The UK Ancestry Visa allows Commonwealth citizens with UK 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 Ancestry Visa which permits you to stay and work for up to five years in the UK.
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Quick Links and FAQs
- Do I qualify for the Ancestry Visa?
- Requirements — funds to “support yourself” and “intend to work”
- Do I have to be in my home country to apply?
- How do I apply?
- I'm also eligible for a Tier 1 — highly skilled work visa.. which visa is best for me?
- What happens when my Ancestry Visa ends?
|If you have questions not covered here or our FAQs page.|
Unless you are offered a job in a shortage occupation, it is not easy to find a sponsor for a Tier 2 visa from outside the UK. If you are not in a shortage occupation and wish to apply for a visa from outside the UK, then Tier 1 (general) or Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) could be better options for you. In certain industries, a recruitment agency may be able to help you find a sponsor. A UK visa through sponsorship is also a common route for working holiday makers who wish to continue working for their current UK employer when their Tier 5 working holiday visa expires. Gaining sponsorship with a UK employer is generally easier when you are already in the UK mainly because they can meet with you in person.
To qualify you must:
- be a citizen of a Commonwealth country
- be at least 17 years old
- be able to work and intend to work
- have the ability to support yourself without resorting to public funds
- 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 visa category - you must exist 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 Ancestry visa.
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 for the Ancestry Visa.
There is no hard and fast rule but rather Ancestry Visa applications are reviewed on a case by case basis. In general, the UK government does not want to admit people who don't have enough money 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 yet. Also, if you have have a job to go to they will not likely concern themselves greatly with your financial situation.
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 (by providing a recruitment consultants email for example), you should have an excellent chance of success. Applying to jobs on Workgateways will put you in contact with recruitment consultants that will help you. If you need a letter from us stating that you are looking for work, please email email@example.com and provide your full name, postal address and type of work you seek. You will also need to be registered with us.
If you have not entered the UK based on UK ancestry clearance before, then you must apply for the UK ancestry visa from the country where you currently live.
- Yourself — Check out our step-by-step guide to do-it-yourself visa applications.
- Visa Service &mdsah; If you would like to ensure your Ancestry Visa is done right the first time (or don't like lots of paperwork), a travellers company with a visa service may be a good option for you. Check out our page that helps you to compare the various visa services offered.
Both the Ancestry Visa 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 an Ancestry Visa that may be a better option. You can find out more information about the Tier 1 visa here.
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.