How Can I Work In the UK Without a Job Offer?
The most popular work visas in the UK, including the Skilled Worker visa, Health and Care visa, and Temporary Work visa, all require that applicants have a valid job offer from a sponsoring employer before they apply, but there are visa routes for which a job is not needed. Depending on your circumstances, it may be possible to acquire a work visa in the UK based on your profession, skills, and educational background rather than having to secure employment. While a job offer may not be required, other requirements must be met. In this article, we will look at work visas that do not require applicants to have a job offer, including the High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, the Global Talent visa, and the Graduate visa
High Potential Individual (HPI) visa
The HPI visa is for individuals who graduated from a top international university (this route is not open to applicants from UK universities – see UK Graduate visa below). HPI visa holders can stay in the UK for up to 2 years (or 3 years if they have a PhD or another type of doctoral qualification). It is important to note, however, that the HPI visa cannot be extended. This means that those who wish to stay longer will have to switch to a different type of visa once in the UK, such as a Skilled Worker visa. Depending on which visa you choose to switch to within the UK, you may need a job offer before you apply. In practice, this means that you can come to the UK without a job offer on an HPI visa and find a job within the 2 or 3-year period granted before making the switch to another work visa type.
To qualify for an HPI visa, you must have graduated from one of the top universities listed on the Home Office’s website in the last 5 years. The list changes each year based on the ranking of universities around the world. Applicants must have graduated with the equivalent of a UK degree, master’s degree, or PhD or doctorate. In addition, they must meet the English language requirement and have at least £1,270 to support themselves in the UK.
Global Talent visa
The Global Talent visa is aimed at leaders and potential leaders in either academia or research, arts and culture, or digital technology. Those applying in the field of academia of research must be a leader or potential leaders in science, medicine, engineering, or humanities. The arts and culture category is for those in the areas of combined arts, dance, literature, music, theatre or visual arts, architecture, fashion design, and film and television. Digital technology spans the areas of financial technology (‘fintech’), gaming, cyber security, and artificial intelligence.
One of the real strong points of the Global Talent visa is that it allows holders to stay for up to 3 or 5 years and then apply for indefinite leave to remain (i.e. permanent residency). As such, this provides one of the fastest routes to permanent settlement of all UK visas. The eligibility criteria for the Global Talent visa depends on your field of expertise – i.e. the rules for those in the area of digital technology are different from those in the area of arts and culture. Most Global Talent visa applicants are required to gain endorsement from an approved endorsing body in the UK confirming that they are a leader or potential leader in their area.
UK Graduate visa
The UK Graduate visa is for overseas nationals who hold a student visa (or a Tier 4 General Student visa) and have recently graduated from a UK university with a degree or above. UK Graduate visa holders can stay in the UK for 2 years, allowing them time to find work, work, be self-employed, and travel. While the Graduate visa cannot be extended, it is possible for holders to switch to a different visa, as long as this is done before their visa expires. Graduate visa holders typically switch to a long-term work visa, such as a Skilled Worker visa, allowing them to stay for up to 5 years, at which point they can apply for permanent residency.
How to apply for a work visa without a job offer
To apply for one of the visas outlined above, you will need to complete the online application process. The exact process you will need to follow, including the form you complete, the fees you pay, and the documents you will need to provide to support your case, will depend on the type of visa you apply for. In general, you will need to:
- Complete the online application form for your chosen work visa type
- Pay the application fee and healthcare surcharge (the healthcare surcharge is normally £624 per year and allows work visa holders to access the National Health Service if they require emergency or routine healthcare)
- Book an appointment at a UKVCAS office (if in the UK) or a UK visa application centre (VAC) (if outside the UK) in order to have your identity checked, your photo taken, and your fingerprints scanned (your biometrics)
- Upload all of the documents requested by UKVI to support your work visa application
Assuming that your case is straightforward and you have provided all of the necessary information, you can expect your application to take around 8 weeks to be processed if you are applying in the UK or around 3 weeks if applying outside the UK.
As we have outlined in this article, it is not mandatory to secure a job offer for all UK work visas. That said, in some cases, you may need to switch to a different visa once in the UK, and this may require you to have a job offer (i.e. if you switch to a Skilled Worker visa). Although not covered here, remember that there are other visas (not specifically work visas) that allow holders to work in the UK without first securing employment, including the dependant visa and the spouse visa.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with understanding your UK work visa options, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or by emailing [email protected]. We’re here to help!