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Apply for a UK Ancestry visa

Commonwealth citizens over the age of 17 with a UK-born grandparent qualify for the UK Ancestry visa. This is one of the most sought-after UK visas as it allows the holder to live and work in the UK for a period of five years. After five years you can begin to apply for indefinite leave to remain, which can lead to full British citizenship.

Do you qualify for a UK Ancestry visa?

If all of the following UK Ancestry visa requirements apply to you, you qualify for a visa:

  • You are aged 17 or over
  • One of your grandparents was born in the UK
  • You are a Commonwealth citizen
  • You intend to seek work in the UK
  • You are able to support and house yourself and any dependants without relying on public funding

You may bring your spouse, partner and/or dependant children under the age of 18 with you to the UK. Your partner has no restrictions relating to their employment rights. This is far more lenient than many UK partner visas.

The UK Ancestry visa application process

You must apply for a UK Ancestry visa from your home country. You are expected to enter the UK shortly after the visa is issued. The visa is issued for 30 days, during which time you must enter the country and collect your biometric residence permit.

The definition of the UK includes:

  • The UK mainland (England, Wales, Scotland)
  • Northern Ireland

Adopted children are eligible so as long as their adoptive grandparent was born in the UK.

Extensions and reapplying

It is possible to extend an Ancestry visa, as long as you still meet the qualifying criteria. Your UK Ancestry visa can be extended from within the UK or from your home country.

What if the UK Ancestry visa class is scrapped?

Most years, rumours circulate that UK immigration authorities are planning to scrap the British Ancestry visa class. While it has yet to happen, it is a concern that many of our clients have.

The good news is that, if you already hold a UK Ancestry visa when the class is removed, you can apply for an extension before the existing visa expires. The Home Office must apply the same criteria as when you first obtained your Ancestry visa. However, we still recommend that you apply for your Ancestry visa as soon as possible, to ensure that you don’t lose the right to do so. 

If you need assistance with your UK Ancestry visa, our team can help.

Indefinite leave to remain

The any time spent in the UK on an ancestral visa counts as qualifying time towards indefinite leave to remain (ILR), which can lead to British citizenship.

Read more about ILR

Apply for a UK Ancestry visa from Australia

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The Ancestry visa allows you to live and work in the UK for up to five years. During this time, you will be able to exit and re-enter the country whenever you choose.

How you can qualify for an Ancestry visa?

  • You need to be a Commonwealth citizen
  • You must be 17 years or older
  • One of your grandparents must have been born in the UK
  • You need to be able to work
  • You must intend to be employed in the UK
  • You must be able to support and house yourself and any dependants without relying on public funding

Getting UK residency and citizenship

If you’re an Australian citizen over 17 years old and you have a grandparent who was born in the UK (including in Southern Ireland before 31 March 1922), you can apply for the Ancestry visa.

The visa is valid for five years and allows you to enter and exit the UK multiple times during that period. If you’re granted an Ancestry visa, you may live and work in the UK throughout its validity.

To apply for this visa you will need to provide original birth certificates for yourself, your parent and grandparent who hold the ancestral link. You also need to show that you intend to work in the UK and will be able to support yourself without recourse to UK public funds. We recommend you have at least $5,000 in your bank account when you apply.

If you satisfy the residency requirements, you may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) when the visa comes to an end. Please note that you must meet certain residency requirements before you can apply ILR.

If you hold an Australian or New Zealand passport, we can assist you with your visa application.

Visa assessment

Do you think you may qualify for an Ancestry visa? Complete our visa assessment to find out.

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Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services Licence issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS Licence number 335 126).

Please note: Sable International is a trading name of Philip Gamble and Co. Ltd. Philip Gamble and Co. Ltd is registered in the UK with the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC) under no. F2001-00004. Our staff based outside of the UK are not regulated by the OISC and may be involved in some client casework. However, they work to the same high standards as our UK staff and clients receive the same service regardless of which office they engage with.

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