UK ancestry visa – who is it for?
UK ancestry visa is granted to citizens of Commonwealth countries who have a grandparent born in the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and who wish to come to the UK to work.
Applicants may be 17 years of age and over.
Where to apply?
Initial application for ancestry visa has to be made from abroad, either from the country of origin or another country of residence. Switching into this category from within the UK is not allowed.
Applicants need to demonstrate that they are able to work and intend to take or seek employment. They may bring with them their dependants (spouse or unmarried partner and children under the age of 18 as of the date of application). Dependants of ancestry visa holders have the right to work in the UK.
Applicants for an ancestry visa should have sufficient funds to support themselves and any dependants without recourse to public funds. There is no specific requirement for the amount of funds they should hold, but savings should be sufficient to cover accommodation and living expenses of the main applicant and dependants for a reasonable time until income is received from employment in the UK.
Period of grant and application fees
UK ancestry visa is normally granted for a period of five years.
The government fees include the visa application fee, which is currently £516, and Immigration Health Surcharge which is currently £1000 calculated as £200 per year.
If you need an urgent decision, you can get the decision within two business days by paying £800 for super priority service.
Legal fees vary depending on the complexity of evidence. Typically, our fee is around £1500.
Eligibility for indefinite leave to remain
Holders of UK ancestry visa can apply for indefinite leave to remain after five years of continuous residence in this category.
Absences from the UK of more than 180 days in any 12 month period break the continuity of residence. Thus excessive absences may be a barrier to indefinite leave to remain. If it is, the visa can be extended for another five-year period. There is no limit on these extensions.
Continuous employment throughout the five year period is not mandatory, but intention to work has to be demonstrated through the entire period.
Dependants of persons with UK ancestry
This is perhaps the most privileged immigration category in the whole UK immigration system.
Dependants of ancestry visa holders include the partner and children under 18. What sets them apart from dependants of other migrants is that they can join the main visa holder at any time and apply for indefinite leave to remain at the same time as the main applicant. There is no requirement for any probation period and no requirement for minimum stay in the UK, there are no restrictions on absences before applying for ILR.
Moreover, the spouse of a British citizen who held ancestry visa before becoming a British citizen is entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain without the usual drag of the spouse visa and without the requirement to have spent five years in the UK.
However, if the main applicant does not meet the requirement for ILR due to excessive absences, dependent family members cannot apply in their own right. The usual way forward is to extend the ancestry visa for an additional stretch of five years. If the main applicant still does not meet the residence requirements, the dependent family members may have the option of applying for indefinite leave to remain under the long residence rule.
UK ancestry visa vs entitlement to registration as a British citizen
As explained above, ancestry visa is for Commonwealth citizens with a British grandparent. It may be worth noting that in some limited circumstances, there may be a parallel entitlement to registration as a British citizen where the link between the British-born grandparent and the applicant (i.e. the applicant’s mother) is a woman born outside the Commonwealth to a British-born father. The applicant has to have been born before 1983.
Immigration rules and nationality law may be complex. For confidence in the outcome and the best choice of an immigration strategy, contact our lawyers.
We are happy to help with applications for entry clearance, extension of stay, indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship. You can call us to check how we can help you.