already a member?   login »
username password

UK Ancestry Visa

The British Ancestry Visa allows Commonwealth citizens with a British ancestor (going back as far as a grandparent) to live and work in the UK. By contacting the British diplomatic post (embassy, high commission etc) in your home country you can apply for the visa which permits you to stay and work for up to five years.

In this page we simply uncover all the important things you need to know (without pages of stuff you don't!).

We also have a handy step-by-step DIY guide (opens new page).

Quick Links and FAQs

If you have questions not covered here or our FAQs page.


Do I qualify for the Ancestral Visa?

To qualify you must:

  1. be a citizen of a Commonwealth country (Although not limited to these countries, common applicants come from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa)
  2. be at least 17 years old
  3. be able to work and intend to work
  4. have the ability to support yourself without resorting to public funds
  5. have a grandparent who was born in the UK (including the republic of Ireland before 1922)

If you have already entered the UK on another kind of visa, you can't switch to the ancestry category - you must exit the UK and re-apply.

*You will need to show your full original birth certificate as well as the full original birth certificate of both the parent and the grandparent you are claiming ancestry through.

**If you or your parent (who you are claiming ancestry through) are adopted, you can still apply for entry clearance under this category. You must show evidence of the legal adoption with your application form.

Restrictions: There are no restrictions on type or duration of work under the Ancestral visa.

Enough funds to “support yourself” and “intend to work”

You must prove “you can support yourself and any dependants without needing any help from public funds” and you must “intend to work or look for a job in the UK” to qualify.

There is no hard and fast rule but rather applications are reviewed on a case by case basis.


In general, the UK government does not want to issue this visa to people who don't met minimum financial requirements: Basically they want to ensure applicants have enough savings to support themselves (and any dependents) until they get a job.

Therefore, if you have enough savings to support yourself for a few months they will likely not worry too much if you don't have a job before you arrive.

However if you do not have a job to go to (most people don't) your savings and intent to work become far more important.

As a rule of thumb, for a single person (no dependents) they currently want to see proof of £1600 in savings for the Tier 5 — Youth Mobility Visa. Therefore, if you had at least this amount (though ideally a little more) and can show that you are actively looking for a job you should be fine.

Intent to work

Another important part of the application process involves supplying documentation proving that you are looking for work. To help, we assist with this free of charge for all WORKgateways applicants. Simply email and request it after you have applied to suitable jobs or registered with us. Please ensure your address is included on either the email in your resume so we can produce the letter.

Do I have to be outside of the UK to apply?

If you have not entered the UK based on "ancestry clearance" previously, then you must apply for the visa from the country where you currently live. 

How do I apply?

  1. Yourself: Apart from the information on this page, check out our step-by-step guide to do-it-yourself visa applications. For most people, DIY is a perfectly good way to go.
  2. Visa Service: If you would like assistance with your visa (or simply don't like lots of paperwork), a travellers company with a visa service may be a good option for you. Here is information to helps you to compare two of the largest visa services offered.

I'm also eligible for the Tier 1 highly skilled workers visa...which is best for me?

Both the Ancestry and the Tier 1 highly skilled workers visa (**suspended since late 2010**) are designed to lead you towards permanent migration to the UK. After five years in the UK under either visa, you can apply for ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain.’ The Tier 1 visa has higher processing fees, so if you can qualify for a British Ancestry Visa that may be a better option. You can find out more information about the Tier 1 visa here.

What happens when my Visa comes to an end?

If you have used up your five-year visa entirely (i.e. lived and worked in the UK continuously for five years under the ancestry visa category) you can apply to stay permanently in the UK. Or if you just want to extend your stay, you can also apply to do that.

Have more questions? They might be answered in our VISA FAQs.