What is an Ancestry Visa?

An Ancestry Visa is the most common route for a Commonwealth citizen, and their dependants, with a UK connection through a grandparent born in the UK, to live in the UK for work, with no restrictions on employment.

You can live and work in the UK for up to five years with an Ancestry visa and exit and re-enter the UK freely on multiple occasions.

After five years of living and working in the United Kingdom under an Ancestry Visa, you can apply to extend your visa for a further five years (before the current visa expires) or (which is more typical) you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

If the application for Indefinite Leave to Remain is successful then the person can apply to become a British citizen after a further year of residence in the UK.

We can assess your eligibility for an Ancestry Visa and help you apply:

Am I eligible?

Leave through UK ancestry is normally only granted on entry to the UK to a person who was granted entry clearance by a British mission or visa application centre in his or her country of residence.

An Ancestry Visa applicant must prove all of the following when applying for entry clearance:

  • Hold a Commonwealth passport.
  • Be aged at least 17 years old.
  • Have a grandparent born in the UK (or Isle of Man or the Channel Islands). This includes a grandparent through adoption or a parent’s adoption.
  • You are able and planning to work or (even better) a job offer in the UK, including Northern Island.
  • You have the funds to support yourself and any dependants in the UK.

If you are not eligible you may still be eligible for another type of visa or permit.

Note that a Commonwealth citizen born before 1983 with a parent or grandparent born in the UK or Islands, or who married a man before 1983 who became a British citizen in 1983, might today have right of abode. When assessing eligibility for an Ancestry Visa, we also check your right of abode status.

The Process

The earliest that you can apply is three months before you intend to travel to the UK.  You will need to:

  • Apply outside of the UK in your country of residence.  As part of the application, you will need to prove your identity by providing biometric information.
  • Have copies of the birth certificates for your grandparents and parents (only those through which you are claiming the ancestry) and yourself.
  • Provide evidence of funds.

After a successful application, you will be issued an Entry Clearance visa for you and your family to enter the UK. Once you are in the UK, the next step is to be issued your biometric residence permit, which will be valid for five years from your date of entry.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

To obtain ILR you have to have lived in the UK for five years, spending a maximum of 180 days out of the UK each year. Importantly you will need to meet the good character requirements at the time of applying for ILR.

After holding ILR for 12 months you may be able to qualify for Naturalisation or Registration as a British Citizen.

See our ILR page

Alternatives to an Ancestry Visa

Recent changes to the law have created many more opportunities for children to acquire British citizenship through a father or mother, including adopted children and children of unmarried parents.  There are hundreds of ways to potentially qualify through a parent or grandparent or colonial connection.  Each situation has to be assessed individually.

What if the UK government closes the UK Ancestry route?

If you are already in the UK on a UK Ancestry visa then the good news is that you will not be deported or removed from the UK. You will be able to remain in the same category, and, if needed, apply for an extension if required. The good news is with Brexit firmly settled in, UK Ancestry visa holders will be needed more than ever!

Passportia’s Services for a UK Ancestry Visa

We have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the requirements for an Ancestry Visa and can assist you in submitting a strong application.

We will do a systematic initial evaluation and advise whether you have a potential claim to a UK Ancestry Visa, right of abode in the UK, or British nationality. If you are eligible for an Ancestry Visa and it best suits your needs, we can advise on the preparation and submission of the application.

Many applications for an Ancestry Visa fail because the Home Office is not satisfied with the type of evidence provided for:

  • Legitimate descent from a grandparent
  • A genuine offer of employment in the UK
  • The ability of the applicant to be employed in the UK for over 5 years
  • The ability of the person applying to be able to fund themselves.

Some requirements above are subjective and may be difficult to demonstrate. Passportia can identify the best type of evidence and present it in a way that is most likely to satisfy the Home Office.

Don't hesitate, get in touch with us by completing the form below!


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You were so helpful in answering my questions and I really appreciate your advice. It is extremely difficult to find a service that can offer advice for citizenship issues. I highly recommend your services to anyone seeking help with UK citizenship. Good luck for the future.

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