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UK Ancestry Visa Guide 2022

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With British newspapers reporting on the UK government’s plans to again change UK immigration rules, our immigration solicitors take another look at the ancestry visa as an option for those looking to live and work in the UK with the long-term intention to settle in the UK.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Ancestry Visa Lawyers

For advice on ancestry visa and indefinite leave to remain applications call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Commonwealth citizens and the ancestry visa

The ancestry visa is restricted to commonwealth citizen applicants who meet the eligibility criteria. If you are not from the commonwealth our immigration solicitors can discuss your best visa options, such as a family visa or work visa, or a specialist visa such as a British national (overseas) visa or start-up visa.

If you pass the initial commonwealth eligibility criteria for an ancestry visa then the remaining eligibility criteria are:

  • You are aged 17 or over
  • One of your grandparents was born in the UK and you can prove their birth in the UK
  • You intend to work and are able to work in the UK
  • You can meet the maintenance requirement- the maintenance requirement means you must be able to show you have funds of at least £1,270 and that you have held them for at least 28 days
  • You can meet the accommodation requirement - to meet the accommodation requirement, you do not need to own or rent a house but you do need to have accommodation available to you, such as evidence that you can stay with a friend or family member

What is the ancestry visa ancestry requirement?

To qualify for an ancestry visa your grandparent must have been born either:

  • In the UK – this includes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
  • In the Republic of Ireland before 31 March 1922
  • On a British-registered aircraft or ship

You will not qualify for an ancestry visa if:

  • Your grandparent is your step-grandparent or
  • Your grandparent was born in a British colony or
  • Your grandparent was born in an overseas army base or military base

You will be within the eligibility criteria if your parents or grandparents were not married or if you are not a biological child of the relative you are seeking an ancestry visa through but you were legally adopted by the family (therefore step-children are eligible to apply for an ancestry visa if officially adopted).

Can you work in the UK on an ancestry visa?

If you secure an ancestry visa you can work in the UK for the duration of your visa. You can work for an employer or set up your own business. If you find an employed job there are no restrictions on the type of job you can get and you don’t need a sponsoring employer with a Home Office-issued sponsor licence. That gives you far more flexibility in employment options than the skilled worker visa where you need a certificate of sponsorship and a sponsoring employer throughout the duration of your work visa.

Importantly, with the ancestry visa, there is no minimum salary threshold to meet if you work in the UK and no skill criteria. The only eligibility criteria you need to meet is that you must intend to work and be able to work in the UK.

Switching to the ancestry visa

If you are in the UK and you realise that you meet the ancestry visa eligibility criteria and that the visa would be your best flexible visa option the immigration rules say that you can't apply to switch visa to the ancestry visa. That’s because ancestry visa applications need to be made from outside the UK.

Paperwork needed to apply for an ancestry visa

If you are applying from overseas for your ancestry visa you will need to have supporting documents to secure your visa. You will need:

  • Your current passport or a valid travel document
  • Your birth certificate – this needs to be the full version of the certificate and not the abridged version
  • The full birth certificates of the parent and the grandparent that you are relying on to prove your ancestral claim to an ancestry visa
  • If the relatives you are relying on to prove your claim were married then you need to provide their marriage certificates
  • If you or your parent were adopted you need to produce the relevant adoption certificate
  • Evidence you meet the maintenance requirement and the accommodation requirement
  • TB certificate – this is only needed if you come from a country where the UK immigration rules say that you need to produce a TB  certificate
  • Evidence that you intend to work in the UK – you do not have to have a job offer from a UK employer to apply for the visa but a job offer helps to show that you intend to work whilst in the UK

Home Office fees for the ancestry visa

Applying for the ancestry visa involves 2 types of fees:

  • The Home Office application fee
  • The immigration health surcharge – this fee is payable even if you do not intend to use the NHS because you have taken out private health coverage or because your employer provides private health insurance. The fee is based on the length of your visa but the immigration health surcharge is payable in full upfront rather than annually

In addition to these fees if you want to bring family members with you then they will be able to join you if they meet the dependant visa eligibility criteria and you can pay the dependant visa fees.

Appealing an ancestry visa refusal

Ancestry visa applications can be refused by the Home Office for many reasons. For example, you could have forgotten to supply a relevant birth certificate or failed to meet the precise maintenance requirement rules, or not provided sufficient evidence that you intend to work whilst in the UK.

There is no right of appeal against the refusal of an ancestry visa application but you can:

  • Apply for an administrative review of the refusal decision
  • Make a fresh application for another ancestry visa
  • Make an application for a different type of visa, such as a spouse visa, family visa, or skilled worker visa

There are time limits to apply for an administrative review so if your ancestry visa has been refused speak to immigration solicitors as soon as possible so you can understand your best immigration options. Call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123.

The length of an ancestry visa

An ancestry visa lasts up to 5 years. You can apply to extend your ancestry visa for another 5 years. There are no limits to the number of visa extension applications that you can make.

If you are applying to extend your ancestry visa it is vital to submit your application before your current visa expires so you do not end up classed as an overstayer by the Home Office. If your current ancestry visa has expired contact ancestry visa solicitors for advice on your options.

Settling in the UK on an ancestry visa

After 5 years in the UK on an ancestry visa, you can apply to settle in the UK by securing indefinite leave to remain. To get ILR you need to meet the 5-year ILR residence requirement. You may not meet the indefinite leave to remain eligibility criteria if you have spent extensive periods outside the UK. For specialist immigration advice on the residence requirement and whether your absences from the UK still qualify you to apply for ILR, call our indefinite leave to remain lawyers on 0203 959 9123.

Once you have had indefinite leave to remain status for at least 12 months you can go on to apply for (or to register for) British citizenship should you choose to do so. However, whether you remain in the UK with indefinite leave to remain or with British citizenship you can live in the UK free of immigration controls.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Ancestry Visa Lawyers

For advice on ancestry visa applications or converting your ancestry visa to indefinite leave to remain call the immigration team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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