UK Ancestry Visa
With an Ancestry Visa, eligible Commonwealth citizens can live and settle in the UK.
We can guide you through your ancestral visa application.
The Ancestry Visa is open to Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
With a UK Ancestry Visa, you can come to the UK to work or study on a temporary basis. After 5 years, you can become eligible for settlement and, after a further 12 months, you can apply to naturalise as a British citizen.
While you will be required to work while in the UK, there are no restrictions on the type of work you can undertake while on the Ancestry Visa. For example, you could be self-employed or start your own business, making the Ancestry Visa a more attractive route into the UK than many other business-related and entrepreneurial visa schemes.
We can help
Securing a UK Ancestry Visa can be life changing. With so much at stake, you will need to ensure you complete the application form correctly and provide all necessary supporting documents to evidence your eligibility.
DavidsonMorris are experienced UK immigration specialists offering guidance and support to individuals in relation to UK Ancestry Visa applications. We can advise on the eligibility criteria you will need to evidence for a UK Ancestry Visa and the process you will need to follow for your application. We can also help where you have dependants applying with you.
For specialist UK immigration advice, contact us.
Ancestry Visa eligibility
The following criteria would need to be met by anyone wanting to apply for a UK ancestral visa:
- You must be a Commonwealth citizen
- You must be applying from outside the UK
- You must be able to prove one of your grandparents was born in the UK
- You are able and intend to work in the UK
- You are aged 17 or over
- You have enough money to support yourself and any dependants while in the UK
In addition to the above, you will need to show that your relevant grandparent was either:
- Born in the UK, including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
- Born before 31 March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland
- Born on a British-registered ship or aircraft
You can also claim ancestry if you or your relevant parent were adopted. UK ancestry cannot, however, be claimed through step-parents.
How to apply for a UK Ancestral Visa
Applications are made completing the online form and submitting supporting documents in your home country. You will also need to pay the relevant visa processing fee.
You will also be required to submit biometric information at a visa application centre.
Visa processing times can vary between embassies, but for postal applications, you should expect a decision in around 8 weeks. In-person applications are generally decided on a same-day basis.
Eligibility for the UK Ancestry Visa under the intention to work and financial support requirements are not always straightforward. While each case will be taken on its own merit, taking professional advice to help compile and submit your application will help ensure you present a comprehensive case to the Embassy.
How long does the UK Ancestry Visa last?
The maximum amount of time a person can spend in the UK on an Ancestry visa is 5 years. After this, you should be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain, providing you meet all the requirements, for example:
- You continue to satisfy the requirements of the UK ancestry visa
- You have spent a period of five continuous years in the UK
- You have worked throughout that five year period
- You have not spent more than 90 days each year outside the UK during this qualifying period
If you don’t qualify for ILR or do not wish to apply for ILR, it is possible to apply to extend Ancestry Visa status.
How much does the UK Ancestry Visa cost?
The fee to apply for entry clearance with a UK ancestry visa is £516.
In addition to the visa application fee, you will also have to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS) as part of your application to allow you to use the National Health Service once living in the UK.
The IHS will be calculated on the basis of how much leave is granted, typically at a rate of £624 per year.
How long is processing for the UK ancestry visa?
Ordinarily, application decisions are given within a matter of weeks, although applicants are advised to confirm processing times when making their application as COVID may impact processing operations.
Premium services for faster processing may also be available for an additional fee and depending on what country you are applying from. Availability of priority services are COVID-dependant.
Can my partner and family join me in the UK?
Under an Ancestry Visa, you will be permitted to bring certain family members to live with you in the UK, including your unmarried partner, spouse, civil partner and dependent minor children.
They will usually be granted the same period of leave as the main visa applicant and can also take up employment.
For dependants to apply with you, you must show:
- There will be adequate accommodation for both you and your partner, without recourse to public funds, that you own or occupy exclusively
- You and your partner will also be able to maintain yourselves adequately without recourse to public funds
- Your partner does not intend to stay in the UK beyond any period of leave granted to you as the primary visa holder
- Your partner does not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal
In addition, specific relationship requirements must be met to qualify as the unmarried partner of the primary visa holder, namely:
- Any previous marriage or civil partnership, or similar relationship, by either partner has ended
- You are not blood relatives
- You have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or a civil partnership of two years or more, and
- You both intend to live together as partners during the primary visa holder’s stay in the UK, and the relationship is genuine and subsisting
To apply for entry clearance from outside the UK as the partner or dependant of someone with a UK ancestry visa, this must be done online. Ideally, it is best that you and your partner submit any application at the same time to enable you to travel together to the UK, although your partner can apply at a late date to join you.
Your partner can also apply to switch their visa from a different category if they are already in the UK. However, if they were last granted entry clearance as either a visitor or short-term student they will not be eligible to do so. They will also be ineligible if they were granted temporary admission or temporary release.
As part of the application process for entry clearance and/or leave to remain, your partner will need to enrol their biometric information, ie; a scan of their fingerprints and a digital photograph of their face, either at a visa application centre in their country of residence or at a UKVCAS service point if applying to switch or extend their leave from within the UK.
Having submitted their application and paid the relevant visa fee, your partner will also need to file any documentation in support.
Which are the Commonwealth countries?
The following countries are part of the Commonwealth Countries and citizens of these countries may be eligible to apply for the Ancestry Visa:
• Antigua and Barbuda
• The Bahamas
• Brunei Darussalam
• Fiji Islands
• The Gambia
• New Zealand
• Papua New Guinea
• Sierra Leone
• Solomon Islands
• South Africa
• Sri Lanka
• St Kitts and Nevis
• St Lucia
• St Vincent and the Grenadines
• Trinidad and Tobago
• United Kingdom
• United Republic of Tanzania
What if the application is refused?
Ancestry visa applications can be refused for many reasons, including failure to provide sufficient documentary evidence of the requirements.
In most cases, there is no right of appeal unless an error has been made in which provides grounds to request an administrative review of the decision. Take legal advice if you are unsure of your options after being refused the visa.
Renewing the Ancestry Visa
A UK Ancestry Visa will be granted for a period of up to 5 years.
You have the option to apply to extend the visa for a further period of leave, provided you continue to meet the eligibility requirements, or you may consider applying to settle in the UK on a permanent basis.
The best option for you will very much depend on your individual circumstances, including for how long you intend to remain in the UK and whether your previous stay has been continuous.
UK Ancestry Visa FAQs
Do I qualify for a UK Ancestry Visa?
Under the Ancestry Visa requirements, you have to be 17 years of age or over and a citizen of a commonwealth country.
How much is the ancestral visa application?
The application fee for the UK Ancestry Visa is £516 as at January 2020. You will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge.
How many times can I apply for an ancestry visa?
The Ancestral visa is granted for five years. After that time, you can apply to extend your visa or you can apply for UK indefinite leave to remain if you can show five years' continuous UK residence.