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One of the requirements in the UK Ancestry Visa overview states:

"You can apply for a UK Ancestry visa if: you are able and planning to work in the UK"

Would working remotely for my current Canadian employer count? Or would I have to be working for an employer in the UK?

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The VAF2 application (more documents can be found here) is used to apply for the for the UK ancestry visa. Part 8 is concerned with employment and has 3 relevant questions

8.3 Please give details of:

  • any job offers including salary
  • the type of job you hope to take in the UK

8.4 Please give details of all qualifications you have that are relevant to this type of work.

8.5 Please give details of all work experience you have that is relevant to this type of work.

The guidance at the end is not particularly helpful. There seems to be two ways you could approach the questions. The first would be to list your Canadian employer. It is perfectly legal to work for an overseas company while living in the UK. The fact that your current employer will let you work remotely is like a job offer. The other option is to list the type of job that you would like to have in the UK (presumably similar to what you are currently doing) and not mention the "offer" from your current company.

In 5 years time when the ancestry visa expires, if you have only worked for an overseas company there might be problems renewing your visa or applying for settlement. Trying to guess what the UKBA requirements will be in 5 years is impossible.

  • Thanks for your help. So technically it would be like my current employment here in Canada will end and I will start new employment with the same company and working remotely in the UK? Why would there be problems applying for settlement? – wkm Mar 16 '14 at 21:23
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You should probably chat with a lawyer about the options here. However:

Intention of the Condition

My understanding is that the "work requirement" is there to ensure that you are willing and able to support yourself without recourse to public funds. It is also to stop people using it to retire to the UK, or living in the UK as persons of independent means. The latter cases should be using different visa options.

Employment Options for Ancestry Visa Holders

Based on historical discussions with my lawyer, the purpose of the Ancestry visa is definitely not tied to working for a UK registered company, unlike some of the other visas.

On the ancestry visa people can be self-employed and start/run their own companies, or even work part time and odd jobs (assuming they can make a reasonable living doing so). These would all be valid routes of "working in the UK", and could be considered valid. The main requirement is that you have some source of work/income that the immigration officer can feel confident in.

This is one of the points where the immigration officer has some leeway to decide, so it's up to you to convince them with a reasonable argument as to what you plan to do and how you are going to make a living. This could include your previous employer offering to carry on having you work for them, in my opinion.

Also note that immigration officers consider "positive feedback on job applications" and "salary survey results" as useful evidence when applying for the ancestry visa. My wife and I came in on the ancestry visa without a specific job offer, but lots of job-website submissions and lots of positive emails/feedback from potential employers. My understanding is that you could provide this AND letters from your previous employer (on a company letterhead) saying they will keep paying you to work remotely. This would help convince the Immigration agent, in my opinion.

Guidance

The UK Border Agency publishes their internal guidance notes on the Ancestry visa. They aren't particularly verbose on this point, unfortunately, but the other sections may help you.

Tax and Financial Implications

One further point here that I think you should consider is the tax and forex implications of working for a foreign company. You are likely going to be subject to $/£ currency fluctuations, since the company will probably want to pay you in $.

You may also find that you are still taxed in Canada, and need to jump through complicated hoops so as to not pay excessive double-tax. The previous employer in Canada may also have limited ability to not tax you as if you were resident in Canada.

If you are business savvy (and can prove that to the immigration agent), you might want to consider setting up your own company, or possibly using something like an Umbrella Company Provider. I'm not sure if the Umbrella companies allow for overseas work, though. You can potentially use this to simplify things for your previous employer, and to clarify your tax situation.

The company above, 1st Contact deals with foreign nationals arriving in the UK, setting up companies, giving immigration advice, and similar. I was their customer for about 3 years, and then moved to a different division of the same company. (Other than being a customer, I'm not affiliated). You might find they can advise you on this sort of thing.

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