The UK Ancestry visa is one of the most popular immigration routes for persons fortunate enough to qualify to settle in the UK. The ancestral route entitles a Commonwealth citizen who has a grandparent born in the UK to gain entry to the UK. The visa will permit you to take up or seek employment and eventually settle in the UK.
The main advantage of the UK Ancestry visa is that there are no work restrictions. At the end of a five-year period on this visa, you can qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Table of contents
- How to qualify for the UK Ancestry visa
How to qualify for the UK Ancestry visa
You must be a Commonwealth citizen, 17 years of age or older. You must prove that you have a grandparent who was born in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. This grandparent can be on either side of your family.
Recently, the definition of ‘Commonwealth citizen’ has been amended. It now also includes British Territories citizens, British Nationals (Overseas), British Overseas citizens and British subjects.
Zimbabwe is no longer part of the Commonwealth. However, the Home Office treats citizens from Zimbabwe as part of the Commonwealth for purposes of the Ancestral route. The good news is that citizens from Zimbabwe can still apply.
Citizens from Cyprus and Malta previously made use of free movement between the UK and the EU to move to the UK. With the end of free movement, they can no longer do so unless they have, of course, made use of the EU Settlement Scheme. As Cyprus and Malta are also part of the Commonwealth, citizens from these countries can now apply for the Ancestry visa if they have a British-born grandparent.
Adopted children and grandchildren
A person can also apply for the UK Ancestry visa if they are adopted. Or if the parent through whom they are claiming ancestry is an adopted child. You can also claim ancestry if you or the relevant parent were born within or outside marriage in the UK. It is, however, not possible to claim UK ancestry through step-parents.
One of the biggest concerns for many applicants is whether they are too old to qualify. Fortunately, you only have to be 17 years of age to qualify. There is no upper age limit. Older applicants need to keep in mind, though, that you have to prove your intention and ability to work in the UK.
English Language Requirement
Fortunately for applicants of this route, you do not need to fulfil an English Language requirement.
However, applicants will need to prove their English language skills when they eventually apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Spouses and dependants
The UK Ancestry visa holder can apply for their spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, and dependent children to join them in the UK. The dependants will be granted the same period of leave as the main applicant. They will also be able to work without restriction.
Work Restrictions on Dependants
There are no work restrictions on the dependants of the UK Ancestry Visa holder.
Breakdown of relationships
Should the relationship between the partner or spouse and the main visa holder breaks down before the dependant reaches Indefinite Leave to Remain, he/she will have to apply for a visa in their own right. Should there be no visa options available, the dependant will have to return to his/her home country. Breytenbachs strongly advise that clients in such situations contact us without delay.
Indefinite Leave to Remain for Dependants
Dependants of the UK Ancestry Visa holder can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) at the same time as the main visa holder. They do not have to wait for five years to apply for ILR. However, they will have to fulfil the full residence period before applying for their British citizenship.
Length of stay
The Ancestral visa is granted for five years. After five years, the visa holder should be able to qualify to apply for ILR. If the visa holder does not fulfil the criteria to apply for ILR, he/she can apply to extend the visa. You can then apply when you are able to meet all the relevant criteria for settlement.
Second UK Ancestry Visa
There are cases where persons leave the UK before reaching the qualifying period for ILR, and the Ancestry visa expires. In such cases, it is possible to apply for another UK Ancestry visa. You will have to apply from outside the UK.
Right to work
There are no work restrictions on the holder of the Ancestry visa and their dependents. The visa holder will be able to start his/her own business or take up employment. It is also possible to combine employment and self-employment.
Intention to work
Even though there are no work restrictions on the visa holder, you have to work and intend to work. If you do not intend to work, your visa will be refused.
Visa holders can meet the work requirement by doing voluntary work. However, you still have to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK. If you cannot meet the income requirement from employment, you will have to prove it another way.
Work and ILR Application
UK Ancestry visa holders should also take note of the work requirement for ILR. When the visa holder qualifies to apply for ILR, he/she has to provide evidence that they have been working for the past five years.
Immigration Health Surcharge
The visa applicant and all the dependents have to pay the immigration health surcharge as part of the application.
Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK
At the end of the successful completion of five years on a UK Ancestry visa, the holder can apply for permanent residence. Permanent residence is also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain.
If you do not meet the criteria to apply for permanent residence, you may apply to extend your visa.
How Breytenbachs can help you
Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants have dedicated teams dealing with the UK Ancestry Visa. For fast, friendly and professional advice, contact us today! We will be able to guide you through the application process and ensure a successful route to British citizenship.
For more information on the Ancestral immigration route, read our article on the UK Ancestral Visa – all your questions answered.