Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Tuesday | February 19, 2013
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Mulling living and working in the UK
John S. Bassie
Dear Mr Bassie,

I would like to live and work in the United Kingdom. My grandparents were English and I was told that I am eligible to be granted permission to do so. Is this true? Any advice would be appreciated.- SG

Dear SG,

I will assume that you are a Jamaican. It may be possible for a Commonwealth citizen who has United Kingdom ancestry to be granted permission to live and work there.

An applicant in this category would have to show that he or she is a Commonwealth citizen and is age 17 or over. Also, if that person is able to work and/or plans to work in the United Kingdom, then that person should be able to adequately support and accommodate himself or herself and any dependants without help from public funds.

In addition, an applicant must show that at least one of his or her grandparents was born in the United Kingdom (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man); or before March 31, 1922, in what is now the Republic of Ireland; or on a British-registered ship or aircraft.

Furthermore, a person can claim ancestry if his or her relationship to the relevant grandparent is in a legitimate or illegitimate line. However, a person cannot claim United Kingdom ancestry through step-parents, but he or she can apply if that person or their parent (through whom the claim of ancestry) is adopted. The applicant must show evidence of the legal adoption with the submitted application form.

Please be aware that if persons do not meet these requirements, then they must apply under one of the other work-based immigration routes if they intend to go there and work.

When submitting an application, the applicant should include as many documents as possible to show that he or she qualifies for entry to the United Kingdom through United Kingdom ancestry. This should include, but certainly is not limited to, the applicant's full birth certificate, the applicant's parents' and grandparents' marriage certificates, and legal adoption papers if the applicant and/or the parent(s) are adopted. Also include the full birth certificates of the parent and grandparent through whose ancestry that person is applying; and the applicant's marriage certificate or civil partnership registration document, if that person's husband, wife or civil partner intends to join the applicant in the United Kingdom.

If the applicant is successful and the authorities grant him or her permission to enter and work in the United Kingdom because of his or her United Kingdom ancestry, then he or she will be allowed to stay for five years. At the end of this time, the successful applicant might be able to apply to settle there permanently.

Please be aware that for a person to apply on the basis of his or her United Kingdom ancestry, he or she must be outside the United Kingdom. It should be noted that a person cannot apply to 'switch' into this category if he or she is already in the United Kingdom in a different immigration category.

Obtain a visa

A person must also obtain a visa before he or she can travel there. If a person has lived and worked continuously in the United Kingdom for five years in this category, and if he or she still meets the United Kingdom ancestry requirements, then he or she can apply to settle there permanently. This is called 'indefinite leave to remain'.

If that person does not want to settle there when his or her visa expires, then he or she can apply to extend his or her stay instead. Also, that person's family members (known as 'dependants') can apply to travel with him or her to the United Kingdom or join him or her there, if that person can support them without needing any help from public funds.

That person's dependants are a husband, wife, civil partner or eligible partner and any children under 18 years of age.

I hope that this helps.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a Justice of the Peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (U.K.). Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com.

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