Notes on the UK Ancestry Visa Process

PLEASE NOTE THIS PAGE HAS DETAILED INFORMATION THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST ONLY TO INDIVIDUALS APPLYING FOR A UK ANCESTRY VISA –  a bit of a yawner if you are not interested in the minutia.  

ALSO IT REPRESENTS OUR EXPERIENCE – INDIVIDUAL CASES CAN VARY SO YOU MAY NOT HAVE THE SAME RESULTS.

Update on visa issue – for a complete history of our experience with the ‘Ancestry Visa’ I suggest you read from the bottom forward.

Sometimes you just go with the ‘best guess’ in the murky world of government regulation.

To recapitulate, at last count we had applied for Heather’s visa, as a dependent based on my ancestry visa.  Everything went swimmingly until we went to pay for the five years of health coverage – a requirement.

The UK Visa site would allow us to pay only for one year.  So we paid for the year, sent the application through the Vancouver Visa Services office, and waited.  [Again Visa Services is simply a company that handles paper and biometrics – you need not sweat about an interview.]

About the time we were expecting her visa to be processed, two weeks after we submitted her application, she received an e-mail telling us we had to pay for five years, not one – which of course we knew already.  Fortunately this time they sent two links, the most important one linked to the UK Consulate in New York so that we could pay in U.S. dollars.  We dutifully paid it immediately, and waited.

The following week [we suspect they bring files out on a rotational basis] we received word that the visa had been issued, and her passport would be returned via DHL through a prior arrangement with the Visa Services office in Vancouver.

It arrived safely?.

Now for the next issue which is tied into the other part of the visa process.  In preparing for our trip, to get the best choice of Airbnb in Paris, we felt we could not wait so in February we booked a place to stay.  Now we had our visas in hand BUT…

…the ‘but’ is once we arrive in England, eight days later, our biometric card will need to be picked up at our designated post office.  However we timed our departure based on how long we thought it would take to find permanent accommodation…about six days.

We now have our departure for Paris booked for two days prior to the arrival of our biometric card.  The biometric card is essential  for our return to England, so we have no choice.  Either the card arrives early, or we will eat the cost of our train tickets and initial nights’ accommodation in Paris.  It is hopeless to contact UK visas, we tried and again their online ’email a question’ section is absolutely useless.

Incidentally we believe this could have been resolved had we known it is timed for one week after our arrival in the UK – AS RECORDED ON OUR VISA APPLICATION.  Had we put a week earlier as our arrival date on our original application for a visa it would have resolved this problem.

So once again the expression that applies is ‘inshallah’.  

Another Day – Another Issue

 …OR What to do when the UK website gives you the wrong number for your health services fee.

Okay – so my visa came.   Now it is time to prepare my wife, Heather’s, application for a visa.  Question 1, since I am the applicant with the ‘ancestry’, does she apply for an ‘ancestry’ work permit  because she is eligible based on a relationship to me, or, does she apply as my ‘dependent’?

Scouring the UK Immigration site – no answer.  I then sent a note through the UK Immigration ‘question’ page.  The answer was basically – sorry we do not answer questions.  Then it was off to the Internet – nothing.  So what to do.

Make an educated guess – ‘dependent’.

Everything seems to go well until we reached the end of the electronic application.  We need to pay the Health Care [IHS] fee of £1,000 [£200 per year].  NO – it only allows me to pay for one year.   So yet more swimming in mud to try to find an answer to this problem.   We will keep you posted.

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After canvassing Reddit, the UK site, and Google there was no solution to the dilemma.

On the one hand we  completed the application  but the Health Premium showed only a fee for one year £200, but we knew we had to pay for five years, £1,000.  I did the usual, e-mailing the UK government contact e-mail.  Once again I received a prompt reply that was of no value.

We decided that having exhausted our ‘search for information’ – we would simply pay the one year fee, include a note to the UK visa office in New York.

But before doing that I decided to give their ‘pay by the minute’ line and see if they were any better.  They first confirmed that I had the correct application – in this case a non points based dependent work permit application.  The person then said yes, she understood the issue and what I should do is file the application through the VAC having paid for the one year IHS fee.  The UK visa office in New York would then contact me when they reviewed the application and give me instructions with regard to how to pay the remaining fee that was due.  Relief at last!  …or perhaps better put, we will file the application then wait to determine if the person was correct.

