth, relevant evidence of this – for example, a marriage or civil partnership certificate or deed poll.
Ancestry Visa Eligibility Requirements
The main requirements for the UK Ancestry Visa Route are:
- You are aged 17 or over
- You can and intend to work in the UK
- Your grandparent was born in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands (Bailiwick of Guernsey, Bailiwick of Jersey), Isle of Man or Ireland (before 31 March 1922)
- You are a citizen of a Commonwealth citizen, a British overseas citizen, a British overseas territories citizen, a British national (overseas) or a citizen of Zimbabwe
- You must not fall for refusal under Part 9: grounds for refusal of the Immigration Rules
- You can support yourself (and your dependents, if any) in the UK without recourse to public funds
- You have applied online from outside the UK on the correct specified application form
- You have paid the correct application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge.
Grandparents include blood-related grandparents or grandparents because of adoption. If you are under 18 at the time of application, you must have the consent of your parents or legal guardian to the application being made, your living arrangements in, and travel to, the UK.
To discuss your UK Ancestry Visa application with an experienced immigration adviser, contact our team on 0208 757 5751 or complete our contact form.
Commonwealth Citizenship Requirement
You must prove with a valid passport or travel document that you are a citizen of a Commonwealth country such as South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, or Cyprus. You do not have to have been a Commonwealth citizen from birth – you can qualify if, for example, you have recently naturalised as a Commonwealth citizen.
Financial Requirement for UK Ancestry Visa
Applicants must prove that they meet the financial requirement, which means they need to have enough money to support and accommodate themselves and any family members in the UK. There is no specific figure on what funds are required, and it depends on the applicant’s circumstances.
If funds, savings or income were earned or acquired when the applicant was in the UK, they must have been earned or acquired lawfully while the applicant had permission and was not in breach of any conditions attached to that permission. Applicants can rely on credible support from a third party (for example, a relative or friend) to meet the UK Ancestry Visa financial requirement.
Funds held in other accounts or financial instruments such as shares, bonds, credit cards, and pensions from which the funds cannot be withdrawn immediately will not be accepted as funds meeting the financial requirement.
If you plan to undertake unpaid voluntary work, you will need to prove that you can maintain and accommodate yourself (and any family members) without a regular income.
Ancestry Visa Work Requirement
When applying for the UK Ancestry route, you must prove that you can work and intend to seek and take employment in the UK. Evidence of employment could include, but is not limited to:
- Job offers from UK employers
- Evidence of previous work history (in any country) or relevant qualifications
- Evidence of registration with a UK recruitment agency
- Evidence of any steps you have undertaken to improve your chances of finding work – for example, relevant training courses
- A business plan if you are self-employed.
Before your application, you will need a TB Test Certificate if you have lived for more than six months in one of the specified countries.
You must provide a valid medical certificate issued by a Home Office-approved medical practitioner with your application. This certificate must confirm you have been screened for active pulmonary tuberculosis and that you are clear of TB.
UK Ancestry Visa Dependants
The following family members are eligible to apply along with the principal applicant on the UK Ancestry Route:
- The Spouse, Civil Partner or Unmarried Partner (providing you have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years) of a person with UK Ancestry
- The dependent child under 18 or children of a person with UK Ancestry (or of that person’s partner)
If partners are unmarried, they must have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years before the date of application, and any previous relationships must have broken down. The relationship between the couple must be genuine and subsisting, and they must intend to live together in the UK throughout their Ancestry Visa.
When applying for a dependant child, suitable arrangements for the child’s care and accommodation in the UK must comply with relevant UKVI legislation and regulations.
How to apply for the UK Ancestry Visa?
To make a valid application, you will need to:
- Meet the eligibility requirements as stated above
- Apply online on the correct specified application form on the gov.uk website
- Submit your supporting documentation, including evidence of being a commonwealth citizen
- Provide a passport or travel document which establishes your identity and nationality
- Pay the correct application fee
- Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge
- Submit your biometric information
The earliest you can apply is three months before you travel.
Documents for UK Ancestry Visa Application
The supporting documents required in your application will depend on your circumstances. You will need the following:
- Your current passport or valid travel document
- The full birth certificates of the parent and grandparent that form the basis of your Ancestry claim
- If you or your parents were adopted, then you will need to provide legal adoption papers
- Work-related evidence proving your intention to work in the UK, such as a job offer letter or business plan if you are self-employed
- Financial evidence such as bank statements that prove that you can support yourself and any dependants in the UK
- Your marriage certificate or civil partnership registration document if your spouse or civil partner wants to join you in the UK.
UK Ancestry Visa Application Fees
The Ancestry Visa application cost is £531, and usually, a decision is given within three weeks. If eligibility is not clear from the documentation provided, the Home Office may request additional documentation, which will add to the time it takes to decide. There is also an additional cost for the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is £624 per year. As the Ancestry Visa is granted for five years, this works out as an additional £3,120.
Extending UK Ancestry Visa
A person with permission on the UK Ancestry route does not have to be continuously employed while in the UK to qualify for further permission to stay. You will need to prove that you have been working or intend to work in the UK. There is no requirement to be employed when applying to extend your visa.
UK Ancestry Settlement (ILR) Application
To qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the UK Ancestry route, you must prove that you have lived in the UK for the 5-year qualifying period and continue to meet the validity, suitability and eligibility criteria. You will need to pass the Life in the UK test and prove your knowledge of English up to the required level as part of the settlement application. If you are unemployed at the date of application, you will prove that you can work and intend to seek and take employment in the UK.
Dependants can qualify for settlement on this route as soon as the person with UK Ancestry has been granted settlement – they do not have to complete a specific qualifying period on the UK Ancestry route or even have previously been granted on this route. For example, if a person was previously granted permission as a Skilled Worker and subsequently marries a person who has been granted settlement on the UK Ancestry route, they may be eligible for settlement as the partner of a person with UK Ancestry.
UK Ancestry Visa Advice
Our UK Immigration lawyers can provide a no-obligation assessment of your prospects of qualifying for an Ancestry Visa or professional advice or assistance with preparing an Ancestry Visa application.
At Whytecroft Ford, we know that accurate and timely advice could make all the difference in the world. We are a highly driven professional team that provides clear and reliable immigration advice to individuals applying for a UK Ancestry Visa. We apply our extensive knowledge and expertise to assist foreign nationals in relocating and settling in the UK with their families.
Frequently asked questions
After acquiring Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, it is possible for British Citizenship by Naturalisation after meeting the qualifying residence requirements.
Generally, to qualify for Ancestry Visa ILR you must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period.
If you are in the UK on an Ancestry Visa, you can get married without additional immigration permissions.
With the Ancestry Visa, you can undertake any paid or unpaid work. You must be able to support yourself without public funds if you plan to undertake unpaid voluntary work.