Working in the UK – UK Ancestry visa

This post explains how Commonwealth citizens with UK ancestry may be able to apply for permission to live and work in the United Kingdom.

You can apply to come to the UK in this category if you can show that:

  • you are a Commonwealth citizen;
  • you are aged 17 or over;
  • you are able to work and you plan to work in the UK; and
  • you can adequately support and accommodate yourself and your dependants without help from public funds.

You must also show that at least 1 of your grandparents was born:

  • in the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man); or
  • before 31 March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland; or
  • on a British-registered ship or aircraft.

You can claim ancestry if your relationship to the relevant grandparent is in the legitimate or illegitimate line.

You cannot claim UK ancestry through step-parents, but you can apply if you or your parent (through whom you are claiming ancestry) are adopted. You must show evidence of the legal adoption with your application form.

If you do not meet these requirements, you must apply under one of the UK’s other work-based immigration routes in order to come and work in the UK.

What you will need to show.

You should include as many documents as possible to show that you qualify for entry to the UK through UK ancestry. As a guide, you should include:

  • your full birth certificate
  • your parents’ and grandparents’ marriage certificates, and legal adoption papers if you or your parents are adopted
  • the full birth certificates of the parent and grandparent through whose ancestry you are applying
  • your marriage certificate or civil partnership registration document, if your husband, wife or civil partner intends to join you in the UK

How long can you stay in the UK.

If your UK Ancestry application is authorised, you will be allowed to stay for 5 years. At the end of this time, you might be able to apply to settle permanently.

How to apply.

To apply on the basis of your UK ancestry, you must be outside the UK. You cannot apply to ‘switch’ into this category if you are already in the UK in a different immigration category.

You must obtain a visa before you can travel here.

If you have lived and worked continuously in the UK for 5 years in this category, and if you still meet the UK ancestry requirements (see above), you can apply to settle in the UK permanently. (This is called ‘indefinite leave to remain’.)

If you do not want to settle here when your visa expires, you can apply to extend your stay instead.

Bringing your family.

Your family members (known as ‘dependants’) can apply to travel with you to the UK or join you there, if you can support them without needing any help from public funds.

Your dependants are your husband, wife, civil partner or eligible partner and your children under 18 years of age.

This text is an adapation of the contents of the UKBA website. Remember, immigration law is complex and subject to continuous change. The information provided here may be out of date, or just based on personal experience/knowledge. The use of these pages is therefore entirely at your own risk. Before applying for any type of visas, you should always seek information from the authorities direct via their official websites. You will find some useful website details on our Links page.

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