Our appointment at the VAC in Vancouver is booked for Friday.  We are fortunate that we are not doing this at the last minute because there can be delays given the lack of information available to applicants.

UK Ancestry ‘Visa’ Received

Copy of Ancestry Entry Clearance

Received by DHL my returned documents, after notification yesterday by e-mail from the UK Consulate in New York that the visa was approved.

What happens next – visa is valid for one month from the date I noted as ‘travel date’ on my original visa application.  Once we arrive in the UK I must go to the Post Office I listed as the point of collection for my biometric card.  That card acts as a primary document to show I have status in the United Kingdom, and must be used for re-entry to the UK.  COMPLICATION – our plan was to visit Bournemouth for nine days.  During that time we would locate a place to live, and open a bank account etc.  We were then going to travel to Paris.

However the letter from the Consulate says the card will be available as of ten days after my arrival in the UK.  With a trip to Paris booked nine days after our arrival we can only hope for arrival of the card a day early.

UK Ancestry Visa Application

Note this goes into more detail regarding the UK Ancestry Visa to provide information about issues that may arise when completing an application, so may not be of interest to a general reader.
 Garry’s visa application has gone the the UK Consulate in New York City.  Remember when being in the Commonwealth meant something?  Too bad they don’t have facilities in Ottawa.
Preparing the application was like swimming blind through murky muck.  Too often there was no hint of an explanation nor was there an explanation elsewhere on the internet.  For example [in case others are applying for a UK Ancestry visa]:

  • The applicant must be outside of the UK at the time of application.  Sounds good but then unexpectedly they request what UK post office you want your biometric card sent to – duh – I am not in the UK.  Later thanks to Reddit I believe I found the explanation.  Initially if approved you receive a cachet for entry to the UK.  Within a specified period you must appear at the post office you referenced in order to claim the biometric card.  Why not explain this to people?
  • I went to pay the visa fee online but no where could I locate it.  It turns out you go and pay the health care premium — THEN it sends you off to the portal for the visa fee payment.
  • Initially I read that they need my photo and fingerprints.  I went to the private company office that handles the UK application.  That office then forwards the application to the UK Consulate in New York.  They said they will take photos and fingerprints when I come in for an appointment.  Why not have an algorithm that shows the process?

Following completion of the online application and paying the fee, I was off to my appointment with the VAC.  [For history lovers there is an irony – the VAC in Vancouver is located at 1066 West Hastings — 1066 AD of course is the Battle of Hastings when the Normans conquered England.] 

VAC is a worldwide company that handles paper on behalf of many countries including UK and Canada.  There they checked over the application, took my photo and fingerprints, and, then we sent all of my papers, including my passport, off to New York via DHL.  In three weeks we will know.

There is no ‘age’ barrier.  I am 67.  We will see if they have a hidden agenda.  I clearly qualify based on a maternal grandmother, all of the documents were there.  Also funds were not an issue.  If there is discrimination it will be based on ’employment’.  I included both my CV and an outline of initial efforts to locate employment.  So we will see.

An interesting side note – we had to prepay our UK health coverage.  It is pricey – but it covers us for five years.  Also if someone is over the age of 65 the UK health care system covers prescriptions, and, also covers us in other EU countries if we are visiting.   In Canada we would have to pay for shots if we are traveling to an area of higher health risk such as India.  In the UK these shots are covered.  We are hoping/planning to visit India as part of this extended period away.

Given costs we thought it foolish to apply for Heather’s visa at the same time.  Hers depends on mine and each one ends up costing several thousand dollars.  So the three week wait begins.

Happy New Year 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017


The New Year has started.  Garry celebrated by spending the first three hours of the New Year on that ‘big white telephone to Bruce’.  This was after surgery in mid-December. Hmm – we will try harder next year to celebrate in a different manner.  Meanwhile for New Year’s Eve, Heather watched, again, Bridget Jones’s Diary.

The year of change for us.  To begin the year our property in North Vancouver was sold, and we bought a place in Penticton that we will rent out while we are gone. We finally sold our one of two cars.  It was a good car – but we soon discovered very few want manual transmissions these days.

Our original plan was to travel to Iceland — but Icelandair flights became more and more expensive to the point that we decided it was as easy to take a cheap flight from Europe later in the year.  Also Icelandair started charging for a second bag – and we could find better value with Air Transat.