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Can I Obtain A UK Work Visa Without An Employment Offer?

You generally need a valid UK employment offer to qualify for a UK work visa. However, some unique work visa routes allow you to obtain a UK work permit without a job offer.

London Immigration Lawyers can guide you through obtaining a work visa. We can help you via the phone, online, or in person. Visit our office or contact us at 020 3051 3897 for immediate assistance from one of our lawyers. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.

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    UK Work Visas

    Foreign nationals need work permits to work legally in the UK. In most cases, overseas workers who want to come to the UK for work must be sponsored by a UK company approved by the Home Office to qualify for a UK work visa. This means they must have an employment contract and a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a UK Home Office approved employer before processing a skilled worker visa application. Also, the job title or employment must be from an eligible job in the shortage occupation list approved by the UK Government.

    Many of the most popular UK work visa routes, such as the Skilled Worker Visa, Global Business Mobility Visa, Temporary Worker Visa, Seasonal Worker Visa and the Health and Care Worker Visa, require an employment offer and a CoS from a licensed sponsor to be eligible to apply.

    While an employment offer and CoS are compulsory for most work permit routes, some visa categories are exempted from these requirements. We’ll be exploring UK work visa without job offer paths in this guide.

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    Obtaining a UK Work Visa Without A Job Offer

    If you’re seeking to work in the UK but do not qualify for any of the skilled worker categories, you can explore other visa routes. There are UK work visa options that do not require a job offer as part of the eligibility criteria. These visa routes are open to foreign citizens that meet other specific requirements.

    The UK visas that do not need a job offer are:

    • Graduate Visa
    • Global Talent Visas
    • High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa
    • Start-Up Visa and Innovator Visa
    • UK Ancestry Visa

    Each of these Visa types is tailored for specific categories of persons. Our London Immigration lawyers can help assess your situation and recommend the best option if you are in doubt about which is best for you. Reach us via our online contact form or phone at 020 3051 3897 to speak with one of our lawyers.

    Graduate Visa

    The UK Graduate Visa programme is designed for international students who have successfully completed their degree programme in a UK Institution. This visa programme allows them to stay in the UK to seek employment for up to two years (or up to three years for PhD holders) after completing their studies.

    The UK Government introduced the Graduate Visa route in 2021 to enable foreign graduates from UK institutions to enter the UK labour market. The eligibility requirements for a Graduate Visa are:

    • Have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree course at a UK institute of higher education
    • Still hold a valid Student Visa and be within the UK at the time of application

    Unlike the Skilled Worker and the Temporary Worker Visas, a Graduate Visa holder can change jobs, partake in voluntary work, or be self-employed. There are also no minimum salary requirements, and they can work at any skill or salary level. A Graduate Visa holder may change visa type to a Skilled Worker Visa if they get a sponsorship job offer in the adult social care sector, engineering, IT, Arts & Entertainment or other sectors in the shortage occupation list.

    A Graduate Visa is a Temporary Work Visa valid for two to three years and cannot be renewed upon expiration. However, Graduate Visa holders can switch to Skilled Worker Visas once they meet the required criteria.

    Global Talent Visa

    The Global Talent Visa is designed for foreign highly-skilled workers who are recognised leaders or potential leaders in academia, research, digital technology, or arts and culture. The visa is usually valid for five years, has no minimum salary requirements, and is a route to permanent settlement. You must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the Global Talent Visas:

    • 18 years or older
    • Be endorsed by a recognised endorsing body or must have received a global award
    • Have a basic command of the English language (at least B2 on CEFR scale)

    Global Talent Visa allows unlimited extensions and fast-track settlement after three years of UK residency. To qualify for fast-track settlement, you must be endorsed by a UK Government-recognised public institution such as the British Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Academy, the Royal Society, Tech Nation, or UK Research and Innovation.

    High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa

    The UK Government introduced the High Potential Individual Visa (HPI) in May 2022 to attract highly-skilled international graduates to the UK. This visa route is open to foreign nationals with Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD degrees from qualifying higher institutions on Home Office’s global universities list. It does not require a UK job offer; successful applicants can find jobs once they arrive in the UK.

    To be eligible for an HPI Visa, you must:

    • Be 18 years or older
    • Hold a degree from a recognised university in the Home Office’s global universities list
    • Have graduated within the five years before your application
    • Meet the language requirements
    • Show proof of enough funds to help you settle in (at least £1,270)

    HPI Visa is a temporary visa usually valid for two or three years (for PhD holders). It is not renewable and is not a route to permanent residency. HPI Visa holders can switch to other work visa routes, provided they meet all the eligibility requirements for Skilled Worker Visas.

