Whilst the ancestry visa relies on having a British grandparent, if you have a British parent then you might be eligible to apply for a ‘right of abode’. Essentially as the child of a British citizen, you have the right to permanent residency. This is a right you inherited at birth. However, to be able to clear customs and live in the UK you’ll need to prove this. You do this by applying for a ‘certificate of entitlement’.
Disclaimer: This is based on Laura’s experience applying for a right of abode certificate of entitlement from Australia and again from within the UK. The steps are applicable to Australians, so please double check the lodgement process in your own area. You should seek professional advice if you are unsure. Go to GOV UK to check if there have been any changes to the visa rule & fees.
Before You Start
Firstly you’ll need to have at least one parent who was born in the UK and was a citizen of the UK and its colonies when you were born or adopted. You’ll also need to be a citizen of a Commonwealth country yourself.
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This method of entry into the UK best serves those who were born before 1983 and who are claiming their rights through their mother’s side. Those born after 1983 automatically become citizens and require a different process.
The certificate of entitlement costs £321 within the UK. Unlike an ancestry visa, youth mobility or sponsorship there is no NHS fee to be paid, which could be a considerable saving if you are planning on remaining in the UK for an extended period. Your certificate is also valid for the duration of your passport.
I would highly recommend renewing your passport prior to making an application for your certificate of entitlement as overseas embassies tend to process applications faster (2 weeks in Australia for me versus 5 months when reapplying in the UK). You will also have to reapply and pay the full cost again, it doesn’t roll over to your new passport.
You have right of abode if all the following apply:
- If you are a British citizen
- One of your parents was born in the UK and a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies when you were born or adopted
- You were a Commonwealth citizen on 31 December 1982
- You didn’t stop being a Commonwealth citizen (even temporarily) at any point after 31 December 1982
- A female Commonwealth citizen who is, or has been, married to a man with the right of abode at any time before 31 December 1982
- a UK and Colonies (CUKC) woman who is, or has been, married to a man with right of abode at any time before 31 December 1982.
The documents you require for your application are:
- Evidence of employment in the UK (if applicable)
- Financial evidence – bank statements, term deposit statements etc.
- Letter of invitation from a British citizen living in the UK (not mandatory, but preferential)
- Proof of relationship documents – your birth certificate, your mother’s birth certificate (grandparents are not required)
- Evidence of accommodation upon arrival (this can be a hotel booking or your referee in their letter of invitation can state that you are staying with them, even if this is not a long-term arrangement).
If this is not your first time applying, the process will be slightly different from within the UK and you will also have to send your expired passport as well as your new passport to prove you’ve previously had a certificate of entitlement. You are unable to have two current certificates in two documents at the same time.
An electronic application process has recently been introduced, which saves you having to send all of your original documents to be processed via post. First, you’ll need to create your application using the Gov.UK website. Once this is complete, you will then need to book an appointment at a visa application centre, which will generally be in your capital city.
The process is as follows:
- All documents must be A4 size.
- You must separate your documents which will allow the barcode scanners to sort your paperwork correctly.
- Any documents which are smaller or larger than A4 size, must be photocopied onto A4 sized paper. This includes the pages of any previous passports.
- All documents must be free from any staples, clips or pins before they are submitted.
- Torn, crumpled or heavily creased documents cannot be scanned and therefore must be photocopied onto A4 sized paper before they are submitted.
- Documents should not be laminated
Once you have scanned in your documents, you will then record your biometric data (photograph and inkless fingerprints). You can then choose whether you’d like to collect your documents in person at the visa application centre or have them delivered to you by post. Generally, this will just be your passport.
In addition to the cost benefits, a right of abode application doesn’t expire. You are also treated like a British Citizen (because by rights or descent you are!) so you can complete customs like a local (you can’t quite use the eGates yet as you’ve got a foreign passport). This also means you won’t receive a stamp in your passport when you re-enter the country. If you chose, you can apply for British citizenship and a British passport immediately, and not have to wait like if you were on an ancestry visa. Please note though that if you apply for citizenship via application rather than by staying in the country the required time, you won’t be able to pass your ancestry on to any children. Nonetheless, your children will still be able to obtain an ancestry visa through your parent (their grandparent).
About Laura from Passport Collective
Laura is an Australian primary school teacher who has just spent 2 years teaching in the UK. Which has given her many opportunities to see the world, and hopes to encourage others to undertake their own adventures. Follow her adventure on Passport Collective, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.