Settlement or ILR on the UK Ancestry Route

By Jasmine Theilgaard – Immigration Barrister

In our recent blog post, we provided details of the requirements for a UK Ancestry visa. A UK Ancestry visa will be valid for a period of five years. After a continuous period of five years in the UK on this route, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (settlement). The main requirements for settlement as a UK Ancestry visa holder are now set out in Appendix UK Ancestry, and will be discussed further in this blog post. 

Requirements for UK Ancestry ILR

In order to apply for settlement or indefinite leave to remain on the basis of UK Ancestry, you will need to demonstrate the following:

  • That you have submitted a valid application for settlement on the basis of UK Ancestry;
  • That you meet the relevant suitability requirements;
  • That you continue to meet the ancestry, work and financial requirements;
  • That you have spent five years in the UK with permission on the UK Ancestry route as a person with UK Ancestry (it is worth noting that this does not need to be your most recent grant of leave);
  • That you have been continuously resident for that five year period;
  • That you meet the relevant English language and Life in the UK requirements.

This article will focus on the work and continuous residence requirements for ILR on the basis of UK Ancestry.

Work Requirement for UK Ancestry Visa Settlement

The Immigration Rules for settlement on the basis of UK Ancestry require the applicant to demonstrate that they remain able to work or seek employment in the UK.

The Home Office’s guidance states that a person with permission on the UK Ancestry route does not have to be continuously employed while in the UK to qualify for settlement. However, the caseworker will consider whether they are employed or unemployed when they apply.

The guidance clarifies that:

The definition of ‘employment’ in paragraph 6.2 of the Immigration Rules includes “paid and unpaid employment”. This means that if an applicant is undertaking, or intends to undertake, voluntary work, you may accept that they meet the work requirement for the UK Ancestry route. Since the applicant will not be earning an income, you must pay particular attention to their ability to meet the financial requirement. 

The guidance further states that an indefinite leave to remain application must not be refused solely on the grounds of age or disability unless it is clear that the applicant does not intend to work or there is no realistic prospect of their being able to work in the future. As outlined above, the caseworker may consider the applicant’s ability or intention to engage in voluntary work as opposed to paid employment or self-employment.

If an ILR applicant shows that they are in employment or self-employment at the date of application, the caseworker should accept that they meet the work requirement unless there is a good reason to believe that they will not continue in that employment.

Each case must be considered on its merits, and there are not specified evidence requirements. However, the guidance does provide suggestions of evidence that may be provided. In the event that an applicant is not employed at the date of application, the guidance states that:

“If the applicant is unemployed when they apply for further permission to stay or settlement, you must ask for evidence of their employment record throughout their previous 5 years on this route and of any attempts they have made, and are making, to find work (if they have not provided this information with their application). If the applicant has been unemployed for the entire 5 years, you must ask them to explain the reasons for this, if they have not done so on their application form.”

Continuous Residence Requirement for UK Ancestry Visa ILR

In order to meet the continuous residence requirement for ILR on the basis of UK Ancestry, an applicant must not have spent more than the permitted number of days outside of the UK. For a person with permission granted under the immigration rules in place before 11 January 2018, the applicant must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days during any consecutive 12-month period, ending on the same date of the year as the date of the application for settlement.

However, the requirement is slightly different for an applicant with leave granted under the rules in place after 11 January 2018. In that case, they must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period.

There are some exceptions to the limit on absences, which include the following:

  • the applicant was assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis overseas;
  • travel disruption due to natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic; or
  • compelling and compassionate personal circumstances, such as the life-threatening illness of the applicant, or life-threatening illness or death of a close family member.

An application for indefinite leave to remain on the basis of UK Ancestry must be carefully prepared in order to demonstrate that this residence requirement is met. 

It is also possible to apply for further leave to remain in the UK, as opposed to settlement, if you are unable to meet the continuous residence requirement due to excess absences on the date that your leave expires (or, for example, if you are unable to meet the English language or Life in UK requirement). It is important to keep in mind that if an applicant wishes to rely on time in both an initial and further grant of leave to remain in the UK on the UK Ancestry route in order to demonstrate five years’ residence, they will need to ensure that their continuity of residence has not been broken. In addition to excess absences, continuity of residence will be broken if, during the relevant 5-year period, the applicant has had any periods without permission on the UK Ancestry route. The guidance states that ‘periods without permission’ refers to cases in which the applicant has overstayed their permission while in the UK, or cases in which their permission has expired while they were outside the UK.

Evidence of UK Ancestry

Finally, it is worth noting that although a person with leave on the UK Ancestry route will have already demonstrated their ancestry in their initial application, the guidance states that:

“The applicant must submit relevant evidence with each application they make on the UK Ancestry route. You must not rely on a previous grant of entry clearance or permission to stay as evidence that a person satisfies the UK-born grandparent requirement.”

It is therefore important that all relevant evidence relating to your UK-born grandparent is provided with each application that you make.

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to an application for settlement on the UK Ancestry Route, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via the enquiry form below

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