It is not just that Queen Elizabeth II is to be seen on Canadian currency, or that most Canadians know the words to 'God Save the Queen' – many Canadian citizens have an ancestral or family connection to the UK which may give rise to a basis on which they can apply for a visa to move to the UK. For example, as a citizen of Canada, you might have a British parent, grandparent, or partner. In this post we look at the options you might have for relocating to the UK as a Canadian with a British parent, grandparent or partner, as well as alternative UK visa options for Canadians without a British family member.
It is important to note that 'British'-born citizens referred to in this post also refers to those born in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Do Canadians Need a Visa for the UK?
Canadians with a British Parent
If you are Canadian and you have a British parent, you may be a British citizen, and may be able to apply for a British passport rather than a visa.
If you were born after 01 January 1983, and you have a parent who is British "otherwise than by descent", you may be a British citizen.
Establishing whether your parent is British by 'descent' or not can be complex. It will depend on where and when they were born.
If your parent was born in the UK, they are probably British "otherwise than by descent", so you may be British yourself.
Family members of British and Dual British/Canadian Citizens residing in Canada
If you are a dual British/Canadian national, or a British citizen living in Canada, and you wish to come to the UK with your family, you may be able to sponsor them to join you under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules (see below).
UK Visas for Canadians
UK Visas for Canadians with a British Grandparent
If you are a Canadian citizen and you have a British grandparent, you may be able to apply for a UK Ancestry visa. In summary, you will need to show that you:
- You are a Commonwealth citizen (which you are, as a Canadian citizen);
- You are aged 17 or over on your date of intended arrival to the UK;
- You are able to provide proof that one of your grandparents was born in the United Kingdom or Islands;
- Any such grandparent is your blood grandparent or grandparent by reason of an adoption recognised by the laws of the United Kingdom relating to adoption;
- You are able to adequately maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants;
- You are able to work and intend to seek and take employment in the UK;
- If you are under the age of 18, your parent(s) or guardian(s) have consented to the application;
- You have provided a TB Certificate, if required. This is not required if you have resided in Canada, but may be required if you are resident elsewhere.
If you are successful in applying for a UK Ancestry visa, you will be able to live in the UK for up to five years.
If you have lived in the UK for five years with a UK Ancestry visa, and meet some additional requirements, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), which would allow you to live in the UK permanently.
Once you have ILR, you can apply to naturalise as a British citizen, if you wish.
If you have a partner and/or children, they can come with you to the UK if you have a UK Ancestry visa.
UK Visas for Canadians with a British Partner
If you are Canadian and your partner is British, your partner may be able to sponsor you to travel with him/her to the UK or join him/her in the UK. For the purposes of the Immigration Rules a "partner" is a spouse or civil partner, a fiancee or proposed civil partner, or an unmarried partner (defined as "a person who has been living together with the applicant in a relationship akin to marriage for at least 2 years prior to the date of the application").
An application as a partner is made under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules. The requirements are, in summary:
- The Sponsor is a British or Irish citizen, or holds Indefinite Leave to Remain, which includes Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme;
- You are both over the age of 18;
- You have met in person;
- Your relationship is genuine and you intend to live together permanently;
- Any previous relationships have broken down permanently;
- There is adequate accommodation for you and any dependants;
- You speak and understand English to the required level (this is met automatically if you are a Canadian citizen).
In addition, there is a specific financial requirement which must be met in most cases. It is usually necessary to show that the Applicant or Sponsor has an income of at least £18,600 per year. The amount required is higher if you have children who are not British. You have to have an additional £3,800 per year for the first child and an additional £2,400 each for any further children. You can find out more about meeting the financial requirement with children here.
If the income you rely upon is salary from employment or income from self employed work it is necessary to show that the Sponsor alone has a sufficient income. There are a variety of different sources of income on which you can rely, so it is not always essential to be able to meet the financial requirement by relying on salary alone. For example, you may be able to rely on non-employment income or savings (see here for further information about this).
Youth Mobility Visas
Canada is amongst the countries whose citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 may come to the UK for a period of two years to experience life in the UK, and these visas include the permission to undertake employment and study in the UK. This visa is known as a Youth Mobility Visa. There is a yearly quota for the number of these visas granted which varies from country to country; there are presently 6000 Youth Mobility Visas available annually to Canadian citizens.
The basic requirements Canadian citizens need to meet for this visa are as follows:-
- You are aged between 18 and 30 on the date of the application;
- You are a citizen of Canada;
- You have funds of £2,530 which you have held for a 28 day period within the 31 days before your application;
- You do not have any children under 18 who are living with you or are financially dependent on you;
- You have not previously been in the UK on the Youth Mobility Scheme route;
- You have paid the visa application fee and Immigration Health Charge and provided any required biometric information;
- You have taken a tuberculosis test, if required;
- You do not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal.
Many Canadians who come to the UK with Youth Mobility Visas make connections which lead to further work opportunities in the UK or to eligibility for other visas, such as under the family routes.
If You Are Canadian and Have No Family Ties to the UK, or You Cannot Meet the Requirements of the Categories Mentioned Above:
As a Canadian citizen you may still have UK visa options depending on why you want to come to the UK and how long you want to stay here.
For example, the UK offers a range of long-term and short-term work and business immigration routes (sponsored and non-sponsored) for Canadians, including:
- Long Term Work Visas (including Skilled Worker, International Sportsperson and Minister of Religion)
- Short Term Work Visas (including High Potential Individual and Creative Worker)
- Business Visas (including Start-up and Innovator)
- Global Business Mobility Visas (including Senior or Specialist Worker and UK Expansion Worker)
- Talent Visas
The UK also offers a range of Short Stay Visit Visas to citizens of Canada for purposes such as:
- Visiting friends, family and/or for a short holiday;
- Short-term unpaid business activity;
- Unpaid creative activities;
- Short courses of study or research;
- Unpaid sporting activities;
- Receiving private medical treatment;
- Marriage or civil partnership in the UK;
Canadian citizens are 'non visa nationals' (see the list here for those countries whose citizens are 'visa nationals', Canada is not on this list), which means they do not need to apply for entry clearance in advance to visit the UK unless they wish to marry or access medical treatment for an extended period. Provided you wish to undertake the activities permitted for visitors (see the links above), normally a Canadian visitor will be granted up to 6 months leave to remain as a visitor on entry.
There are also options for Canadians who wish to study in the UK.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.