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UK Ancestry Visa for US Citizens

If you are a Commonwealth citizen living in the US and you have a British grandparent who was born in the UK, you may be eligible for the UK Ancestry visa.

To find out how to apply for a UK Ancestry visa, get in touch with Total Law today on 0333 305 9375.

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    What is the UK Ancestry visa?

    The UK Ancestry visa allows Commonwealth citizens who have a UK-born grandparent to come to the United Kingdom for up to five years. Whilst in the UK they can freely live, work, and study.

    The Ancestry visa can be extended for another five years or alternatively, you could apply to settle in the United Kingdom through the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) route if you have been in the UK for five years. ILR is a route that can lead to British Citizenship.

    An advantage of the Ancestry visa is that you do not need to have secured a job in the UK before you apply, making this a simpler route than some other visas.

    As you are applying as the relative of a British citizen, you’ll be required to prove their British heritage. This type of evidence can sometimes be difficult to source for a grandparent who left the UK a long time ago. Total Law immigration attorneys can help you with every stage of the Ancestry visa application, including locating family heritage evidence.

    There are several documents that you need to submit when you make your application, as well as fees to pay. On this page you can learn more about the UK Ancestry visa such as who is eligible, how you apply, and how you prove your British heritage.

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    Who is Eligible to Apply for the UK Ancestry Visa?

    US citizens are not eligible for the Ancestry visa, but if you are a Commonwealth citizen living in the U.S. then you may be eligible for this visa, if you can meet the other requirements.

    The eligibility requirements you will need to meet are listed below.

    You must:

    • Be a Commonwealth citizen
    • Be 17 years of age or older
    • Have a British grandparent who was born in the UK, Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man (and be able to prove this)
    • Be able to support yourself financially whilst in the UK without needing to rely on public funds
    • Be intending to seek employment in the UK

    You are also eligible for this visa if your grandparent was born before 31 March 1922 in what is now Ireland, or on a ship or aircraft that was either registered in the UK or belonged to the UK government.

    If you or your parent were adopted, or if your parents or grandparents were not married, you can still apply for this visa. However, you may not claim UK Ancestry through step-parents.

    How do you Apply for a UK Ancestry Visa?

    You can submit your application to the Home Office by filling out the online form that is available on the UK government’s website.

    Note that you cannot apply for the UK Ancestry visa earlier than 3 months before you intend to travel to the UK. You must also apply from your home country outside the UK.

    When you apply, you will also need to book an appointment at a visa application center in the US (or in whichever country you are based). The purpose of this appointment is to provide evidence of your identity. During this appointment biometric data (photograph and fingerprints) will be taken. You might also be required to take some other documents with you, in addition to your passport.

    How can I Prove my UK Ancestry?

    For the Ancestry visa it is necessary to prove your relationship with your British relative who was born in the UK.

    To provide this proof, you will be expected to submit the birth certificates of the parent and grandparent on whom your ancestry claim is based.

    Depending on your individual circumstances, you may need to provide other documents, such as deed poll documents or civil partnership certificates as evidence of a name change since birth by your parents or grandparents, for example. If you or your parents were adopted, you may need to provide adoption documentation.

    Required Documents When Applying for a UK Ancestry Visa

    To apply for a UK Ancestry visa you need to submit several other documents, not just those that prove your relationship with your British relative who was born in the UK. These documents are a vital part of the application for a UK Ancestry visa.

    The following documents will need to be provided:

    • Your current passport or another type of travel document (with at least one blank page for your visa)
    • Your birth certificate
    • Provide evidence that demonstrates that you are both able to work and indent to seek employment in the UK
    • Financial proof of being able to support yourself and any family members in the UK, such as bank statements (no older than 31 days)
    • If your home country requires a tuberculosis test you’ll need to provide a copy of the test results
    • If you intend to bring your partner with you, you’ll need to provide your marriage certificate or civil partnership documentation

    Bringing Family Members with you to the UK

    With the Ancestry visa you may bring dependents with you to the UK.

    Family members that can count as dependents include:

    • Your partner
    • Your child under 18
    • Your child aged 18 or older previously on your or your partner’s visa as a dependent

    Each dependent has to apply separately, which can be done online. They will also be required to provide their biometric information at a visa application center.

    If your partner or children are already here on a visa that allows switching to another visa, it may be possible for them to apply for the Ancestry visa from within the UK.

    In order to bring your partner with you, you will need to provide evidence of either of these:

    • Your marriage or civil partnership that is recognized in the UK
    • Being in a relationship and living together for at least two years

    How can Total Law help?

    The UK Ancestry visa can be complex as you need to prove your British ancestry eligibility plus your Commonwealth citizenship, as well as the other eligibility criteria. The heritage proof is not always easy to source especially if your grandparent left the UK many years ago.

    Total Law immigration attorneys can advise you on your application for this visa. Your attorney can assess your heritage to ensure that you are eligible, as well as support you with compiling the correct set of documentation for your application. We can even help with sourcing family history documents for you.

    Your attorney will write a Letter of Representation to support your application, which will refer to your case, the evidence, and UK immigration laws. They will also liaise with the Home Office on your behalf. With Total Law on board, you will maximize your chances of visa approval. Contact us now on 0333 305 9375 or complete the quick enquiry form and get started on your application.

    Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to apply for a UK Ancestry visa. Contact us

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                A UK Ancestry visa permits you to live, work and study in the UK for a maximum of five years. It also allows you to bring family members with you to the UK.

                The visa provides a path to settlement in the UK, and at the end of the five years, you can qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Indefinite Leave to Remain allows you to settle in the UK permanently. It is also a stepping stone to becoming a British Citizen.

                The UK Ancestry visa currently costs £516.

                In addition to this fee, you may also be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge which gives you access to the NHS. This is currently £624 per year, which over five years equates to £3,120.

                You will need to pay fees for each dependent that you apply to bring with you.

                You can apply to extend your Ancestry visa for a further five years. You may apply for as many extensions at the end of each five-year period as you wish. However, with each extension application, you will need to prove that you still meet all required eligibility criteria.

                Alternatively, after living in the UK for five years you will qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Indefinite Leave to Remain permits you to settle in the UK on a permanent basis, and can provide a route to British Citizenship.

                The best option for you will depend on how long you wish to stay in the UK and if your stay in the UK has been continuous or not.

                To find out more about extending the Ancestry visa or applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain, speak to Total Law today on 0333 305 9375.

                Visa refusal can be a frustrating experience, and unfortunately, there is no automatic right of appeal with the UK Ancestry visa, except in cases where there is a clear error in the decision process. If you believe that your application ought to have been accepted and an error was made, you have the option of requesting an administrative review of the decision.

                Some of the reasons for refusing an Ancestry visa application include the following:

                • You are not an eligible commonwealth country citizen
                • You did not adequately show that you are actively seeking work in the UK
                • You did not provide the required supporting documents
                • You did not provide evidence that your grandparent was born in the UK
                • You did not prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK
                • Your application was incomplete or inaccurate
                • You did not respond to the Home Office’s request for further information

                Feel free to contact our team of specialist attorneys if your visa application is refused, and we will advise on the options open to you to achieve your goal of coming to the UK.

                You may be eligible for British citizenship by descent or by double descent if you have a parent or grandparent who is or was British. Get in touch if you need to speak to an immigration attorney about this.