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cityguru, Solicitor
Category: Immigration Law
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Experience:  Approved Immigration Expert.
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Hi, I am a South African citizen living in the UK with my fiancee

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Hi, I am a South African citizen living in the UK with my fiancee on an ancestry visa (in my first year here). My fiancee is a UK citizen and born in the UK and we are marrying next year in South Africa.

He runs his own company (of which I am an employee) and in recent months we have secured a new contract in the USA/Europe and also other work in China. He will now be forced to live away for up to 6 months per year and I would obviously like to travel with him. My questions are as follows:

1. How long can I spend outside of the UK per year without affecting my chance of eventually gaining UK citizenship? (On ancestry visa)
2. After we marry how will this change? Can I have right to remain in UK indefinitely?
3. I have heard of 3 years, 270 days outside of UK max, 90 days in final year to gain citizenship rules. Will this be affected by my travel outside of uk or marriage to him?
4. After we marry will I still need a Schengen visa for Europe and visa for USA?
5. What is the fastest and safest way for me to gain citizenship in my position? I fear that visa application for all overseas travel could become tiresome with his need for me to travel with him.

Thanks in advance,

Hi Cassandra. You should have been given a 5 year visa if you came on an ancestry basis. At the end of 5 years you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. If you marry and switch to a spouse visa then you will normally get 21/2 years and can extend that until you have need here 5 years when you can apply for settlement. So in practical terms it makes little difference whether you stay on an ancestry visa or not. You have to be here for 5 years to apply fro settlement i.e. Indefinite Leave to Remain ( ILR)

You have to have ILR for 12 months before you can apply for citizenship. So again either way it makes little difference. You cannot spend more than 270 days out of the uk in the 3 months before settlement and not more than 90 days in the immediately preceding year.

There are similar residence requirements for citizenship but as I say you have to meet the ILR requirements first.

Let me know what else I can tell you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for the reply.

And just one final question, what if I stay outside the UK for more than 270 days while on my ancestry visa? Will I qualify for ILR at the end of my ancestry visa term?
The current rules for those i work categories are that you cannot be absent for more than 180 days in any year so you have more flexibility in that category but you need to bear in mind that you will still need to meet the residence requirement for citizenship which is not more than 270 days in 3 years and not more than 90 in the year preceding the application for citizenship.

If you are not concerned about citizenship then provided you can show that your principal place of residence is the uk and that is where your work is based then it should not be a problem to get ILR
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Just to confirm, is Ancestry visa classed as a "work category"?

Yes it is as you are expected to come to work and have to support yourself without recourse to public funds The rules are fairly flexible but one of the requirements it that you intend to work or seek work . If you do not work at all I do not think you would get ILR under this category.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I am full time employed so won't be a problem, from what youve told me I can be outside of the UK for 90 days per year to safely guarantee my citizenship in 2015.


Thanks for your help.



That is correct assuming you came in 2009. You need 5 years for ILR and then another year for citizenship