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Why you want to get your hands on a UK Ancestry visa

by John Dunn | May 22, 2018
  • When it comes to UK visas, there’s one that remains universally popular: The UK Ancestry visa. There are many reasons why this visa is often thought to be the best visa for people looking to live and work in the UK. From the relatively easy to satisfy eligibility requirements, to the fact that it lets you bring your partner with you to the UK, it’s little wonder this visa is so prized among people with British-born grandparents.
    UK flag and crown cupcakes

    Are you eligible for the UK Ancestry visa?

    An Ancestral visa allows you to live and work in the UK for five years. Many people around the world are eligible for a UK Ancestry visa, yet may not be aware of how easily they can apply for one. You can apply for this visa if you:

    • Have a grandparent who was born in the UK*
    • Are a Commonwealth citizen
    • Are 17 years or older
    • Are planning to seek work in the UK
    • Are applying from outside of the UK
    • Are able to support and house yourself and any dependants without relying on public funds

    *Including the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland.

    This visa is incredibly popular with South Africans, Aussies and Kiwis with familial ties to the UK, as all of these countries are a part of the Commonwealth.

    Are you eligible for this visa?

    Living and working in the UK (almost) without restriction

    The key benefit of the UK Ancestry visa is that you are allowed to work in whatever field you wish without restriction. This is a major perk for anyone looking to advance or start their career in the UK. You can change jobs without approval from the Home Office and your employers don’t need to worry about your visa status.

    Travel in and out of the UK is also extremely painless when you hold this visa. You may exit and re-enter the UK multiple times without putting your visa status at risk, which is important should you need to travel for work.

    The Ancestry visa and British citizenship

    The Ancestry visa allows you to stay in the UK for five years, and after that five-year period you could be eligible for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). ILR will be granted if you have lived in the UK continuously for five years on your Ancestry visa and haven’t spent more than 180 days per year outside of the country during this time.

    ILR is just a few steps away from full British citizenship. So, obtaining an Ancestry visa is a relatively simple route to eventually claiming a British passport.

    Bring a partner or family members with you

    When you apply for your Ancestry visa, you can also apply to bring your family members and/or partner with you. They will enjoy the same rights as you do on your visa as dependants.

    A dependant can be either your married or unmarried partner, and any of your children under the age of 18 (adopted or biological). Their visa will also be valid for five years, after which they too can apply for ILR. What’s more, no matter how long your dependants have been in the UK, they will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain at the same time as you.

    Do you want to bring a dependant to the UK?

    It is best to include your dependants in your application when you apply for your Ancestry visa. However, you can apply for a dependant to join you on your Ancestry visa at any time during your stay in the UK.

    Consider the following example: If you want your girlfriend or boyfriend to join you in the UK after you’ve been living in the UK for two years on an Ancestry visa, they will be able to join you as a dependant. You will both be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain after just three years in the UK.

    Do note, these kinds of applications can get tricky. The Home Office will require a lot of evidence proving that you are in a genuine relationship. This will require producing all sorts of documents and other pieces of proof. It’s best to get the advice of a registered immigration caseworker who can ensure your application gets an “approved” stamp the first time around. Failure in an application will be costly and could prejudice future applications you make to the Home Office.

    UK Ancestry visa financial requirements

    When applying for an Ancestry visa, you need to have around £1,200 to £1,600 in your account 90 days prior to your date of application. You will need to provide three months’ worth of bank statements to prove that you have these funds available to you. This financial requirement is to prove to the Home Office that you are capable of sustaining yourself and any dependants in the UK without attempting to make use of public funds.

    UK Ancestry visa renewal

    Should you need to extend your Ancestry visa, You will need to apply to extend before your current visa expires. Any dependants who are on your current visa should be included on your application to extend – including any children who have turned 18 during your time in the UK. Although you can apply to extend your UK Ancestry visa, you and any dependants will be eligible for indefinite leave to remain after living in the UK for five years on an Ancestry visa. Indefinite leave to remain eventually leads to British citizenship, so this is a preferred option for those looking to gain a British passport.

    UK Ancestry visa processing time

    The earliest you can apply for your UK Ancestry visa is three months before you wish to travel to the UK. Depending on how your application is presented and whether you have provided all the relevant documentation, you should receive a decision on your visa within three weeks when you apply from outside the UK.


    The UK Ancestry visa opens all kinds of doors for Commonwealth citizens. Our UK immigration advisors can help you, and your dependants, apply for one. Pop us an email on immigration@sableinternational.com and we’ll help you out.

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

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