UK Ancestry Entry Clearance
|British citizenship and
British nationality law
|Classes of British national
status and other status
A UK Ancestry Entry Clearance often referred to as an "Ancestry Visa" is a United Kingdom Entry Clearance for Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands or Isle of Man who wish to work in the United Kingdom. It is used mainly by young Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and South Africans coming to UK to work and as a base to explore Europe.
The main requirements are:
- to have a grandparent born in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man at any time; or a grandparent born in what is now the Republic of Ireland on or before March 31, 1922.
- to be a citizen of a Commonwealth country (it does not matter how citizenship was acquired). Zimbabwe remains a Commonwealth country for visa purposes.
- to be aged 17 or over
- to intend to undertake employment
- to be able to support oneself in the United Kingdom without recourse to public funds.
Term of Entry Clearance
The Entry Clearance is granted for five years in the Limited Leave to Enter category. After this, the holder can apply for an extension (Limited Leave to Remain) or for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). For ILR, the holder must show that he or she has been living continuously in the UK and is currently in continuing employment or has worked throughout the five years. The Home Office's instructions for immigration officers assessing these applications make clear that if the applicant is working at the time of the ILR application, the applicant needs to show only that his or her current employment will continue. If not working at the time of the ILR application, the applicant will need to show that he or she has been continually working or looking for work throughout the five-year period.
This Entry Clearance does not prevent the holder from undertaking study; however, to stay within the terms of the status the holder should also be working.
- The increase in the period of time under UK Ancestry to 5 years before ILR can be applied for effectively means that applicants (who are usually not married to British citizens) must wait 6 years for British citizenship. This is because naturalisation as a British citizen for a person not married to a British citizen requires that ILR or its equivalent be held for 12 months.
- Children born in the United Kingdom to persons with UK Ancestry (since 1983) are not British citizens by birth. However the child can be registered a British citizen once the parent obtains ILR if the child is still under 18 (it is not necessary to wait for the parent to become British).
Irish born grandparent
A grandparent born in Northern Ireland, or what is now the Republic of Ireland prior to 1 April 1922, gives rise to an entitlement to a right to admission under UK Ancestry. However there may also be an entitlement to register as an Irish citizen by descent which grants full permanent residency in the UK immediately. See Irish nationality law
This may be possible as an alternative to, or in addition to, a UK Ancestry Entry Clearance.
On 26 October 2005, The Times newspaper in Britain published an article outlining possible plans by the British Home Office to abolish admission under UK Ancestry in favour of a points based migration system. The issue had apparently been raised in the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. The possibility of abolition alarmed many people with British-born grandparents living in Commonwealth countries.
Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, expressed his concern over the possible abolition of the UK Ancestry Entry Clearance. Mr. McConnell had recently been in Canada to encourage Canadians of Scottish heritage to move to Scotland. Canada has over 4 million citizens that are of Scottish descent. Part of the reason for this campaign was the concern over declining population and birthrate in Scotland. His campaign received a great deal of interest in Canada.
However, details of a new points based system announced on 7 March 2006 made it clear that ancestry routes to the UK would not be affected. The new points system covers those workers wishing to enter the UK without EU/EEA member state citizenship or ancestral links to the UK.
According to The Times, in July 2008, with the publication of a draft immigration and citizenship bill, the UK Home Office "confirmed that it will retain the ancestral route to citizenship under which Commonwealth citizens aged over 17 with one grandparent born in the UK can obtain a passport". This statement is somewhat inaccurate, because meeting those qualifications does not entitle that person to any passport (British or otherwise). It entitles the person to a UK Ancestry Entry Clearance which will allow them to enter the UK for residence and employment as a non-British citizen.