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McGill & Co is a Scottish immigration law firm specialising in UK immigration, nationality and refugee law.

What is the UK ancestry visa?

16 October 2020 Grace McGill Blog

 An ancestry visa is a visa that will allow a Commonwealth citizen with ancestral links to the United Kingdom to live and work in the UK and to be allowed to bring family members to live with you. An Ancestry Visa offers full freedom to work in the UK, including working as a self-employed person or starting your own business.



Who is eligible?

You will be eligible to apply for an ancestry visa if you meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

  • You are aged 17 and over
  • You are a Commonwealth citizen
  • You are able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK , Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, or born prior to 31 March 1922  in what is now the Republic of Ireland
  • You are able and planning to work in the UK
  • You are able to satisfy the maintenance and accommodation requirement, ie; you have sufficient funds without recourse to public funds to support and house yourself and any dependants

You can claim ancestry even if either you or the relevant parent were adopted, or born outside marriage in the UK but ancestry cannot be claimed through step-parents.

 What documents are needed?

  • Your full birth certificate
  • The full birth certificates of the parent and grandparent that your ancestry claim is based on
  • The marriage certificates for your parents and grandparents if they were married
  • The legal adoption papers if you or the parent that your ancestry claim is based on are adopted


If your application for a UK ancestry visa is successful you will be granted permission to remain in the UK for five years. At the conclusion of this five year period you will then be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) provided that:

You continue to meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules for UK ancestry, and

You have spent five years continuously in the UK and can show that you have an employment history throughout that five year period. If you intend to apply for ILR you should not spend more than 180 days per year outside the UK during this five year period.

If at the end of your five year ancestry visa you do not meet all of the ILR qualifying criteria you may apply for an extension to your ancestry visa.


Your UK Ancestry visa will cost £516 with the Healthcare Surcharge also payable.

General grounds for refusal

In all cases, you must check that the applicant does not fall for refusal under thegeneral grounds for refusal in paragraphs 320 to 322 of the Immigration Rules.


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