Ancestry Visa

If you are a Commonwealth citizen and have a grandparent who was born in the United Kingdom, you could be eligible for a UK Ancestry Visa. You must be able to provide proof that one of your grandparents was born in the UK and is your blood grandparent or grandparent by reason of a UK recognised adoption. Your grandparent must have been born:

  • in the UK (this includes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)
  • in what is now the Republic of Ireland before 31 March 1922, or
  • on a British registered ship or aircraft

Your grandparent may be in either the legitimate or illegitimate line. This means that they or their relevant parent’s birth may be either within or outside marriage. You can live and work in the UK for a period of up to five years with an Ancestry visa, as well as exit and re-enter the UK freely on multiple occasions.


To be eligible, you must show that:

  • You are a Commonwealth citizen
  • You are aged 17 years or over
  • You have a grandparent who was born in the UK
  • You are able to work
  • You intend to take employment in the UK
  • You are able to support and house yourself and any dependants without recourse to any public funding

Employment/seeking employment requirement

An applicant in the UK ancestry category must prove that they can work and intend to take or seek employment in the UK. For the applicant to meet this requirement, they must satisfy they either:

  • have a job in the UK
  • genuinely intend to look for a job (or become self-employed) and are realistically able to do this.

The applicant need only demonstrate they are able to work and genuinely intend to seek employment.

Adoption Cases

If the applicant or their parent is adopted, they will meet this requirement if they can prove one of the following:

  • they have been adopted by someone who has a parent born in the UK
  • one of their parents was adopted by someone born in the UK
  • their grandparents by birth (blood grandparents) were born in the UK

The adoption must be through an adoption process recognised as valid for the purposes of UK law. An applicant cannot claim UK ancestry through stepparents.

Maintenance and accommodation

The applicant is required to maintain and accommodate themselves and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds. Usually, funds have to be in the applicants account maintained for a minimum of 3 months.


Ancestry visas are normally issued for five years. At the end of that period, if you have lived in the UK continuously – spending fewer than 180 consecutive days outside of the country – you may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

If you have an Ancestry visa that was issued before April 2006, this period will most likely be for four years. If your Ancestry visa is for four years, you may apply for a one-year extension and then for ILR.

After spending 12 months on ILR, you may be eligible to naturalise as a British citizen and gain British citizenship.

Family Members

You may bring your spouse, partner and/or dependent children with you. They are allowed to stay for the same time as you are and there usually aren’t any restrictions relating to their employment. Spouses, unmarried partners (who have cohabited for two years or more) and children under 18 of the main applicants are allowed to apply at the same time or join the main applicant in the UK.

Further information, help, and advice

As one of the leading immigration solicitors in Holborn London, we also work on a broad range of other immigration application with an experienced in-house team of solicitors to represent applicants who have grounds to apply for visas that involve marriage, civil partnership, asylum, human rights, and the European Union free movement. To check if you qualify, call us on 0203 909 8399 or contact us online.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I am descended by adoption does this count?

Adoption allows for descent from the grandparent to the parent, and from the parent to the applicant. The grandparent, on the other hand, must have been born in the United Kingdom. You won’t be able to track back to a grandparent who was solely adopted in the United Kingdom. Adoption must take place through a legally recognised process in the United Kingdom.

Can an Ancestry Visa be issued more than once?

Yes, this is usually required only if the individual did not obtain indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship, or subsequently lost that status. Any previous leave is automatically terminated if a new visa is utilised.

Does the descent have to be legitimate?

No, the descent can include through the father of an illegitimate child where he is proved to be the father.

Can I still use my Ancestry Visa if I am married?

Yes. It is actually easier to sponsor using the Ancestry visa than if you are a British citizen as there is no minimum income threshold.

I don’t have a job, can I still apply?

Many people believe that in order to enter the UK on an Ancestry visa, you must have work lined up. This is not the case. You must be ‘looking for a job’ in order to meet the application requirements. This implies you can apply for a UK Ancestry Visa even if you don’t have a job lined up. You will meet the requirements if you register with recruitment agencies and begin looking for work as soon as you arrive in the UK.

I can’t raise the funds to sustain myself in the UK for Ancestry Visa

When applying for an Ancestry visa you must have around £1200 – £1600 in your account 90 days prior to your date of application. Many people may be concerned about this when applying for an Ancestry Visa because they may not be able to get the money through their own means. Many individuals are unaware, however, that you do not have to raise this money on your own. A sponsor is used by many candidates to get cash. It’s up to you whether this person is a parent, a colleague, or a friend. To do so, your sponsor must provide a letter to UKVI confirming that they would act as your guarantor during your stay in the country.

I don’t have my grandparent’s original birth certificate.

Don’t worry if you don’t have your grandparents’ birth certificates. Documents can be obtained from the appropriate ancestry archives. This can be done by submitting a data request, which can be done promptly with the help of an immigration lawyer by submitting an official Subject Access Request for Data (S.A.R). The necessary authorities will then identify and send you a copy of the relevant grandparent’s birth certificate.

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