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UK Ancestry Visa

The UK Ancestry visa scheme is designed to provide Commonwealth citizens who are the close descendants of UK nationals to live and work in the UK. Many individuals living in New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, India, and other Commonwealth countries have close ties to Britain and may even qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after spending 5 years in the UK with an Ancestry visa.

WH Solicitors are highly experienced immigration lawyers with a strong track record for supporting Commonwealth citizens as they progress through the UK visa application process. We can help you to understand and meet all the requirements to give you the best chance of getting approved for a UK Ancestry visa.

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What is a UK Ancestry Visa?

The UK Ancestry visa scheme provides a route for commonwealth citizens with British family heritage to come to the UK. Visas in this category last for an initial period of 5 years, with the option to extend your stay or even apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (or ‘settlement’) after that time.

This is a flexible immigration route since migrants are not restricted in terms of the jobs they can do whilst in the UK, and could even permit their family to join them in the country as dependants.


Requirements for a UK Ancestry Visa

To qualify for a UK Ancestry visa, you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a Commonwealth citizen;
  • Are aged 17 or over;
  • You plan to work in the UK; and
  • You have enough money to support yourself and any dependants you intend to bring with you during your time in the country.

It is also necessary to show that at least one of your grandparents was born in the UK (including on the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands). You may also apply if they were born before 31 March 1922 in what is the present-day Republic of Ireland, or if they were born on a British-registered ship or aircraft carrier. You will usually need to provide the full birth certificate of the parent or grandparent you are relying on to establish ancestry.

It is still possible to claim ancestry if you or your parent were adopted, or if your parents or grandparents were not married. You cannot claim UK ancestry through a relationship with the stepparents of their relatives.

Applicants must also pay the immigration health surcharge, provide tuberculosis test results if they are coming from a listed country, and show a criminal record certificate from any country they have lived in for at least 12 months during the past 10 years.


Visa Conditions

Once a UK Ancestry visa has been granted, migrants are permitted to:

  • work in the UK
  • be self-employed or act as a director of a business
  • study at an educational institution
  • bring an eligible partner and/or children to the country as dependants; and
  • travel abroad and return to the UK.

You are not permitted to:

  • access public funds or apply for most benefits; or
  • switch to this visa category if you came to the UK on another visa.


Indefinite Leave to Remain with a UK Ancestry Visa

You may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after spending 5 years in the UK with a UK Ancestry visa. A successful application will leave you with settled status – allowing you to live, work, and study in the UK with no limit on your stay. You will also be able to apply for benefits if you are eligible, and could even use your settled status to apply for British Citizenship.

For an application to be successful, you must have spent no longer than 180 days outside of the UK during any 12-month period of your time in the country. You will usually need to show that you have sufficient knowledge of the English language, and must pass the Life in the UK test.


How We Can Help?

The UK Ancestry visa scheme allows people with close family ties to the UK to come to the country to work and live. It’s aimed at Commonwealth citizens with British heritage, but it can be difficult to satisfy the eligibility criteria and to prove that your grandparents were born in the UK.

WH Solicitors’ expert immigration lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of the UK Ancestry visa scheme and can provide clear advice that will give you the best chance of getting approved.

For more information, help, and support, contact our team today by calling (+44) 01483 608 786 or by emailing contact@whsolicitors.co.uk.

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UK Ancestry Visa


A UK Ancestry visa allows you to stay in the UK for an initial period of 5 years. After this time, you may then be able to apply to extend your visa for a further 5-year period, or to apply for permanent settlement in the UK (known as Indefinite Leave to Remain).

You cannot switch to an Ancestry visa if you are already in the UK under another category of visa. Applications can still be made from outside of the country in certain circumstances, and our team can provide guidance and support to any migrants who wish to understand whether they qualify for a UK Ancestry visa.

To qualify for a UK Ancestry visa you must be a citizen of a Commonwealth country as listed under in Schedule 3 of the British Natonality Act 1981. Individuals from the following countries may therefore be eligible to apply:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Botswana
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Cyprus
  • Dominica
  • Fiji Islands
  • The Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nauru
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Swaziland
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • Vanuatu
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe


Yes – you may be able to apply for a further 5-year extension of a UK Ancestry visa once your initial term has ended. You may also qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain, subject to meeting certain criteria such as having spent no longer than 180 days outside of the UK during any 12-month period of your stay in the country.

The contents of this webpage are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal advice. All information is correct as of the date of publication, and any individual or organisation should be careful to seek qualified advice from a specialist immigration lawyer before acting on any of the topics referenced by this content.

UK Ancestry Visa



The UK Ancestry category enables Commonwealth citizens who have a one grandparent born in the UK to come to work, study and settle in the UK.


Our Fees

Our fees cover all work* required to submit an application to the Home Office at a fixed fee between £600.00 – £1,200.00. No VAT is charged or payable.

No VAT is charged or payable for Entry Clearance Applications.



Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as visa fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.

The likely disbursements are:

  • Translation fees at £15.00 – £20.00 per If applicable, this kind of application will normally require between 1-2 hours with a Translation, depending on the complexity of your case.
  • DNA Test Reports, these are not required in many cases: we will let you know as soon as possible if we consider an Expert Report is necessary.

Application Fees:

  • Home Office’s Fee: £516.00
  • NHS Immigration Healthcare Surcharge: £624.00 per year
  • Biometric Enrolment Fee: £19.20
  • UKVCAS Fees: Depends on the Application Centre, can range between £0.00 – £200.00


What services are included

The work will involve:

  • File opening/Archiving;
  • All correspondences, emails, routine letters, telephone/video calls and meetings;
  • All inherent Administrative works;
  • Continuously assessing and advising the case;
  • Preparation of the Application Form;
  • Submission of the Application Form;
  • Advising on Dependants and the associated works and fees;
  • Providing a Checklist of required supporting/evidential documents;
  • Facilitating with ascertaining the supporting/evidential documents;
  • Where possible, providing Templates of how the supporting documents should appear to be in compliant with the Immigration provisions;
  • Preparing a comprehensive and legally orientated Cover Letter & Submissions, which shall include comprehensive Factual and Legal Submissions;
  • Arranging Application Appointment;
  • Liaising with UKVI until a decision is reached;
  • Discussing your circumstances in detail and confirming whether this is the most appropriate application for you to make and what other options may be available to you;
  • Providing advice about the requirements of the Immigration Rules and whether you meet the criteria;
  • If you do not fulfil a certain criterion, whether this can be overcome and how.
  • Considering the supporting evidence, you have provided;
  • Where necessary, helping you obtain further evidence;
  • Providing advice regarding the outcome of the Application and any next steps.

*Our fee assumes that:

  • This a new Application and no previous Applications had been made to the Home Office or refusals received.
  • This is a standard case and the matter is concluded in a timely manner and no unforeseen complication arise.

*The costs quoted here do not include:

  • If your matter becomes overly complex and more work is required in order to prepare and submit an Application. We will advise you if further work is required and the increase in our charges.
  • Where the Home Office refuse your Application, advice and assistance in relation to any Appeal steps.


Processing timeframe

We will normally be able to submit this type of Application within 4 weeks of you instructing us. However, we will let you know at the earliest opportunity if it is likely to take longer than this.

We cannot guarantee how long the Home Office will take to process your Application, but you should get a decision within 3 weeks of attending your appointment at the visa application centre.

Please see the link for up to date timescales: Visa decision waiting times: applications outside the UK – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)