The UK ancestry route is available for Commonwealth citizens aged 17 years or older who are interested in living in the UK and have a grandparent born in the UK or Islands. A UK ancestry visa offers the opportunity for qualified individuals to reside and work in the UK for an initial period of 5 years.
You may be eligible to apply for a UK ancestry visa if you fall into any of the following categories:
- Commonwealth citizen
- British overseas citizen
- British Overseas Territories citizen
- British national (overseas)
- British subject
- Citizen of Zimbabwe
In general terms, you must also provide evidence that one of your grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man, and meet other eligibility requirements.
Regarding the work requirement, it is not mandatory to be employed at the time of applying for an Ancestry Visa. However, you must demonstrate the ability and intention to work in the UK. This means presenting documentation that genuinely shows your intention to seek employment in the UK and your realistic prospects of finding work.
Consequently, you will either need a job offer from a UK employer or, if you plan to be self-employed, a business plan for self-employment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to apply for a UK ancestry visa?
This involves completing the online application form with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the division of the Home Office responsible for the United Kingdom’s visa system.
Can I switch to this category?
You cannot switch into this visa category if you are already in the UK on another type of visa, you must be overseas to make your application.
What supporting documents do I need to submit?
When submitting your application for an ancestry visa, in addition to providing your current passport or valid travel document, you will need to provide various documents in support to demonstrate that you satisfy the eligibility criteria. Depending on your circumstances and the basis of your eligibility, these documents could include:
- your full birth certificate.
- the birth certificates of the parent and grandparent that your ancestry claim is based on.
- the marriage certificates for your parents and grandparents if they were married.
- legal adoption papers if you or the parent that your ancestry claim is based on adopted.
- proof you are planning to work in the UK, such as any job offers or a business plan.
- recent bank statements to show that you have enough money to support yourself, dated no more than 31 days before the date of application for entry clearance, or credible evidence of the promise of financial support from a relative or friend.
- any tuberculosis test results, if from a listed country.
How much does a UK ancestry visa application cost?
The Home Office application fee for a UK ancestry visa is £637.
Depending on which country you are applying from, you may be able to pay an additional fee to get your visa processed faster. You will need to check with your visa application centre as to what priority services are available.
You will also be liable to pay an immigration health surcharge to be able to access the UK’s NHS. This is calculated on an annual basis, payable upfront, for the length of your visa.
How long does a UK ancestry visa application take?
The earliest that you can apply for an ancestry visa is 3 months before you travel.
Having submitted your application and supporting documentation for a UK ancestry visa, and enrolled any biometric information, a decision will usually be made within 3 weeks.
You may be able to pay for a faster decision, which you will be told when you apply.
Can you bring family on the UK ancestry route?
If your UK ancestry visa is approved, eligible family members can join you in the UK. They must provide evidence of their relationship with you and apply separately, paying the application fee and healthcare surcharge. They will have the same period of leave as the main applicant and can work. Your partner can switch their visa category if already in the UK, except if they were last granted entry clearance as a visitor or short-term student, or if they were granted temporary admission or release.
What if my ancestry visa application is refused?
If your Ancestry Visa application is refused, you can request an Administrative Review from UKVI if you believe the initial decision was incorrect. However, if your application was refused due to not meeting eligibility criteria or providing necessary documentation, it is unlikely to be overturned. Seek professional advice to explore your options for challenging the Home Office's decision or considering a different immigration route.
How long can you be out of the UK on an Ancestry Visa?
If you leave the UK and your ancestry visa expires, you can apply for a new visa from your home country. Remember also that if you want to apply for ILR, you must not have excessive absences from the UK.
Does the UK ancestry visa lead to settlement in the UK?
The UK ancestry visa leads to settlement in the UK, known as indefinite leave, to remain (ILR), allowing you to permanently settle without time restrictions. You can apply for ILR after living in the UK for 5 years as a UK ancestry visa-holder and meet language, life in the UK, and financial requirements.
How much do you need in your account for a UK ancestry visa?
To be eligible for a UK ancestry visa, there is no set level of funds that you must hold. However, you must be able to show you can maintain and accommodate yourself, and any dependants, without access to public funds.
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