What Is UK Ancestry Visa?

What Is UK Ancestry Visa?

The UK Ancestry visa is a popular option for many people who wish to come to the UK to live and work and who have a familial connection to the UK. However, each applicant must pay the application fee and provide numerous supporting documents to prove their identity as well as their relationship to their relative who was a British citizen in order to gain the visa.

But despite needing a relation to a British citizen, the UK Ancestry visa isn’t exactly a Family visa, and although you need to prove your intent to work in the UK, it’s not quite a Work visa either. So, what is the UK Ancestry visa and how do you apply? Let’s take a look.

What Is the UK Ancestry Visa?

What Is the UK Ancestry Visa?

The UK Ancestry visa is a type of visa for residents of foreign countries who have some connection to the UK due to their heritage to come to the UK to work. While not formally a work visa, applicants must show their intention to work while in the UK to support themselves and any family member who will join them. There are no limitations to the work applicants can undertake in the UK, except for those reserved for British citizens such as running as an MP.

The British Empire began in the late 1500s and the British took leadership of territories all over the world, some of which remain as British Overseas Territories such as Bermuda and the British Antarctic Territory. Many of the former British colonies still have contact with the UK through the Commonwealth, a group of 56 countries united in the ambition of development and peace. It is predominantly Commonwealth citizens, as well as some other nationalities who can apply for a UK Ancestry visa to be permitted entry to the UK, although there are other restrictions.

Who Can Apply for the UK Ancestry Visa?

Who Can Apply for the UK Ancestry Visa?

To be eligible to apply for the UK Ancestry visa, each applicant must be:

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


  • prove that they have at least one grandparent who was born in the UK or Channel Islands

As applicants must show their intent to work in the UK, they should be over 17 years old. However, applicants can also bring their long-term partners and dependent children with them to the UK, though each must apply separately.

What Documents You Need to Apply for the UK Ancestry Visa

To apply for an Ancestry visa, you’ll need to submit:

  • A current passport (with space for your visa) or a different valid travel document
  • Your full birth certificate
  • The full birth certificates of the parent and grandparent who were citizens of British territories
  • Proof that you’re planning to work in the UK, for example, a job offer or business plan
  • Proof that you can financially support yourself (and any dependents) for at least the first month in the UK while you look for work or accommodation, such as bank statements dated within 31 days from the start of your application
  • A negative tuberculosis (TB) test result if from one of the listed countries

You may also be asked to provide other documents when submitting your application or after the application process has begun, such as a police report detailing any criminal convictions or serving as evidence of no prior offences. To be given an Ancestry visa, you need to show you are of good character, so police reports can support your application if the Home Office has questions regarding your suitability to move to the UK.

UK Ancestry Visa Application Process

UK Ancestry Visa Application Process

To apply for a UK Ancestry visa, you need to gather your supporting documents listed above as well as anything else the Home Office may ask for, complete your application online, pay the application fee and pay the immigration health surcharge (IHS). Each applicant (including dependents) must pay the fees. The total IHS cost will be calculated according to how long your visa will be issued for, while the application fee is currently £637.

You cannot apply for an Ancestry visa more than 3 months before you intend to travel to the UK, and you should receive a response within 3 weeks of completing your application form. This may be longer if the Home Office requires more information from you.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you are likely to receive a positive response, however, your visa can be refused if you don’t meet the good character requirements or you don’t have likely job prospects. You don’t need a job offer to apply for an Ancestry visa for the UK, but you at least need to present a business plan to show your intention to become self-employed, or your qualifications and career history to show there is a high chance of gaining employment once in the UK.

When your visa is issued, you’ll be asked to attend an appointment at your nearest UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) to have your biometric photo and fingerprints taken so they can issue you with a biometric residence permit. Your Ancestry visa will be issued for 5 years, in which you can live, work and study in the UK.

What to Do When Your Ancestry Visa Expires

You must leave the UK before your visa expires to avoid problems with immigration when leaving, unless you are extending your visa or switching to a different visa.

You must apply to switch or extend your visa before your current visa expires or you will be required to leave the country and your application will be withdrawn. You can apply to extend your visa online; it costs £1,048 for each applicant and can take up to 8 weeks to receive a response, so make sure you have sufficient time left on your current visa when beginning to apply.

However, if you wish to stay in the UK long-term, you can also apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), also known as permanent residency, after 5 years to stay in the UK without restrictions.

Applying for ILR

Applying for ILR

If you’ve lived in the UK for at least 5 continuous years, you can usually apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Any time spent in the UK on short-term visas does not count towards your 5 years in the UK, including:

  • Seasonal Worker visas
  • Standard Visitor visas
  • Diplomat visas or those issued to their families or staff
  • Student visas

Even if you have been studying in the UK for 5 continuous years and perhaps even worked part-time during your course, you cannot apply for ILR after living in the UK on a Student visa. You could switch to a work visa after you graduate, but you would then have to live in the UK for 3 – 5 years depending on the visa to be eligible for permanent residency.

During the 5 years in the UK, you can leave the country, however, to be eligible for ILR, you cannot have spent more than 450 days during the 5 years, or more than 180 days during the last 12 months to have your application reviewed.

When applying for ILR, you must apply online, pay the application fee and:

  • Show evidence you have enough money to support yourself and your dependents
  • Prove you intend to continue living and working in the UK
  • Prove you are still a Commonwealth citizen
  • Show you have passed the Life in the UK test about British customs and culture

If your application is successful, you can continue living and working in the UK indefinitely. However, after 12 months, you are also eligible to apply for British citizenship.

Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions

If you want to learn more about Ancestry visas or need help getting through the application process, the expert team at Synergy Immigration Solutions are here to help you! Contact us today to learn more about how we help individual cases, and read our privacy notice to learn about how we process your data.

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