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Can I Move to The UK Without a Job? How I Did

One of the most frequently asked questions before moving to the UK is, can I move to the UK without a job?

Yes, you can move to the UK without a job if you have enough money to support yourself and if you are born to British parents or qualify for one of the following visa’s:

  • Tier 5 Youth Mobility (this is country and age-restricted)
  • UK Ancestry
  • Right to Abode
  • Spousal Visa (this includes if you have an EEA partner as well, will change for EEA after Brexit)
  • Student Visa (limited working hours)
  • Investor/ Set-up or run your own business
  • Exceptional Talent
  • And a few others…

To check if you qualify for any of the visa’s above there is a check UK Visa questionnaire you can use here.

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Breakdown of Common UK Visa’s

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa

If you are from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Monaco, Hong Kong, Taiwan or the Republic of Korea and between the ages of 18 and 30 the Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa could be the one for you.

It’s a perfect visa for those who want to move aboard, plus the UK is a great base for travel. Although this visa cannot be extended and means after the 2-year term has ended you will have to leave the UK, obtain sponsorship or another visa.

What you will need for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa:

  • Your passport
  • £1,890 in the bank
  • Visa fee plus the healthcare surcharge

Some professions will require you to be certified in the UK or have restrictions on certain jobs so do some research beforehand. For example, my friend couldn’t work as a pharmacist on her New Zealand qualification so she’s had to work as pharmacist’s assistant.

UK Ancestry Visa

If you have a grandparent born in the UK and are a Commonwealth citizen you may be eligible for a UK Ancestry Visa. Not only does this visa cover you moving to the UK but this visa can be extended to your family members or dependants (including unmarried and same-sex partners).

After spending 5 years in the UK, you can switch from the UK Ancestry to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) which is permanent residency and then naturalise after being on IRL for a year.

What you will need for a UK Ancestry Visa:

  • Your Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Parent birth certificate
  • Grandparent birth certificate
  • Potentially your grandparents’ and parents’ marriage certificates
  • Savings in your bank account – no official guidelines
  • Visa fee plus the healthcare surcharge.

Read more about applying for your UK Ancestry Visa here…

Right to Abode

If you have a British parent then you might be eligible to apply for a ‘right of abode’. Essentially as the child of a British citizen, you have the right to permanent residency. This is a right you inherited at birth.

What you will need for Right to Abode:

  • One of your parents was born in the UK and a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies when you were born or adopted
  • You were a Commonwealth citizen on 31 December 1982
  • You didn’t stop being a Commonwealth citizen (even temporarily) at any point after 31 December 1982.
  • Evidence of employment in the UK (if applicable)
  • Financial evidence – bank statements, term deposit statements etc.
  • Letter of invitation from a British citizen living in the UK (not mandatory, but preferential)
  • Proof of relationship documents – your birth certificate, your mother’s birth certificate (grandparents are not required)
  • Evidence of accommodation upon arrival (this can be a hotel booking or your referee in their letter of invitation can state that you are staying with them, even if this is not a long-term arrangement).

Read more about applying for your Right to Abode here…

Spousal Visa

Are you or your partner a British citizen, EEA National or settled in the UK (they have ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or proof of permanent residence) and you’ve been living together for more than two years or are married? Then you could be elidable for a spousal visa.

What you will need for a Spousal Visa:

  • A civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK; or
  • Prove that you have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years
  • A plan that you will marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within 6 months of arriving
  • Be capable of speaking English to a good level
  • Proof that you can financially support yourself
  • Visa fee plus the healthcare surcharge.

Can a US Citizen Live in the UK?

US Passport money and flag

It’s not as easy for an American to move to the UK like it is for Australian, Canadian or Kiwi. The most common type of visas for US citizen is a student, work or family visas.

Tier 2 Sponsorship visa is your best bet unless you have met the love of your life that’s a UK Citizen or someone that can have a spouse on their visa like the UK Ancestry. Sponsorship does defeat the purpose of moving without a job but it is a great option if you can find a placement.

Another option is if you have a UK heritage where your mum, dad or yourself were born in the UK you can get a passport.

If you have a Canadian (or another Commonwealth country) passport you could also look into your eligibility to get a youth mobility visa.

The Tier 4 Student visa is also an option but there will be restrictions for the adult and child visa types. The adult visa will allow you to work up to 20 hours as long as it doesn’t interfere with your studies.

Lastly the Tier 1 visa’s can be an option if you have enough money to get an investor, get an entrepreneur or bring your own business to the UK.

Use the link in the above section to see what you qualify for or consult with an immigration lawyer for the best options for you.

How to Move to the UK Without a Job

Many people have made the move like myself and it’s totally doable to move to the UK without a job. So how were myself and other successful? And if so, how did we go around finding employment once they got there?

From here on out I am going to assume you’ve figured out that you have the ability to work in the UK and you are now ready to start with the next steps. This guide will walk you through the two to three fundamental steps of moving to the UK:

  • Do you have enough funds ready for the move?
  • Applying for your visa (if required)
  • How to successfully job search (with hints and tips)

Do You Have Enough Funds Ready for the Move?

