Getting Here

So, you have made your mind up and you want to move to the UK.  Awesome!  Question is, can you? 

Before you can really even begin to plan your move to the UK you first have to determine if you qualify to do so.  There are many visas available Ancestry, Tier 1, 2, 5 and Student Mobility to name a few.

Ancestry Visa

My grandfather (front right) and his family c. 1914

I used the Ancestry Visa route. This visa is entry clearance for Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands or Isle of Man. This visa entitles you to live and work in the UK for a period of 5 years, after which you may then apply for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain).

It also entitles your spouse/partner and dependents to live and work in the UK with you.

You will need to produce birth, marriage and death certificates of the relative that you are claiming ancestry through as well as all of their descendants up to and including you. If you are travelling with your spouse and dependents you will need to provide birth certificates and a marriage certificate too.  To help locate my grandfather’s birth certificate, I used a website called Free BMD which allows access to all the records at the General Registry Office in London.

Application Process

Once you have collected all the necessary certificates (they all need to be long form certificates) you will need to complete an application through a visa application centre.  They will walk you through the application process which includes biometrics for yourself and your dependents and spouse.   You will also need to provide bank account statements with your application.

Restrictions

You can not apply for this visa if you are already in the UK; marrying a UK citizen does not automatically give you the right to live in the UK (unless you are a EU citizen). The Immigration Laws are subject to change so it’s a good idea to make sure you have clear information before you apply. There is a no access to public funds/benefits restriction on the Ancestry Visa.  There is no minimum income required you just need to be able to support yourself and your family.

Health Surcharge

As of April 2015 the UK government introduced the Immigrant Health Surcharge and you will need to pay this as part of your visa application. Bear in mind prices increase every year.

You will need to pay this with your application if:

⦁ you’re a national of a country outside the European Economic Area
⦁ you’re applying for a visa to work, study or join your family in the UK for more than 6 months (but you’re not applying to remain in the UK permanently)

You have to pay the fee when you either initially apply or renew you visa. They will not accept your application without payment. The fee covers the cost of using the NHS.  You will still need to pay for certain services such as prescriptions, dental and eye tests.  If you are working you will have National Insurance taken off your pay cheque (regardless of the surcharge).

The surcharge doesn’t affect everyone, for example people on visitor visas or any visa that lasts 6 months or less or anyone from the EU.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

When you are applying for ILR you will have to pass the Life in the UK test. You can take the test as many times as necessary (you have to pay a fee each time) to get a passing mark. They only tell you if you pass or fail, they won’t actually give you your score.  If you go on to apply for citizenship you won’t have to retake the test, just provide the certificate along with your application.  You will also be required to take your biometrics and photographs for each application (in my case visa extension, ILR and again for citizenship).

Citizenship

Citizenship Ceremony, Plymouth January 2017
Citizenship Ceremony, Plymouth January 2017

I did our applications for citizenship and then made an appointment with the Nationality Checking Service .  They will go over the application and supporting documents with you and submit everything once you pay the fee.

The application is long but fairly straight forward and a lot cheaper than paying a lawyer to do it. You can choose to pay for your passport at the same time so when your application is approved and you have attended your citizenship ceremony, you’ll get your passport in the post a few days later.

You will have to attend the citizenship ceremony as it’s compulsory for those who are over 18 (anyone under 18 can attend if they wish). I really enjoyed the ceremony, there was about 20 other new citizens there, we took an oath and a pledge of allegiance to the Queen, took a picture with the mayor, got to hold the official staff and received a keepsake coin. It really was one of the proudest moments of my life.

Helpful Links 

Becoming a British Citizen
Life in the UK Practice Tests
Nationality Checking Service
Book a Life in the UK Test

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”  Oprah Winfrey