Move to the UK

Moving to the UK? It’s much, much, easier for partners of Ancestry visa holders and EU citizens

So, your beloved partner lives in the UK and you’d like to join them. Well here’s some good news: If you’re in a relationship with an Ancestry visa holder, EU citizen or UK citizen, you will be able to move to the UK and live with them. There are various criteria and qualifications, but most of them are simpler than you think.

Move to the UK

Does your partner hold an Ancestry visa?

Many South Africans (and many other former colonial territories) can claim ancestral visas through a family link to the UK. What many South Africans don’t realise is that if their partner holds an Ancestry visa they too can go to live in the UK.

There are certain terms and conditions that you’ll have to fulfil, most applicants won’t struggle to satisfy these but it is strongly advised you approach an independent immigration expert for help.

One reason for the Ancestry visa’s popularity is that it allows the holder to work and live in the UK without many restrictions. It’s similar for the partners of Ancestry visa holders in that they are able to exercise all the rights and take on all the same obligations as the primary visa holder.

But here’s where it gets really interesting: When you’ve held and Ancestry visa for five years, you’ll be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain – as long as you’ve spent the correct amount of time in the country during that time. Once you’ve been on ILR for a year, you will be able to naturalise as a British citizen and apply for a British passport.

The truly great part about all this is that when you join your partner who is in the UK on an Ancestry visa, you will be able to apply for ILR when they are eligible to do so. This means that you could apply for ILR after only living in the UK for one year if your partner had already been living on their ancestry visa for four years.

Is your partner an EU citizen?

If you’re the partner of an EU citizen who is living in the UK you’re in for some very good news. It’s incredibly easy to live and work in the UK if you are the partner of an EU citizen.

Thanks to the UK still being part of the EU (as it will be for the foreseeable future), an EU citizen’s partner can move to the UK on what is known as an EEA family permit.

Once you are on an EEA family permit, you will be able to apply for an EU residency card after 6 months. Once you have your residency card for 5 years you can then apply for permanent residency and 1 year later you will be eligible to naturalise as a British citizen. Once that happens, you can apply for a British passport.

Let’s breakdown some of the benefits you’ll enjoy as the partner of an EU national living in the UK:

  1. Your EEA family permit is independent of your partner’s visa status. This means that you can apply for and EU residency card and then permanent residency even if your EU partner does not do so.
  2. Applying for permanent residency from an EU residency card costs only £80!
  3. You don’t have to pay the NHS surcharge (like all non-EU citizens).
  4. The only income requirement is that either you or your partner earn £8000 a year.
  5. Neither of you needs to hold full-time employment to remain in the UK.

Is your partner a UK citizen?

If you’re beau or belle is a British citizen you’d think you’d be a shoe-in for an easy ride to UK residency. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

The rules around bringing partners of UK citizens to the UK are extremely strict and applications are complex and costly.

You and your partner will be subjected to onerous income requirements: The UK citizen must earn at least £18,600 a year, rising to £22,400 if they have one non-British child and an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child.

As if that’s not enough you’ll have to stump up some serious money to apply for spousal visa renewals and your ILR application. Let’s look at these costs in a bit more detail.

You must pay:

  • £600 initially and then £500 for the extension of NHS coverage
  • The UK government charge of £811 (postal) or £1311 (fast tracked) in application fees
  • ILR application fees of £1875 (postal) £2375 (fast tracked)

Many have pointed out that a system that makes it easier for non-UK citizens to bring their partners to live with them in the UK compared to UK citizens is odd, to say the least. But what’s bad news for some is good news for others.

No partner? No worries

There are many UK visas ranging from work permits to investment visas. To make sure you apply for the right visa and avoid paying unnecessary fees, you should speak to a UK visas expert.

If you’re thinking of joining your partner who’s living in the UK, give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7759 7527. Alternatively, you can send us an email on and we’ll figure out the easiest and most cost-effective way for you to move to the UK.