Ancestry Visas – An Overview
The UK Ancestry Visa is a unique type of visa that allows individuals who are Commonwealth citizens to live and work in the UK for an initial period of up to five years, providing they have a grandparent who was born in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. The visa is designed for those who have a strong ancestral connection to the UK and want to live and work in the UK, embracing their British heritage.
To be eligible for the UK Ancestry Visa, applicants need to demonstrate their UK ancestry, including the birth certificate of their UK born grandparent and proof that they are a Commonwealth citizen. They must also be able to support themselves financially within the UK without recourse to public funds and show that they intend to work in the UK during their stay.
Once granted, the UK Ancestry Visa allows individuals to work, study and live in the UK for up to five years, after which time they may also be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain and in turn, British citizenship. The UK Ancestry Visa really does offer a unique opportunity for those with a strong ancestral connection to the UK to live and work in the country for an extended period of time, plus the benefit of a pathway to permanent residency and British citizenship.
UK Ancestry Visa Eligibility
To be eligible for a UK Ancestry Visa, an applicant will need to meet the following criteria:
- Commonwealth Citizenship: The applicant must be a Commonwealth citizen, which includes citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and many other countries. A full list of eligible nationalities is provided further down the page.
- Ancestry Requirement: The applicant must have a grandparent who was born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. The grandparent must have been born before 31 March 1922 if the applicant is applying based on their grandparent’s birth in the Republic of Ireland.
- Age: The applicant must be 17 years or over.
- Financial Requirements: The applicant must be able to support themselves and any dependents financially without relying on public funds. They must provide evidence that they have enough money to support themselves for the entire duration of their stay in the UK.
- Intention to Work: The applicant must provide evidence of their intention to work in the UK during their stay.
- Applying from Outside the UK: The applicant must be applying from outside the UK
Providing you meet this criteria and don’t have any adverse immigration history or criminal convictions, then you will be able to apply for a UK Ancestry Visa.
UK Ancestry Visa Document List
To apply for a UK Ancestry Visa, an applicant must provide various documents to prove their eligibility. The exact list of required documents will vary depending on you own individual circumstances, but generally, the following documents will be required:
- Valid passport or travel document: The applicant must provide a valid passport or travel document that shows their identity, nationality and personal details.
- UK ancestry documents: The applicant must provide documents to prove their UK ancestry, including the birth certificates of their parent(s) and grandparent(s) that their ancestry claim is based on.
- Proof of financial means: The applicant must provide evidence that they can support themselves and any dependents financially during their stay in the UK without relying on public funds. This may include bank statements, as well as proof of any savings or investments.
- Evidence you’re planning to work in the UK: This is the most subjective area. Most applicants provide a CV and proof of their current employment, as well as any prospective job roles they’ve found or potential job offers. Self employed applicants should provide tax returns and self employment registration documents.
- Tuberculosis test results: If the applicant is from a country where a tuberculosis test is required, they must provide evidence of having undergone a test and obtained the test clearance certificate.
- Supporting documents for dependents: Passports, marriage certificates and birth certificates should be supplied as appropriate for any dependents you plan to bring with you to the UK.
- Further supporting documents: Where any individual has been adopted or changed their name since birth, appropriate evidence will need to be supplied. Other supporting documents may also be required based on individual circumstances.
It is important to note that all document should be original, and in English or Welsh. If the documents are not in English or Welsh, they must be translated by an accredited translator.
Need help with your Ancestry Visa? Get in touch on +44 (0) 203 178 2048
Can my family join me in the UK with an Ancestry Visa?
How to apply for a UK Ancestry Visa
All applications for a UK Ancestry Visa need to be made from your home country or a country where you are legally resident. Applications are made via an online application form, which captures personal details about you and your UK ancestral history. At the end of the online application you’ll then be prompted to pay the relevant application fees and schedule an appointment to submit your biometric information at a local visa application centre. Once you have paid the fees, you can then submit your application. On submission of your application, you’ll then need to provide your passport and other documentary evidence to support your application. The process for doing this varies by country and you can find further details in our UK Visa Application Process guide.
Once you’ve submitted your documents and your biometric information, a decision should be made on your Ancestry Visa application within 3 weeks. In some instances applications can take longer if they are complex, incomplete or if there are other factors to consider. Once your application has been fully assessed, you’ll receive an email confirming a decision has been made on your application and you’ll then need to collect your passport alongside the decision letter.
UK Ancestry Visa Application Fees
The application fee for a UK Ancestry Visa on 2023 is £531. In addition to the application fee, applicants will also need to pay a £19.20 biometric fee and the annual Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee of £624. As the visa is granted for 5 years, a total of £3,120 will need to be paid upfront in IHS fees. Therefore the total fees payable in 2023 for a UK Ancestry Visa will be £3,670.20.
If you are applying with any dependents, the following fees will apply to each dependent:
- Application fee of £531
- Biometric fee of £19.20
- Immigration Health Surcharge fee of £624 for any adults / £470 for any children under the age of 18 years old. Over 5 years the IHS fees total £3,120 for adults and £2,350 for children under the age of 18 years old.
Therefore the total fees payable for adult dependents will be £3,670.20 and £2,900.20 for children under the age of 18 years old.
UK Ancestry Visa Processing Times
Processing times for UK Ancestry Visa’s are faster than for many other visas. Typically decisions are returned within 3 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre, although complex cases can take longer. If you want your application processed more quickly, it’s possible to pay an additional £250 fee for a 5 day priority service or a £956 fee for a next day super priority service. You should check before applying to see whether this service is available in your country of application. Details on the services offered can be found through your local visa application centre.
Frequently Asked Questions
While no two visa applications are ever exactly the same, most of our clients have very similar questions about Ancestry Visas. So we’ve collated the most commonly asked questions and published answers below to help you better understand the UK Ancestry Visa criteria and process upfront.
Unfortunately you cannot claim UK ancestry through step-parents.
You can claim UK ancestry if either you or your parents were legally adopted.
There is no formal English language requirement for a UK Ancestry Visa application. However it’s important to note that any subsequent applications for indefinite leave to remain or naturalisation will have an English language requirement that will need to be satisfied.
The UK Ancestry Visa scheme is open to citizens of all Commonwealth countries. The full list of eligible countries is as follows:
- 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 Republic of Tanzania
It’s possible to extend a UK Ancestry Visa for a further 5 year period at the end of your initial period of leave, providing you meet the eligibility criteria. If you’ve been in the UK for 5 years, then it’s likely that applying for permanent residence via indefinite leave to remain (ILR) will be a better option. If you’re in any doubt, get in touch to discuss this with us. If you don’t meet the criteria for ILR, then it’s certainly possible to extend your Ancestry Visa.
Ancestry Visas are issued for 5 years and can be extended for a further 5 years at the end of the initial term.
Rumours have circulated for years about the impending end of the Ancestry Visa scheme. However to date there’s no official statement from the UK Home Office about the scheme ending. Even if the scheme does close, it will only impact new applicants and not applicants who have applied or who are currently on an Ancestry Visa. Migrants currently under the Ancestry Visa scheme are bound by the terms of the visa when they first applied, meaning they won’t be impacted by the cessation of the scheme and they will be able to extend their visa in the future.
You may be required to submit a TB certificate as part of your Ancestry Visa application. The requirement to submit a TB certificate is based on your country of residence and whether TB is prevalent there. Further details and a list of all the countries that require a TB certificate are available in our Tuberculosis (TB) Test Requirement Guide.