The UK Ancestry visa route (also known as British Ancestor visa) is one of the easiest ways to move to the UK, to live and work there permanently. This UK visa route grants Commonwealth and British Overseas citizens and nationals whose grandparent(s) was born in the UK the right to live, study and work in the UK. This means that before you can get the UK Ancestry visa, you must be a Commonwealth citizen, and must also be an immediate descendant of UK nationals. With the UK Ancestry visa, you can live and work anywhere in the UK. You can also establish your own business (self-employment) in the UK. In this article, you will learn all about UK ancestry visa program, the visa validity period, eligibility and document requirements, commonwealth countries eligible to apply for the visa, the visa cost, step by step visa application guide, and other FAQs and answers.
What is the Validity Period of UK Ancestry Visa?
The validity period of UK Ancestry visa is 5 years, after which you either apply to extend your visa for another 5 years, or you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in order to get UK permanent residency permit.
Eligibility Requirements for UK Ancestry Visa
In order to be eligible for UK Ancestry visa you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be 17 years old and above.
- You must be a Commonwealth citizen, British overseas citizen, British overseas territories citizen, a British national (overseas), or a citizen of Zimbabwe
- Also, you must apply from outside of UK.
- You must have enough evidence to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands.
- You must be able to work, and also have plans to work in the UK.
- Finally, you must have enough funds to support yourself and your dependents (if any), without help from public funds.
NOTE: As an applicant of UK Ancestry visa, you must be able to prove that at least one of your grandparents was born on a British-registered aircraft or ship; or in the UK, including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; or before 31st March 1922 in what is now known as the Republic of Ireland.
The Commonwealth countries include:
Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Botswana, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Cameroon, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kiribati, Kenya, Kingdom of Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Malta, Mozambique, Malaysia, Maldives, Namibia, Nigeria, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Pacific, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and The Grenadines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Zambia.
Documents Required for UK Ancestry Visa Application
You will need to get a number of documents ready before you apply for UK Ancestry visa. Most of these documents are evidences to prove your claim of having a UK ancestry. You will be told the documents to send. But here is a list of some of the documents that might be required for UK Ancestry visa application:
- Your current passport, or another alternative travel document.
- Your full birth certificate.
- The full birth certificates of your parent and grandparent on which you based your UK ancestry claim on.
- Proof that you plan to work in the UK. You can bring evidence of a UK job offer, or a feasible business plan if you wish to be self-employed in the UK.
- Proof that you have enough funds to support yourself and your dependents (if any) in the UK. You can use a bank statement, dated within 31 days from the date you are to submit your visa application.
- Tuberculosis (TB) test result, if you are a citizen of a country where this test is compulsory.
- Evidence of change of name, if your parents or grandparents have changed their name since birth. Some of the eligible proofs include: deed poll or marriage or civil partnership certificates.
- Legal adoption documents, if your parents or grandparents were adopted.
- Your marriage certificate or civil partnership document, if your spouse of civil partner is moving to the UK with you.
NOTE: The documents that will be required of you may vary from the above list, depending on your circumstances. You are advised to seek the advice of a professional immigration lawyer or solicitor for proper guide.
How much does the UK Ancestry Visa Cost?
The UK Ancestry visa application fee is £516, and you must apply from outside the UK. Then you also pay £19.20 for your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Also, each visa applicant will also pay the NHS healthcare surcharge of £624 per year for each adult, and £470 per year for anyone under 18 years of age. This NHS healthcare surcharge permits the UK Ancestry visa holders and their dependents to use the UK National Health Service once they move over there.
Optionally, if you wish to opt for priority service, you will pay an additional fee of £500 (if you wish to get a decision on your visa within 5 working days), or a super-priority service fee of £800 (if you wish to get a decision on your visa by the end of the next working day).
How long does it take to Process the UK Ancestry Visa?
It takes up to 3 weeks to get a decision from the UKVI on your Ancestry visa application. But you can fast-track your UK Ancestry visa decision by paying an extra fee for either the priority service (£500) or the super-priority service (£800).
Also note that the earliest you can apply for UK Ancestry visa is 3 months before you travel.
Guide on How to Apply for UK Ancestry Visa
Here are the steps for applying for a UK Ancestry visa:
- First, complete the online visa application form. You need to do this before you travel to the UK (at least 3 months before you travel to the UK). If your dependents are moving to the UK with you, each of them will apply separately.
- Next, upload the required documents for the UK Ancestry visa application (you can check the above list for guidance).
- Then pay the visa application fees, BRP fee and healthcare surcharge.
- After making the necessary payments, book an appointment with a visa application center in your current country of residence. This is to enable the enrollment of your biometric information (your photograph and fingerprints) which will be used to process your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
- After that, you wait to get a decision on your UK Ancestry visa application. It can take up to 3 weeks.
For more details, plus visa application link, check this guide: Apply for UK Ancestry Visa.
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- All About UK Points-Based Immigration System & Visa Types
Other UK Ancestry Visa Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Answers
Can I Extend or Renew a UK Ancestry Visa?
Yes, you can renew or extend your UK Ancestry visa for further 5 years, before your current visa expires. If you have dependents who wish to apply at the same time, you must include them. The UK Ancestry visa extension fee is £1,048, plus the NHS healthcare surcharge.
Note that you can always extend your UK Ancestry visa as many times as requires, provided you continue to meet the visa eligibility requirements.
Can I Apply for ILR with a UK Ancestry Visa?
Yes, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after staying continuously for 5 years in the UK under the Ancestry visa route. ILR is not automatically granted, you must be eligible and then submit a full application for ILR online. It is advisable not to apply more than 28 days before your current visa expires.
You will also have to book and appointment with your local UKVCAS office for the capture of your biometric information (your signature, photograph and fingerprints). Also note that when submitting your ILR application, you will be required to provide a proof that for the past 5 years, while on the UK Ancestry visa, you have been working actively, or genuinely seeking for job opportunities in the UK.
After you are granted ILR, and you stay up to 12 months in the UK with ILR, you may be able to apply to become a British citizen, if you are eligible.
Can I Switch to UK Ancestry Visa from Other Visa Routes?
If you are already in the UK via a different visa route, you cannot switch to UK Ancestry visa while still in UK. If you meet all the eligibility requirements of UK Ancestry visa, you must first return to your home country, and then apply for Ancestry visa outside of the UK.
What can I do and can’t do on a UK Ancestry Visa?
As a holder of UK Ancestry visa, you can live and work freely for any UK employer, and in any job role. You can also study in the UK within the as long as your visa is valid. Also, your dependents (partner and/or child) can join you in the UK.
But you cannot switch to the Ancestry visa if you came to the UK on a different visa route. Also, you cannot get public funds.
For more details on UK Ancestry visa, check out these guides: UK Ancestry Visa Guide and UK Ancestry Visa Guidance: Application, Cost and Extension.
You have learnt all about UK ancestry visa program, the visa validity period, eligibility and document requirements, commonwealth countries eligible to apply for the visa, visa cost, step by step visa application guide, and other FAQs and answers. If your country of eligible, and if you met the visa requirements, you can go ahead and apply.
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