Immigration Corner| Can I get an ancestry visa?
Dear Mr Bassie,
My grandfather was born in England and I would like to know if I would be eligible for a United Kingdom ancestry visa.
A person can apply for an ancestry visa if he/she is a Commonwealth citizen; applying from outside the UK; is able to prove that one of his/her grandparents was born in the United Kingdom; is able and plans to work in the United Kingdom; and meets the other eligibility requirements.
The earliest that a person can apply is three months before the date of travel. A person should get a decision on his/her visa within three weeks when the application is made from outside of the United Kingdom. A person can check the guide processing times online to find out how long getting a visa might take in a particular country.
The cost for applying for an ancestry visa is PS405, and a person may also have to pay the health-care surcharge as part of his/her application. The cost of this should be verified before making the application.
A successful applicant will be able to stay in the United Kingdom for five years on this visa and may also apply to extend his/her visa. In addition, a person can also apply to settle in the United Kingdom permanently.
With this visa, persons can work, study, and bring family members. However, they cannot change, that is, 'switch', into this visa if they are already in the United Kingdom on another visa. They are not eligible to receive public funds.
Persons who are eligible must prove that they are 17 years of age or over; have enough money without help from public funds to support and house themselves and any dependents; and are able and plan to work in the United Kingdom.
With respect to ancestry, persons must also show that they have a grandparent born in one of the following circumstances: in the United Kingdom, including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; before March 31, 1922, in what is now the Republic of Ireland; or on a British-registered ship or aircraft. Persons can also claim ancestry if either the applicant or the relevant parent was adopted or was born within or outside marriage in the United Kingdom. However, persons cannot claim United Kingdom ancestry through step-parents.
When persons apply, they will need to provide a current passport or other valid travel identification; bank statements to show that they have enough money to support themselves; their tuberculosis test results if they are from a country where you have to take the test; and they will need to have a blank page in their passport on which to put the visa.
Persons will also need to provide certain documents to prove ancestry such as a full birth certificate; a marriage certificate or civil partnership registration document if that person's husband, wife, or civil partner wants to join him/her; the full birth certificates of the parent and grandparent that the ancestry claim is based on; marriage certificates of the parents and grandparents; and legal adoption papers if the applicant or his/her parents are adopted. It is advisable to read the guide online, which will show a full list of documents that the applicant can provide. Please note that an applicant may need to provide additional documents depending on the individual circumstances.
Persons must apply online for an ancestry visa if the application is made from outside the United Kingdom. The applicant will need to have his/her fingerprints and photograph, known as 'biometric information', taken at a visa application centre as part of the application.
It should also be noted that persons may be able to get their visa faster depending on what country they are in. Persons should check with the visa application centre in the country that they are applying from. It should be noted that a person can only extend this United Kingdom ancestry visa if he/she is already in the United Kingdom.
- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: lawbassie