UK Ancestry Visa

The UK Ancestry visa is a type of visa that allows citizens of the Commonwealth and British Overseas with a grandparent born in the United Kingdom (or in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) to live, work and study in the United Kingdom.

What is an ancestry visa in the UK?

The UK Ancestry visa is intended for British Commonwealth and Overseas citizens and citizens with a grandparent born in the United Kingdom (or the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man). Holders can live, work and study in the UK and bring their dependents with them. Once granted, the UK Ancestry visa allows holders to remain in the UK for an initial period of 5 years. After the initial 5-year period, Ancestry visa holders can apply for an indefinite leave to remain (also known as ILR or permanent settlement).

Eligibility requirements for the Ancestry UK visa

To be eligible for an Ancestry UK visa, you must:

  • Be at least 17 years old
  • Be a Commonwealth Citizen, British Overseas Citizen, Citizen of the British Overseas Territories, British Citizen (Overseas) or Citizen of Zimbabwe
  • Apply from outside the UK
  • Be able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • You intend to work in the UK
  • Have enough money without the help of public funds to support and house yourself and any dependents

Commonwealth countries

Commonwealth countries include any of the following:

Botswana, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Kingdom of Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Cyprus, Malta, United Kingdom, Pacific, Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

UK Ancestry Grandparents Requirement

UK Ancestry visa applicants must be able to demonstrate that at least one of their grandparents was born:

  • On a UK-registered aircraft or ship, or
  • In the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or
  • Before 31 March 1922, in what is now known as the Republic of Ireland.

An individual can also apply for the Ancestry UK visa if he or his parents (through whom they claim ancestry to him) are adopted. In this case, applicants must include proof of legal adoption in the application form. It should be noted, however, that it is not possible to apply for a UK Ancestry visa through stepparents.

Financial requirements for the Ancestry visa in the UK

According to the UK Home Office’s Ancestry visa guidance, there is no fixed amount of funds that an Ancestry visa applicant must hold. Rather, they will need to be able to demonstrate that they can support and house themselves and any family members who come with them without the need to apply for public funds.

Dependents of a person on a UK ancestral visa

With an Ancestry visa, you can also bring eligible family members with you to the UK. UK immigration rules define a dependent as the partner or child of the main applicant. Please note that only children under the age of 18 can apply as dependents.

How to apply for a UK ancestral visa

The Ancestry UK visa application process is as follows:

  • Complete the Ancestry visa application form online1 – this must be done before you travel to the UK (maximum three months before you travel to the UK). Each of your dependents will need to make a separate application to join you in the UK
  • Upload all required documents to support your case (see below for more details on the types of documents you may need to provide)
  • Pay entry fees, health surcharge and BRP fee (see below for more information)
  • Book an appointment with a visa application center in the country you are in. The appointment is necessary to register your biometric data (photo and fingerprints) which will then be used for your biometric residence permit (BRP).
  • You can expect to receive a decision on your application within 3 weeks.

Documents required for UK Ancestral Visa

As part of the UK Ancestry visa application process, you will be asked to provide a number of documents and evidence to support your case. You will be told which documents to send; these may include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • your current passport or other suitable travel document
  • your complete birth certificate
  • the full birth certificates of your parents and grandparents on which your UK Ancestry visa application is based
  • evidence that you intend to work in the UK – this can take the form of a job offer or a business plan if you will be self-employed
  • evidence to show that you can support yourself and your dependents in the UK – this may include a bank statement. The date must be within 31 days of the application submission date.
  • If your parents or grandparents have changed their name since birth, adequate proof of this change, such as a marriage certificate or a vow
  • -legal adoption documents if your parents were adopted
  • TB test certificate (depends on the country you are from)
  • your marriage certificate or civil partnership document if your spouse or civil partner will be joining you

Ancestry UK Visa Cost

The application fee for the British Ancestor Visa is £531. Applicants must also pay the NHS Health Surcharge and a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) fee of £19.20.

NHS Health Supplement

Applicants must also pay the National Health Service health surcharge in advance. This is currently £624 per year for each adult and £470 per year for under 18s. The NHS Health Supplement allows Ancestry visa holders and their dependents to use the UK’s National Health Service.

Fast lane option

Depending on the services available at your local visa application centre, you may be able to pay an additional fee of £500 for priority service (for a decision within 5 working days) or £800 for super-priority services (for a decision within 5 working days) by the end of the next working day). This compares to the 3 week processing time for the standard application process.

What you can and can’t do with an Ancestry UK visa

With a British Ancestor visa, you can:

  • work freely for any employer and in any role
  • study
  • bring your closest family members

You can not:

  • switch to this visa if you are already in the UK on another type of visa
  • apply to access public funds (such as social benefits)

How long can you stay outside the UK on an Ancestry visa?

If you intend to apply for ILR, you will need to demonstrate that you have been in the UK for 5 consecutive years. This means you have not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any year during that 5 year period. Furthermore, it is important to remember that applicants must have a genuine intention to work whilst in the UK. Therefore, spending a long time outside the UK may suggest that this is not your intention and could jeopardize your visa.

Ancestry UK Visa Extension/Renewal

You can apply online to renew or extend your UK ancestry visa before your current leave expires if you intend to stay for longer than the initial 5 year period. The UK Ancestry Visa Renewal and Extension is intended for those who are unable or unwilling to apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK. This could be the result of unserved criminal convictions.

Ancestry UK Visa for ILRs and British Citizens

You can apply for ILR after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK on the Ancestry visa. It should be noted that ILR is not granted automatically, rather you will need to submit a full ILR application. Once you have spent at least 12 months in the UK after receiving your ILR, you will be able to apply to become a British citizen.

The ILR application is completed online2 and it is advisable not to apply more than 28 days before your current visa expires. You will also need to make an appointment with your local UKVCAS office to have your photo taken and your signature and fingerprints (also called biometric information) scanned.

To be eligible for ILR, you will need to demonstrate:

  • you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your dependents
  • you intend to work in the UK
  • you are still a citizen of the Commonwealth
  • you have passed your knowledge of the language and life in the UK
  • you meet the English language requirements (e.g. having a CEFR English qualification with at least B1 level in speaking and listening)

When you submit your application for ILR, you will need to provide evidence that, while you have held an Ancestry UK visa for the last 5 years, you have been actively working or genuinely looking for work during the 5 years of your visa.

Your Ancestry UK visa application was rejected

UK Ancestry visa applications may be refused for a variety of reasons, including:

  • insufficient evidence is provided to demonstrate that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements
  • the applicant has unspent criminal convictions
  • the correct rates are not paid
  • the applicant does not respond to requests for additional information from the UKVI
  • If you receive a refusal on your Ancestry UK visa, the main options to consider are:
  • request an administrative review – if you believe an error has been made by the Home Office
  • submit a new application
  • apply for a different type of visa (for example a spouse visa)

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