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Immigration Corner | What is an ancestry visa?

Published:Monday | July 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Clipart graphic Worried

Dear Mr Bassie,

On what basis can someone apply for a United Kingdom ancestry visa?

- G.S.

Dear G.S.,

Persons can apply for a United Kingdom ancestry visa if they: are Commonwealth citizens; applying from outside of the United Kingdom; able to prove that one of their grandparents was born in the United Kingdom; are able and planning to work in the United Kingdom; and can meet the other eligibility requirements.

The earliest persons can apply is three months before they travel. Persons should get a decision on their visa application within three weeks when the application is made from outside of the United Kingdom. It is advisable to check the guide processing times online to find out how long getting a visa might take in a particular country.

A United Kingdom ancestry visa will cost £496, and persons may also have to pay the health-care surcharge as part of their application. It is advisable that persons should check how much they will have to pay before applying.

Persons can stay in the United Kingdom for five years on this visa. They are permitted to also apply to extend their visa, and they can also apply to settle in the United Kingdom permanently.

There are strict rules as to what persons can and cannot do. For instance, persons are able to work; study; take family members. However, persons cannot change, 'switch' into this visa if they are already in the United Kingdom on another visa; get public funds.

To prove eligibility, persons must prove that they are 17 years old or over; have enough money without help from public funds to support and house themselves and any dependents; able to and plan to work in the UK.

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 the March 31, 1922, in what is now the Republic of Ireland; on a British-registered ship or aircraft.

Persons can also claim ancestry if either the applicant or the relevant parent were adopted; were born within or outside marriage in the United Kingdom. Please note that persons cannot claim United Kingdom ancestry through step-parents.

When making their application, persons 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 they have to take the test. Persons will also need to have a blank page in their passport on which to put the visa.

In addition, persons will need to provide the following ancestry documents: their full birth certificate; their marriage certificate or civil partnership registration document if their husband, wife or civil partner wants to join them; the full birth certificates of the parent and grandparent that their ancestry claim is based on; marriage certificates for their parents and grandparents, and legal adoption papers if persons or their parents are adopted.

- 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).