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Ancestry Visa

If you are a Commonwealth Citizen with an ancestral link to the UK through one or more of your grandparents, then it is likely to be the case that you will be eligible to apply for an ancestry visa to allow you to live and work in the UK. This route provides more flexibility than the points-based route such as Tier 2 which has more stringent requirements and is limiting due to being tied to a sponsor. 


In order to be eligible, an Applicant must be:

  • A Commonwealth Citizen
  • Aged 17 or over
  • One of their grandparents was born in the UK, including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man and was a blood grandparent (or grandparent by an adoption)
  • They can work and intend to take or seek employment in the UK
  • They can maintain and accommodate themselves and any dependants in the UK with recourse to public funds

Commonwealth Citizen 

There are currently 53 Commonwealth members. An Applicant must be a Commonwealth Citizen at the date of the application. Evidence such as a valid passport must be provided. Please note this means that you do not necessarily have been born a Commonwealth Citizen and you can apply even if you hold dual nationality with a non-Commonwealth country. 

Grandparents born in the UK/Islands 

  • The Applicant’s grandparent must have been born in the UK which includes the Channel Islands and Isle of Man; or
  • If the Applicant’s grandparent was born before 31 March 1922 in the land which is now the Republic of Ireland; or
  • The Applicant’s grandparent was born on a British registered ship or aircraft. 

Grandparent by blood or adoption 

The Applicant’s grandparent may be in either the legitimate or illegitimate line. The grandparent must be related to the applicant either as a direct blood relative, or through a formal adoption process recognised in the UK. In addition, an Applicant cannot claim UK ancestry through step-parents. Documents which show the family link between an Applicant and the UK born grandparent includes:

  • The Applicant’s own birth certificate listing the names of both parents
  • The birth certificate of the parent who has links to the UK, showing the names of their parents
  • The birth certificate of the UK born grandparent

Intend to take or seek employment 

The purpose of the ancestry visa is to allow Commonwealth citizens to work in the UK. Therefore, an Applicant must have an intention to seek or take up employment in the UK upon arrival in the UK. Evidence must be provided to show that the Applicant has confirmed employment in the UK. If they do not have confirmed employment in the UK, then they must provide evidence of their capability to take up employment in the UK. This could be shown through CVs, certificates of qualifications, evidence of registration with recruitment agencies and if self-employed; business plans and previous company accounts if applicable. 


Dependants are permitted to join the Applicant and will be granted leave in line with the Applicant’s.


This visa route does not require an Applicant to hold a minimum level of funds at the time of making an application. There is a requirement to show that an Applicant can support themselves and any dependants without recourse to public funds in the UK. Although they do not need to provide detailed evidence of where they will be living on arrival to the UK.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

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+44 118 960 4605

Dependants are permitted to join the Applicant and will be granted leave in line with the Applicant’s.


An application for an ancestry visa can only be made from outside of the UK and therefore it must be an entry clearance application. Applicants are unable to switch into this category from inside the UK. If an applicant is granted entry clearance, then they will granted leave for up to 5 years.


  • The Applicant may be required to register with the police.
  • Studying in the UK is allowed. Depending on the course, the migrant may need to obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate.
  • The migrant cannot receive public funds.


An Applicant can apply for further leave to remain in the UK for a further 5 years.


An Applicant can apply for settlement following 5 years of lawful residence in the UK. Although an Applicant will be required to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of English language and life in the UK when applying for settlement.

It is important to ensure that sufficient evidence is submitted at the outset to prevent a refusal. If you would like more information on which documents will be suitable to submit as part of the application or would like further information on this visa route, then please contact our experienced immigration team.

About this article

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

About this article

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