This page serves to create awareness of the basics of the UK Ancestry visa.

At this point in our content, we have taken the liberty to introduce the UK Ancestry visa (main applicant), clarify that it permits dependents to join the main applicant and we have hopefully summarized how UK birth rights work.


Provision has been put together that South Africans who make the claim to Ancestry working rights follow a set structure of visa processes.

Entry Clearance (Applied for in South Africa)

Formally known as “Limited Leave to Remain”, the applicant applies for permission to enter the UK with permission to live, work, study and ultimately settle in the UK. In these Ancestry cases, permission for initial entry is granted for a set 5 year period.

Extension of the Ancestry visa (Applied for in the UK)

Formally known as “Further Leave to Remain”. This only applies to cases where applicants are not able to qualify for permanent residence. It applies to cases where the applicant is not able to meet the immigration definition of “continual UK residence* for the full 5 year period.

At this stage, the applicant is entitled to apply for an unlimited amount of visa extensions in the UK. This means that there is no restriction in terms of the applicants ability to continuously remain in the UK.

Permanent Residence (Applied for in the UK)

Formally known as “Indefinite Leave to Remain”. This stage of the immigration process caters for applicants that are able to meet the immigration definition of “continued UK residence* for the full 5 continuous years.

Here the applicant is granted permission to remain in the UK as a resident of the UK (not a British national though). Permanent residence grants the applicant a visa that is issued for the duration of their South African passport. Therefore, if they recently renew their SA passport, they can get a visa issued for the same duration of their passport (ie full 10 years).

British Nationalization (Applied for in the UK)

After 6 continuous years of UK residence, the applicant can apply and claim British citizenship (earn through UK residence). Once awarded, the applicant can request a British passport.

The above process applies to both the main applicant and each of their dependents. This means that the dependents of an Ancestry visa can also earn British nationality through UK residence.

* Continual UK Residence is defined as spending more than 185 days in the UK (seen as majority of the year). From a tax compliance perspective, when applicants spend majority of a year in the UK, they are liable to pay UK tax – which is the UK governments primary motivation. This however also means that applicants are permitted 180 days “outside the UK” travel allowance – perfect for those looking to chase summer in each hemisphere.

Please try our free birth certificate assessment below if you are looking to claim UK birth rights.

Free Birth Certificate Assessment

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