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Immigration options for persons with United Kingdom ancestry

The Immigration Rules provide those with United Kingdom ancestry with a route to settlement in the UK via the UK Ancestry visa. The relevant provisions are set out within paragraph 186 of the Immigration Rules and this application can only be made from overseas; it is not possible to apply for leave to remain, or to switch into this category, from within the UK.

The main requirements of paragraph 186 are as follows:

a) The applicant must be a citizen of a Commonwealth country;
b) The applicant must be at least 17 years old;
c) The applicant is able to prove that one of his/her grandparents was born in the UK;
d) The applicant intends to work in the UK and is able to do so;
e) The applicant will be able to maintain and accommodate themselves adequately without relying on public funds.

Demonstrating UK ancestry

An important part of the application is establishing that the applicant has a UK born grandparent. The grandparent must be the applicant’s blood grandparent or a grandparent by reason of an adoption that is recognised by the UK. Unlike claims to British citizenship (albeit with a few exceptions), the relevant parentage need not be legitimate; meaning that the grandparents, parents or applicants’ birth may be either within or outside of marriage.

The grandparent must have been born in the UK (which includes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man), in what is now known as the Republic of Ireland provided that the grandparent was born there before 31 March 1922 or on a British registered ship or aircraft. Birth in a British colony or a military base overseas (Akrotiri, for example) will not be acceptable for the purposes of this application.

Intention to work in the UK

The applicant must satisfy the Entry Clearance Officer that they are able to work and they intend to take or seek employment in the UK. The applicant may either have a job offer in the UK or they genuinely intend to seek employment/self-employment and have a realistic prospect of doing so. The applicant’s age and health will be important factors when assessing whether this requirement is met.

Maintenance and accommodation

The applicant will need to satisfy the Entry Clearance Officer that they will be able to maintain and accommodate themselves adequately without recourse to public funds.

In terms of maintenance, there is no fixed minimum amount required as to what will be considered adequate maintenance for the purposes of this provision. Whether a person will be maintained adequately will be considered after deducting income tax, national insurance contributions and housing costs, whether they have available the level of income that would be available to them if they were in receipt of income support. In KA and Others (Adequacy of maintenance) Pakistan [2006] UKAIT 00065 the Tribunal held that it would not be open to the Home Office to argue that an individual or a family who has as much as they would have on income support is not adequately maintained.

If successful, entry clearance will be granted for an initial period of five years. The applicant may include dependents with their application and they will be granted leave in line with the main applicant.


Once the applicant has resided in the UK continuously for five years, they will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK in accordance with paragraph 192 of the Immigration Rules.

The term continuous residence will be considered by reference to paragraph 128A(a) of the Immigration Rules; residence will be considered broken where the applicant has been absent from the UK for a period exceeding 180 days in any of the five consecutive 12 calendar months preceding the date of application. Having absences in excess of 180 days will mean that the requirements of paragraph 192 in relation to continuous residence are not met. However, the Home Office may consider granting indefinite leave to remain outside the Immigration Rules where the excess absences were for serious or compelling reasons, such as a serious illness, natural disaster, etc.

The applicant will also need to satisfy the knowledge of English language and knowledge about life in the United Kingdom as part of this application.

Contact Us

If you would like further advice regarding an application for entry clearance or indefinite leave to remain on the basis of United Kingdom ancestry then please contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via our online enquiry form.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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