If you are a Commonwealth citizen (aged 17 or older) and have a grandparent who was born in the UK or Islands, you may be able to apply for the UK Ancestry Visa to live and work in the UK.

The UK Ancestry Visa is a potential route of entry for people who are UK descendants, namely grandparents who were born in the UK or Islands. Successful applicants will be granted 5 years of stay with the option to extend their Ancestry Visa for another 5 years, or pursue 5-Years’ Indefinite Leave to Remain should they meet the requirements.

If you successfully apply for a UK Ancestry Visa, you will be able to work, study, and bring your partner and children to the UK. In addition, your work can be part-time, full-time, paid or voluntary, and you can be either self-employed or employed by somebody else.

However, you cannot switch to this visa type if you have gained entry to the UK on a different visa. You have to apply for Entry Clearance from abroad before entering the UK as an Ancestry Visa holder.

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel, and at the time of application you must meet a number of requirements on top of your UK ancestry. Consulting with the skilled immigration lawyers at QC Immigration is recommended to discuss all your visa options.

UK Ancestry Visa requirements

Just like any visa, you must meet certain criteria before you can apply for an Ancestry Visa. It is highly recommended that you perform your own due diligence with your family tree research to ensure you are eligible for this visa option.

General requirements are as follows.

To be eligible you must:

  • Be over the age of 17.
  • Be able and intend to work in the UK.
  • Be financially independent in that you can support yourself, and any dependants you plan to bring with you, without the need for public funds.

Commonwealth citizen:

You must be able to prove that you are a Commonwealth citizen, in order to do so you must meet be either:

  • A British Overseas Territories citizen;
  • A British National (Overseas);
  • A British Overseas citizen;
  • A British subject;
  • A citizen of a country listed in Schedule 3 to the British Nationality Act 1981.
commonwealth citizenship countries

This can be proven with a valid passport or travel document that has been issued by a Commonwealth country. This also applies for those who have recently been naturalised Commonwealth citizens.

Ancestry requirements:

To be eligible for this visa, you will need to show that you have one grandparent born either:

  • In the UK
  • In the Channel Islands (Bailiwick of Guernsey or Bailiwick of Jersey)
  • In the Isle of Man
  • In what is now Ireland (before 31 March 1922)
  • If the requirements of either section 50(7)(a) of the British Nationality Act 1981, or section 32(5) of the British Nationality Act 1948, as applicable, are met

You will be eligible if your parents or grandparents were not legally married. You cannot, however, claim ancestry from a step-parent or step-grandparent. You also cannot qualify on the basis of having a great-grandparent or more distant ancestor born in the UK or Islands.

You will also be eligible if you or your parents were adopted so long as the adoption process is recognised as valid for the purposes of UK law. There are government resources for further guidance on valid adoptions.

Contact QC Immigration to make sure that you are meeting all the eligibility requirements for the UK Ancestry Visa, and receive guidance on how best to build your case to increase your chances of being granted the visa.

Our London-based immigration law team has extensive experience in this area and will be able to make sure you are pursuing the right visa route with a strong and convincing application, saving you valuable time. No matter where you are located in the world, our immigration experts can assist you in-person or remotely with their local UK knowledge and first-hand experience.


Submitting the appropriate documentation is a necessity when applying for the UK Ancestry Visa.

When applying for this visa type you will need crucial documents, including and not limited to:

  • A current passport or another valid travel document.
  • Evidence that you are able and plan to work in the UK (job offers, business plan or other examples).
  • Evidence that you can appropriately support yourself and any dependants financially, such as a bank statement, dated within 31 days from when you submit your application.
  • Your full birth certificate (not abbreviated).
  • The full birth certificate of your grandparent(s) (not abbreviated) that you are claiming an Ancestry Visa based upon.

You may also need to provide, where relevant:

  • Evidence of any name changes for your grandparents or parents.
  • Legal adoption papers.
  • A marriage or civil partnership certificate for your spouse, if they want to join you.
  • Your tuberculosis test results if you are coming from a country that requires a TB test.

UK Ancestry Visa work requirements

In order to successfully apply for an Ancestry Visa, you must also prove that you intend on securing, or have already secured, employment in the UK. You can do this through a job offer, business plan or similar document if you intend to be self-employed or to run your own business. This can include unpaid voluntary work so long as you meet the financial requirements.

There are other ways that can show that you are actively seeking work, our team who has dealt with many applications – all with unique circumstances – will be able to help you prove your intention to work in the UK.

How QC Immigration Can Help

Our team of legal experts can assist you in putting together an application that has a good chance of being accepted, provided all legal and financial requirements are in place. We can highlight the important information to include, and any irrelevant information you may not need.

Our immigration law specialists will be able to provide the practical guidance that is needed to ensure your applicable traits for the Ancestry Visa are highlighted.

Please get in touch with us online or book a consultation with one of our lawyers. Alternatively, you can phone us on 0203 637 8633 or email us at info@qc-immigration.com.


How much does the Ancestry Visa cost?

The Ancestry Visa will cost £531, and an extension of the Ancestry Visa will cost £1,048. You may also need to pay additional fees such as the healthcare surcharge, biometric enrolment fees and fees related to documentation; for example, obtaining apostille certificates.

Professional translation services may also be needed if your documents are not in English. If you are using legal representation, this should also be added to the total cost to consider.

How soon can you apply for the UK Ancestry Visa?

The earliest you can apply for your Ancestry Visa before travelling is 3 months in advance.

How long does it take to get a decision?

Under normal working circumstances, the Ancestry Visa has a turnaround time of around 3 weeks from the moment you apply.

Can I apply for an extension?

After the initial stay of 5 years, you can apply to extend your Ancestry Visa for a further 5 years, or you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Can I add my family to my Ancestry Visa application?

Your partner and children (dependants) can also apply to join you if they are eligible. They can also apply for extensions but will need to do so separately, before their current visa expires.

Need more information?

Learn more about how we work and support you through the UK Immigration Application Process.

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