They make it sound so easy
January 24, 2017 6:11 AM   Subscribe

YANM(Immigration)L: How hard is it, really, to get a UK Ancestry visa?

I am a Canadian (U.S. dual national, if it matters) with two grandparents who were born (and married) in England. My husband is American. makes the process of getting an ancestry visa sound incredibly easy and quick - three weeks?! - but my experience with this stuff in Canada and the U.S. makes me very suspicious. I have my U.K.-born grandparents' birth certificates and marriage certificate (is that even necessary?), and my (Canadian, British by descent) parent's birth certificate and marriage certificate. And of course my own marriage certificate and bank statements. And that', somehow? At least according to their website?

If you've gotten a UK Ancestry visa - especially along with a spousal visa - is it really that easy? Am I missing something? (Bringing my husband to Canada, by contrast, would be a Herculean effort, which is what makes me suspicious of this process.) Is the current political climate likely to impact us?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (7 answers total)
[disclaimer - don't have an Ancestry visa] If you have all the correct paperwork in place, it's not that difficult when you apply outside of the country. But as you note the political climate is changing and some parts of the Home Office are backed up with applications from EU nationals seeking permanent residency. However, applications go into different queues, so if the 3 week figure is up to date, that's what it is. By contrast my husband's spousal visa application took 12 weeks back in the day, friends on work visas took mere days.

They're really strict about the financial component, be sure to double check that. It changes often.
posted by wingless_angel at 6:40 AM on January 24, 2017

Go through the guidance with a fine toothed comb to make sure you haven’t missed anything. But it looks fairly straightforward.

The guidance says that you need your grandparent’s marriage certificate , so supply one. (My supposition would be that they want to track any name changes so they can confirm your grandparents’ identities.)
posted by pharm at 8:14 AM on January 24, 2017

It only took three weeks for my Canadian-born wife to get her UK passport (her dad was born in London). I can't speak to the Ancestry Visa, but it's perhaps some indication that it might not be too good to be true. They also reserved the right to do an interview and then didn't bother.

I found the passport telephone help line in the UK to be very useful for clearing up a few uncertainties about the process; perhaps there's a number you can call for your application too.
posted by Beardman at 10:22 AM on January 24, 2017

Regardless of your personal status, getting a spousal visa is not simple or easy. It requires a lot of form-filling and careful attention to detail, and the subsequent steps towards residency and citizenship are changing constantly. The process costs a fair bit too (we went through this 9 years ago, when it was both easier and cheaper, but not that much easier or cheaper). That said, you can do it without a lawyer - we did.

If your husband is American I strongly recommend the expat forum on UK Yankee - they are fantastic for wending your way through the process and have many detailed Q&A threads on the various steps of the immigration process.

We didn't need to go the ancestry visa route (I'm British and my wife is American and now a naturalised Brit) but there will be people on there who have.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:43 AM on January 25, 2017

Do remember that if your intention is to settle in the UK, then you cannot change visa type half way through the waiting period - any change in VISA type (work visa -> spousal visa for instance) resets the clock. Just something to watch out for...
posted by pharm at 3:18 AM on January 25, 2017

I have done the UK Ancestry visa and as of last week (whee!) moved to permanent residency. I did it all myself, the hardest part was finding the birth certificates and if you've done that I think you are halfway there. Also, they want to see a desire to work as it's technically a working visa - so ensure you have an up to date CV etc.

Tip: if you do do this make a note of when you do any biometrics or applications as you will need this data 2-5 years on if/when you settle.

Please do memail me with any questions you have.
posted by teststrip at 3:42 AM on January 25, 2017

Yes, that is all you need to do.

It will cost several thousand pounds (there is a £1000/person healthcare surcharge, for instance, even though you still have to pay NI from your salary).
posted by katrielalex at 5:04 AM on January 25, 2017

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