UK Ancestry Visa

The UK Ancestry Visa allows Commonwealth citizens who meet certain eligibility criteria to come to the UK for up to 5 years to work and study, and to be accompanied by family members.

What is the UK Ancestry Visa?

An ancestry visa is a visa that will allow a Commonwealth citizen with ancestral links to the United Kingdom to live in the UK. As such, if your application for an Ancestry Visa is successful, under your conditions of stay you will be allowed to work and study in the UK. You will also be allowed to bring family members to live with you.

There are generally no restrictions under an Ancestry Visa as to the type of work you can undertake. You may wish to work in an employed role for a UK employer or, alternatively, you may want to establish your own business to enable you to work for yourself.

Note also that Ancestry Visa holders must show they can accommodate and financially support themselves, as they are ineligible to access public funds in the UK.

Who is eligible?

  • You are aged 17 and over
  • You are a Commonwealth citizen
  • You are able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK and Islands
  • You are able and planning to work in the UK
  • You are able to satisfy the maintenance and accommodation requirement, ie; you have sufficient funds without recourse to public funds to support and house yourself and any dependants

To satisfy the “ancestry” requirement, you must show that you have a grandparent born in any one of the following circumstances:

In the UK, including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man Before 31 March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland On a British-registered ship or aircraft

Please note that the birth of a grandparent in a British colony or a military base overseas will not make you eligible for an ancestry visa. You can, however, still claim ancestry even if either you or the relevant parent were adopted, or born outside marriage in the UK. That said, UK ancestry cannot be claimed through step-parents.

civil litigation solicitor

Our Professional Solicitor's are available in person at our offices or via the phone, Call us Today

This documentation could include the following:

  • Your full birth certificate
  • The full 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
  • The legal adoption papers if you or the parent that your ancestry claim is based on are adopted
  • Evidence that you are planning to work in the UK
  • Recent bank statements to show that you have enough money to support yourself
  • Any tuberculosis test results if you are resident in a country where you are required to take the test

Other documents may be required depending on your circumstances. Taking professional advice will ensure you compile and submit a comprehensive submission.

In relation to the “work” requirement, you do not have to be working at the time you apply for an Ancestry Visa, but you must have the ability and intention to work in the UK. In other words, you must show with reference to documentation that you genuinely intend to seek work in the UK and have a realistic prospect of finding work.

As such, you will either need the offer of a job from a UK employer or, where you plan to work for yourself, a business plan for self-employment.


What are the Ancestry Visa supporting documents?

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.

How long does the Ancestry Visa take to process?

The earliest that you can apply for an ancestry visa is 3 months before you travel. However, once you apply you should get a decision from UKVI within 3 weeks.

How much does the Ancestry Visa cost?

The fee to apply for an Ancestry Visa from outside the UK is £516. However, depending on what country you are in, 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.

In addition to the visa application fee, you may also be liable to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS) as part of your application. By paying the IHS, once your visa has been granted, this will entitle you to use the National Health Service in the UK.

The IHS will be calculated on the basis of how much leave you are granted, typically at a rate of £1,035 per year per applicant. By way of example, if you are granted an ancestry visa for a period of 5 years, you will be liable to pay £5,175 (5 x £1,035). Any dependants joining you in the UK will also need to pay the same amount.

UK visa lawyer

What if my Ancestry Visa application is refused?

There are various reasons why an application for an Ancestry Visa may be refused, for example, where the applicant has failed to prove that they are actively seeking work or where they have been unable to locate their grandparent’s original birth certificate.

However, in the event that your Ancestry Visa application is refused, there is no right of appeal. You will only be able to ask UKVI for an Administrative Review of their decision where you believe that the initial decision was incorrect.

In circumstances where your application has been refused on the basis that you failed to meet the eligibility criteria, or to provide the necessary documentation in support, then the refusal decision is unlikely to be overturned on review.

Take professional advice on your case to understand your options to challenge the Home Office’s decision, or whether a new application or a different immigration route would be appropriate in your circumstances.

Can I extend my Ancestry Visa?

With a UK Ancestry Visa, you can stay in the UK for a period of up to 5 years, and you’ll be able to extend from within the UK for a further 5 years.

To renew your visa, will need to submit an online application prior to expiry of your existing visa, together with your documentation in support. You will also need to include any dependants who are on your current visa, including children who have turned 18 during your stay.

You will be asked to make an appointment at a UKVCAS service point to provide your biometric information. There is a fee of £19.20 for enrolling your biometric information. You can upload any documentation into the online service or, alternatively, have them scanned at your UKVCAS appointment.

If you are applying to extend your visa from within the UK, the application fee is £1,048.

When applying to extend your Ancestry Visa, a decision will usually be made by UKVI within 8 weeks of your application date if using the standard service.

new uk building

Does an Ancestry Visa lead to ILR?

If you have lived in the UK under an Ancestry Visa for a period of 5 years or more, you may also be eligible to apply to settle in the UK permanently. Settlement, or ‘indefinite leave to remain‘ (ILR), means you can stay in the UK free from any immigration restrictions on an indefinite basis.

As well as meeting the residence requirement, you must also show that throughout the qualifying period you have been working or genuinely seeking work.

If you do not meet all the necessary requirements for ILR, you can instead apply for an extension to your Ancestry Visa to ensure you retain lawful status.

With ILR, you are also on the route to British citizenship. To apply for citizenship, you must have lived in the UK for 12 months with ILR status, unless you are married to a British citizen or person with UK settled status, in which case you can apply as soon as you attain ILR.

That said, where you were born outside the UK and one or both of your parents are British citizens, you may already be classed as a British citizen by descent. In these circumstances, you will not need to apply to naturalise as a British citizen.

Our Top UK Ancestry Visa FAQ’S

× WhatsApp