What is a UK Ancestry Visa?


Ancestry visa is a visa issued by the United Kingdom to Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Ireland. Should you qualify, you will be granted a 5-year visa.


You can also apply for a UK Ancestry visa if you’re one of the following:


  • a British overseas citizen
  • a British Overseas Territories citizen
  • a British national (overseas)
  • a Commonwealth citizen
  • Citizen of Zimbabwe


Which are the eligible Commonwealth countries?


The following countries are part of the Commonwealth Countries and citizens of these countries may be eligible to apply for the Ancestry Visa:


Antigua and Barbuda Dominica Malawi Papua New Guinea Swaziland
Australia Fiji Islands Malaysia Samoa Tonga
The Bahamas The Gambia Maldives Seychelles Trinidad and Tobago
Bangladesh Ghana Malta Sierra Leone Tuvalu
Barbados Grenada Mauritius Singapore Uganda
Belize Guyana Mozambique Solomon Islands United Kingdom


Botswana India Namibia South Africa United Republic of Tanzania
Brunei Darussalam Jamaica Nauru Sri Lanka Vanuatu
Cameroon Kenya New Zealand St Kitts and Nevis Zambia
Canada Kiribati Nigeria St Lucia


Cyprus Lesotho Pakistan St Vincent and the Grenadines


Where to find the rules ?


The relevant Immigration Rules are contained in Appendix UK Ancestry of the Immigration Rules.


This guide will briefly explain the general requirements that must be met to apply for Ancestry visa. All validity requirements for the UK Ancestry route must be strictly met otherwise the application will be rejected as invalid and not considered.


UK Ancestry Visa Guidance - Lisa's Law Blog


What are the requirements?


  • In order to qualify for a UK Ancestry visa, you must show that you have a grandparent born in one of the following circumstances:


  1. Born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  2. Born before 31 March 1922 in what is now Ireland
  3. on a ship or aircraft that was either registered in the UK or belonged to the UK government


You can claim ancestry if:


  • you or your parent were adopted
  • your parents or grandparents were not married


You cannot claim UK ancestry through step-parents.


You must also show that you satisfy the following requirements:


  • are aged 17 or over
  • a British overseas citizen
  • a British Overseas Territories citizen
  • a British national (overseas)
  • a Commonwealth citizen
  • a citizen of Zimbabwe
  • have enough money without help from public funds to support and house yourself and any dependants
  • can and plan to work in the UK
  • If you are from one of the countries where a tuberculosis test is required, then you will need to provide your TB results


Partner and children


  • Your partner and children can apply to join you in the UK as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible.


A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:


  • your partner
  • your child under 18
  • your child aged 18 or over who was previously on your or your partner’s visa as a dependant


You’ll need to provide evidence of your relationship when you apply.


You must be able to prove one of the following for your partner:


  • you’re in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK
  • you’ve been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when you apply


Your child must:


  • live with you (unless they’re in full time education at boarding school, college or university)
  • not be married, in a civil partnership or have any children
  • be supported by you without using public funds


The applicant must meet the following requirements for a dependent child in Appendix Children:


(a) relationship requirement: entry clearance and permission to stay; and

(b) care requirement; and

(c) age and independent life requirement


An application which does not meet all the validity requirements for a partner or child on the UK Ancestry route may be rejected as invalid and not considered.


Process and timeframe


Once you application has been submitted, you will need to book a biometric appointment so that you can attend a visa centre to submit your biometrics. You will not be able to submit any further documents after your biometrics have been submitted and your application will be under consideration.


Presently, the Home Office can take up to 3 weeks from your biometric submission date to decide an application made for the first time unless there is a delay.


Fast Track Option


Depending on the services available at your local visa application centre, you may be able to pay an additional fee of £500 for the priority service (for a decision within 5 working days) or £1,000 (after 4 October 2023) for the super-priority services (for a decision by the end of the next working day).




You will need to make payment of both the Home Office fee and Immigration Health Surcharge when your application to the Home Office is ready to submit. Presently, the fees are as follows:


Application Home Office fee Immigration Health Surcharge
Applying for entry clearance £637 (after 4 October) £624 per year
Applying within the UK £1,048 £624 per year


Please note that when applying for entry clearance, the actual fee paid may be higher due to payment being processed in the local currency.


Ancestry Visa – Granted


Should your application for Ancestry visa be granted you will be granted a visa for 5 years.


You will be eligible to enter and live in the UK within this time. You will be able work without any restrictions and study in the UK.


You cannot:


  • change (‘switch’) into this visa if you came to the UK on a different visa
  • get public funds


When can you apply for settlement?


If you met all the Ancestry visa requirements, then you can apply for settlement after holding the visa for 5 years. If you did not meet the requirements, then you can apply after 10 years.


You will also need to have spent not more than 180 days outside the UK in any of the previous 5 years and demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the English language and Life in the UK.


For a dependent child on the UK Ancestry route who wants to apply for settlement, the applicant must meet the following requirements for a dependent child in Appendix Children:


(a) care requirement; and

(b) age and independent life requirement


Below we have highlighted some of the common questions we receive in relation to the Ancestry Visa process:


1) Do I qualify for a UK Ancestry Visa?


Under the Ancestry Visa requirements, you have to be 17 years of age or over and a citizen of a commonwealth country.


2) How many times can I apply for an ancestry visa?


The Ancestral visa is granted for five years. After that time, you can apply to extend your visa or you can apply for UK indefinite leave to remain if you can show five years’ continuous UK residence.


3) Can I switch from my current visa to the UK Ancestry Visa?


You are able to switch unless you are presently on the following:

  • on a Visitor visa
  • on a Short-term study visa
  • on a Parent of a Child Student visa
  • on a Seasonal Worker visa
  • on a Domestic Workers in a Private Household visa
  • on Immigration Bail
  • because you were given permission to stay outside the immigration rules, for example on compassionate grounds


Should your circumstances fit into the above, then you will need to leave the UK and make an application from abroad.


4) Can I claim state benefits?


No, you are not permitted to claim public funds.


5) Are there any restrictions on Employment?


You can take any kind of employment or self-employment. The work can be full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid.


6) Can I study?


There is no limit on the number of hours you can study or level of course they can do. Study may be undertaken anywhere you choose and does not have to be with a licensed Student sponsor.


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