    Asides from the £715 application fee, you’ll have to pay an additional £210 for Ecctis to verify your qualification if you’re outside the UK and £252 if you’re within the UK.

    Our expert immigration lawyers can assist with your UK Work Visa application. Contact us

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      Start-Up Visa and Innovator Visa

      The UK grants Start-Up Visas to migrants or entrepreneurs coming to the UK to set up a new business. Start-Up Visa holders can take up employment to support themselves in the UK while setting up their businesses. This visa is valid for only two years and cannot be renewed, but it can be switched to an Innovator Visa once you’ve established your business.

      An Innovator Visa is for more experienced entrepreneurs who are more financially stable and will not need to work to support their businesses. An Innovator Visa holder is expected to be fully involved in the day-to-day running of their business.

      The visa is valid for three years and offers unlimited extensions. Innovator Visa holders can also apply for permanent residency after three years.

      Requirements for Start-Up Visa and Innovator Visa Applications

      To qualify for a Start-Up Visa or an Innovator Visa, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

      • A recognised endorsing body must endorse your application to ensure your business idea or model is viable, innovative and scalable. The endorsing body could be a UK higher education institute or a UK business incubator
      • You must have a £50,000 minimum business capital (for the Innovator Visa)
      • You must meet the English language requirement
      • If applying for a Start-Up Visa, you must have a minimum of £1,270 in savings

      UK Ancestry Visa

      The Ancestry Visa is designed for British overseas and Commonwealth citizens with UK ancestry. This visa is usually valid for five years and is a route to permanent settlement. To qualify for this visa, you must prove that you have a grandparent born in the UK, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands. You can apply if you are one of these:

      • A British overseas citizen
      • A Commonwealth citizen
      • A British national (overseas)
      • A British overseas territories citizen
      • A citizen of Zimbabwe

      Also, you must satisfy the following criteria:

      • Be 17 years or older
      • Provide proof that you have a grandparent born in the UK, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands
      • Show that you intend to work in the UK
      • Provide proof that you have the financial ability to support yourself and your dependants without the help of public funds
      • Be outside the UK at the time of application

      How to Apply for UK Work Visas

      Applications for UK work visas are made online. You need to apply online by completing the forms and paying the required fee for your application to be valid. You must also attach the relevant supporting documents for your visa type.

      Once you’ve successfully completed your application, you’ll be booked for a biometric appointment at a Visa Application Center. The Home Office will review it, and you’ll get a decision between 3 weeks and three months of submission.

      At London Immigration Lawyers, we’ll help you sort the documentation you need for a hassle-free application process. We can help you via the phone, online or in person.

      Cost of Applying for UK Work Visas

      Application fees vary for the different UK work visas. How much it will cost you to apply for one depends on the visa route you’re applying through. Here’s a breakdown of the work visa application fees.

      Visa Type Application Fee Annual
      Proof of Funds
      Graduate Visa £715 £624 N/A
      Global Talent Visa £623 £624 N/A
      High Potential Individual Visa £715 £624 £1,270
      Start-Up Visa £378 from outside the UK
      £508 from within the UK
      £624 £1,270
      Innovator Visa £1,036 from outside the UK
      £1,292 from within the UK
      £624 £1,270
      Ancestry Visa £531 £624 N/A

      Find out how we can assist with your UK Work Visa application. Contact us

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        How Can London Immigration Lawyers Help?

        There are several routes approved by the UK Home Office for obtaining a work visa without a job offer. However, determining which path is best for you and completing the application can be a daunting task.

        Our experienced team of London Immigration Lawyers understand the complexities of UK immigration rules and can provide advice to ensure your visa application is as successful as it can be. We offer an individual approach to each client, with comprehensive advice tailored to their personal circumstances and goals. Our team use their expertise and knowledge to help ensure that you have a smooth and stress-free visa application process so that you can obtain your visa in good time.

        We are available to help and answer any questions you may have at any time. Call us today on 020 3051 3897 or get in touch online and let us help you achieve your UK visa goals.

        Call us for further assistance with your UK Work Visa application. Contact us

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    You can move to the UK without a job through specific visa routes such as a Global Talent Visa, Ancestry Visa, Graduate Visa, and High Potential Individual Visa. However, you’re expected to take up employment while in the UK.

                    It is possible to get a UK work visa without a job and migrate to the country through an Ancestry Visa, Start-Up, Innovator Visa, and High Potential Individual Visa routes. However, you must show that you have sufficient funds to support your stay.

                    Different UK work visa types are available for both short and long term stay. Choosing the best for you depends on different factors including your skills and qualifications, the type of work and job description, if you have a job offer or sponsorship and if your family will be coming with you.