If you are a Commonwealth citizen and have a grandparent who was born in the UK, you may be able to live and work in the UK on the basis of your UK Ancestry. A UK Ancestry visa can only be obtained from outside the UK.
Requirements for a UK Ancestry visa
In order to qualify for a UK Ancestry visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
In addition to satisfying a maintenance and accommodation requirement, you will also need to satisfy the Home Office that you are able to work and intend to take or seek employment or self-employment in the United Kingdom.
The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances. You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
Demonstrating UK Ancestry
An important part of any UK Ancestry visa application is establishing that the applicant has a UK born grandparent.
The grandparent must have been born in the UK (which includes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man), in what is now known as the Republic of Ireland provided that the grandparent was born there before 31 March 1922 or on a British registered ship or aircraft. Birth in a British colony or a military base overseas (Akrotiri, for example) will not be acceptable.
UK Ancestry following adoption and birth outside marriage
You can claim UK Ancestry if the grandparent that you are relying on is your blood grandparent or a grandparent by reason of an adoption that is recognised by the UK. In other words either you or the relevant parent may have been adopted.
Unlike claims to British citizenship (albeit with a few exceptions), the relevant parentage need not be legitimate; meaning that the grandparents, parents or your own birth may have been either within or outside of marriage.
UK Ancestry cannot be claimed through step-parents.
UK Ancestry visa and intention to work
You do not have to be working at the time you apply for a UK Ancestry visa, but you must be able to prove that you can work and genuinely intend to take or seek employment in the UK.
You will either need to have a job offer in the UK or be able to satisfy the Home Office that you genuinely intend to seek employment/self-employment and have a realistic prospect of doing so. Your age and health will be important factors when assessing whether this requirement is met.
Can I apply for a UK Ancestry visa whilst in the UK?
UK Ancestry visas can only be obtained from outside the UK. It is not possible to apply for leave to remain or switch into the Ancestry category if you are already in the UK in another visa category.
Visa processing timeline
The earliest you can apply for a UK Ancestry visa is 3 months before you travel.
You should generally receive a decision on your application within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.
Conditions of stay
If your application for an Ancestry visa is successful, you will be able to work, study and bring your dependant family members to the UK.
There are generally no restrictions on the type of work you can do in the UK. You may wish to work in paid employment, set up your own business, or do both.
Indefinite Leave to Remain on the basis of UK Ancestry
If your application for a UK Ancestry visa is successful, you will be granted leave to enter the UK for a period of up to 5 years.
After 5 years residence in the UK, you will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain. In order to qualify for ILR, you must be able to provide evidence that you have been working or genuinely seeking work during the past five years.
You will also need to have spent not more than 180 days outside the UK in any of the previous 5 years and demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the English language and Life in the UK.