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How can an Aussie Apply for a UK Ancestry Visa?

There are many reasons an Aussie might want to move to the UK. Work, family, study or simply that good old-fashioned yearn to travel and experience a culture and country on the other side of the world. And the best advantage you have is the fact that Australia is a member of the Commonwealth.

This gives Australian citizens an additional method of acquiring a UK visa if they have a grandparent from the UK and meet all the correct critera. This method of entry is known as an Ancestry Visa.

What is an Ancestry Visa?

An Ancestry Visa is specifically for citizens from a Commonwealth country who have a grandparent who was born in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. In other words, you have close ancestral ties with the UK.

How do I assess if Im eligible?

In order to apply for an Ancestry Visa its necessary to fit along with the following criteria:

  • You are a Commonwealth country citizen (Australia became a member the Commonwealth in 1931 and was a founding member).

  • You can prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)

  • You are not currently in the UK

  • You are over 17 years of age

  • You have sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependants

In addition, you might also be eligible if either of the following apply:

  • You have a grandparent who was born in the Republic of Ireland before 31 March, 1922.

  • You have a grandparent who was born on a British registered ship or aircraft.

In addition, you can apply for an Ancestry Visa in the following circumstances:

  • If either you or a relevant parent were adopted and all/any the above circumstances apply

  • You were born either in or outside marriage in the UK

You cannot apply through step-parents.

The Ancestry Visa gives you the right to live and work in the UK for five years. It can then be extended for a further five years. Once youve lived in the UK for five years on such a visa, you can then apply for permanent residence as long as youve not spent more than 90 consecutive days out of the country. Once permanent residence is approved, and youve lived in the UK for a further 12 months, you can apply for UK citizenship.

How do I apply?

Applying for an Ancestry Visa is quite a simple procedure once you have all the necessary documents in place. However, there are many companies that offer a visa application service (albeit for a fee), if you feel youd like help in the process. These include such companies as The UK Visa Bureau and 1st Contact.

Applying through such a service doesnt give you any preferential treatment over those who apply in person.

To apply youll need the following documents:

  • A current passport or valid travel document

  • A blank page in your passport on which the visa will be issued

  • A passport sized colour photograph

  • Bank statements that prove you have enough money to support yourself and your dependents

  • A full birth certificate

  • A marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate if your partner wants to join you

  • Full birth certificates of your parent and grandparent on who your ancestry claim depends

  • Marriage certificates for your parents and grandparents (or legal adoption papers if either you, your parent or grandparent were adopted)

This is not an exhaustive list, and depending on your personal circumstances you may be asked to provide further documentation.

Applications can only be made online through the official UK Government website. You have to be outside of the UK at the time the application is made. In addition, its necessary to have your biometric information (photograph and fingerprints) taken at a visa application centre in Australia.

What about my family?

Direct family members (dependents) will also be eligible to come to the UK with you on an Ancestry Visa. These are:

  • Your partner

  • Your child (or children) aged under 18

  • A child over the age of 18 if they are currently in the UK as a dependent

They will each have to apply online, and have their biometric information taken at a visa application centre.

How much will it cost?

The cost of a UK Ancestry Visa is currently £324 UK Sterling. There may also be additional costs if its deemed necessary for you to pay a healthcare surcharge. There may be additional fees for the biometric information to be processed.

If you decide to use an immigration service to help you apply for your visa you will have to pay the relevant fees that the company charges.

How long will it take for my visa to be processed?

You can apply for your visa up to three months before your intended date of travel. In general, you receive an answer on your application within three weeks. However, this can vary during busy times. Its possible to check the current processing times on the UK Government website.

What happens when my visa is approved?

First of all, congratulations on your new life! Once your visa is proudly displayed in your passport, youre free to do the following:

  • Work in the UK, both in an employed and self-employed status (subject to paying the various taxes and contributions that all UK citizens are obliged to do)

  • Study in the UK

  • Bring family members with you

  • Enter, leave and re-enter the UK as much as you wish

Because of the close ties between many Australians and the UK, the Ancestry Visa may well be the easiest entry to the UK for you. And you have the added advantage of the process being simple to follow, fast and economical.

In addition to it being a popular entry process for Aussies, its also commonly used by those from New Zealand, South Africa and Canadians, many of whom have close ancestry ties to the UK.