How Long Can You Stay In the UK on an Ancestry Visa?

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Getting a visa for the UK can be an exciting step, but as the expiration date looms closer, your next step can become more daunting. Fortunately, Ancestry Visas are one of the longest visas awarded for those wishing to come to the UK, so you don’t need to think about switching visas or extending your visa as soon as you step foot in the UK.

But how long can you stay in the UK with an Ancestry visa and what are you allowed to do once you’re there? We’ll answer these questions and more!

Requirements to Obtain a UK Ancestry Visa

Requirements to Obtain a UK Ancestry Visa

To apply for a UK Ancestry visa, you need to meet the eligibility requirements and provide the necessary documents as evidence as well as pay the application fee and the immigration health surcharge (IHS).

To be eligible for a UK Ancestry visa, you need to be:

  • a Commonwealth citizen
  • a British overseas citizen
  • a British overseas territories citizen
  • a British national (overseas)
  • a citizen of Zimbabwe

You must also be able to prove at least one of your grandparents was born in the UK or Channel Islands.

The commonwealth includes a total of 56 different countries across the world, while there are 14 British overseas territories, so there are potentially 2.5 billion citizens eligible to apply for the Ancestry Visa.

Applicants must also:

  • Be over 17 years old
  • Prove their intention to live and work in the UK
  • Prove their relationship with their ancestor via official documents (such as birth certificates)
  • Prove their ability to financially support themselves while in the UK with bank statements or a job offer
  • Complete and submit the application form online
  • Provide results of a negative tuberculosis (TB) test if from one of the listed countries

If you meet each of these requirements and pay the relevant fees, you can apply for the Ancestry visa for the UK.

How Long You Can Stay in the UK on an Ancestry Visa

How Long You Can Stay in the UK on an Ancestry Visa

Once you’ve applied for your UK Ancestry visa, you’ll be permitted to stay in the UK for up to 5 years. You can extend the visa as many times as you like, each time being given a further 5 years’ permission to stay in the UK, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements each time, and pay both the application fee and IHS.

However, after spending 5 years in the UK, you would then also be eligible to apply to settle in the UK, also known as permanent residence or ILR.

What You Can and Can’t Do in the UK with an Ancestry Visa

The UK Ancestry visa doesn’t necessarily fit in any other visa category such as Family visas or Work visas, so it can be difficult to know what your rights would be in the UK if your application is successful. Here are some of the most common queries regarding rights in the UK with an Ancestry visa.

Can You Work in the UK on an Ancestry Visa?

While the Ancestry visa is not strictly speaking a work visa, when you apply, you should prove your intention to start a life in the UK, which includes obtaining work. You can get a job offer before starting your application to help you get an Ancestry visa, or if you have enough savings, show you can support yourself in the UK until you find work.

Once in the UK with an Ancestry visa, you will have the right to become employed, self-employed or work on a freelance basis. There are no restrictions on the type of work you can do, except run as a member of parliament or other such jobs that require you to have British citizenship.

Can You Study in the UK on an Ancestry Visa?

You are allowed to study whilst in the UK with an Ancestry visa, however, the primary reason for awarding the visa is that you join the workforce in the UK, so you cannot become a full-time student with an Ancestry visa. If you wish to study full-time in the UK, you should apply for a Student visa.

However, you can study part-time alongside your work, or short-term while you’re looking for work.

Can You Get Married in the UK on an Ancestry Visa?

Can You Get Married in the UK on an Ancestry Visa?

You can get married or enter a civil partnership while you’re in the UK on an Ancestry visa, so if you meet the love of your life once you arrive, just follow the normal legal proceedings for marriage, such as registering at your local registry office. You should note, however, that not every country has the concept of a civil partnership, so your partnership may not be recognised in other countries if you later move abroad.

However, the good news if you plan to stay permanently in the UK, is that if you marry or enter a civil partnership with a British citizen, you can expedite your route to British citizenship, from 6 years to 3 years.

Can You Buy a House in the UK on an Ancestry Visa?

You can also buy or rent a property while you’re in the UK with an Ancestry visa. You won’t automatically get residency in the UK by buying a house as you can in some other countries, however, you don’t need to be a British citizen to own property in the UK.

Anyone with a bank account in the UK can own property, and for most banks, all you need is residency to open an account.

Can You Bring Your Family to the UK?

You can bring family members to the UK with you when you have an Ancestry visa, however, not every family member. You can bring:

  • Your spouse or civil partner
  • Unmarried dependent children i.e. those under 18 who are not living independently

Each person must apply for their visa separately and will be judged for their eligibility separately. They must also apply to extend their visas if they wish to continue in the UK, it will not automatically extend when the visa holder extends their own Ancestry visa.

Extending Your Ancestry Visa

Applying to extend your Ancestry visa is a similar process to the initial application and must also be submitted online, with relevant supporting documents, financial statements, and evidence that the application fee and IHS have been paid.

Ancestry visas can be extended indefinitely, each being granted for 5 years. You must apply before your current visa expires to avoid the application being withdrawn and you being asked to leave the country.

If you wish to stay in the UK permanently, after 5 years, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency.

When Can You Apply for Permanent Residence?

When Can You Apply for Permanent Residence?

Individuals holding a UK Ancestry visa may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, provided they meet certain requirements. ILR, also known as settlement, allows individuals to live in the UK with no expiration date.

To apply for ILR, you need to have lived in the UK for 5 years and not spent more than 450 days outside of the country during this time. This helps the Home Office to see you are committed to living in the UK.

You must also show:

  • You have sufficient finances (extensive savings or an employment contract suffices as evidence)
  • You are of good character (have not committed any serious or immigration crimes)
  • Have completed the Life in the UK test (showing your knowledge of English history, culture and laws)

Once you have ILR, you may be able to get British citizenship.

Are You Eligible for British Citizenship?

If you have lived in the UK for 5 years and held ILR for at least 12 months, you are eligible to apply for British citizenship, which would gain you the right to vote and hold a British passport, among other benefits.

However, if you are a citizen of a British overseas territory or have been born to a British citizen parent abroad, you may be able to fast-track your way to British citizenship.

Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions

If you’re looking for help or advice with your UK visa application, contact Synergy Immigration Solutions today! Our expert team will be able to advise any individual on changes to immigration rules and support any application.

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