How much money should you bring to the UK

In my article how much money should I save to move to the UK I recommend bringing over £5,000 as a single person. The budget based on getting cheap accommodation like living in a hostel or moving into a shared house and without the visa cost included.

You should consider an amount that will cover three months’ worth of accommodation, travel, food, six weeks’ worth of bond money, being without a job and some money for fun activities per person.

You should also factor initial travel costs which can be another £50 to £1000 per person.

If you are lucky enough to have friends and family to stay within the UK they will be a life saver. Saving you a ton of money on accommodation!

You can also save money on travel cost by locating yourself near to a high street which will give you access to shops, parks and other facilities you may need. Being savvy with your money in general and knowing where to spend it will help the pocket too!

Planning to move to a new place without any funds is always risky. It’ll put you in positions like:

  • accepting a job you may not want to do
  • not being able to support yourself if there are issues with the market
  • many other issues that crop up when finding a job
  • or 2020 hits the world and we have no idea whether they will have a job.

Of course, this is fine if you are happy to accept the risk of not having enough savings.

Speaking from experience, I didn’t have enough money saved when I moved here and it ended up with a ton of credit card debt.

By making this mistake it meant having to go to my family and asking for my first months’ rent and bond.

Moving overseas was totally worth it but if I had put it off by three to fourth months to have enough money would have been better for my financial stability. I ended up spending four years paying off my debt each month.

How to Apply For A UK Working Visa (If Required)

The biggest part of getting a UK work permit is the preparations, mainly, the time to save (unless you’ve got that all sorted). All working permits will have pre-requisites and the two common ones are:

  • English language requirement.
  • Financial maintenance for yourself and any family members.
  • Valid Passport – No matter where you’re from, you’ll need a valid passport in order to enter the UK.

As a minimum, you will need to meet the financial requirements for your visa even if you don’t plan on moving with the recommendation mentioned above.

Additionally, the visa cost can be quite expensive in itself with the IHS surcharge.

I moved over on a UK Ancestry visa which is a 5-year working visa. It’s one of the more expensive visas as you have to pay for the IHS fee for every year of your visa a UK Ancestry Visa (i.e. 5 times £400 plus visa fee) which will set you back around £2,000 in fees alone.

Not all visas are clear in the financial requirements so to be safe I always recommend using the Youth Mobility requirement which is £1,890 per person if there is no definition.

Process for Applying for UK Visa’s

Six to three months before you intend to arrive in the UK you can apply for a UK visa depending on your visa type. Applications go through the British Embassy or High Commission closest to you and tend to be quicker when dealt with in Commonwealth countries. Processing time, in general, is around 3 weeks but it is visa dependent.

You can check the likely processing time for different nationalities on the UK government website.

Applications are started online, some visas are required to have your fingerprints and other biometric data recorded. This means that you will need to visit your nearest visa application centre (in your home country) to have your biometric data processed.

If you’re already in the UK (and need to switch your visa type or extend it for example) then you can apply at a UK based application centre. It’s highly unlikely you will be eligible to apply within the UK.

The general application process will be as followed:

  • fill in the application form and answer in English
  • pay the health surcharge
  • pay for the visa fee online (in most cases)
  • print out your form
  • book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre
  • have your biometrics taken (fingerprints and photo) for a biometric residence permit

What Happens If I Don’t Qualify for One Those Visas?

If you can’t meet any of the above then you will need to look into sponsorship which will require a job before you can move to the UK.

The visa structure means that your employer needs to be licensed before you can be considered for sponsorship.

Depending on the Tier 2 visa types you could also be evaluated against the points system and appear on the shortage occupation list. Make sure you double-check that the employer has a license or is willing to apply for one and for a better chance that your job is on the shortage list.

Alternatively, tier 1 visas could be an option if you have the exceptional talent, business or investor.

How to Successfully Job Search (Hints And Tips)

Finding a job in the UK can either be really easy or hard depending on your profession. London is very competitive and generally always has been.

It’s never affected my ability to get a job, with motivation and determination you will get there.

However, some industries are having a rough time with Brexit like the property industry and there have been redundancies with the downturn of the market.

My day job is as an IT project manager and on average each job it has taken me one month to land a job. I was willing to accept any job when I arrived so my first job in the UK was actually as an Information Manager not as a Project Manager.

After 9 months of deciding I wanted to stay in the UK I took a lower-level role as Project Coordinator. After another 9 months I moved on to be a Project Manager again and since then all my jobs have been as a Project Manager for the last 4 years.

The main ways I applied for these jobs was through jobs boards, connecting with recruiters and individual companies.

Here are 10 tips to get you started:

  1. In this day and age social media plays a big part in our lives. Check that your Facebook and social media presence is boss proof. Google yourself. Might be a bit awkward if they find a compromising photo of you.
  2. Update your resume, LinkedIn, any portfolios and general documents that go with job hunting. Then ensure on LinkedIn that you have ticked that you are open to new opportunities and are following influencers in your industry. LinkedIn is a popular tool in the UK to find jobs, I get a message at least every week from recruiters asking whether I want to apply for xyz job.
  3. Have a UK number – no one wanted to speak to my mum whilst she had an Australian number.
  4. In the UK the majority of jobs go through recruiters and they typically specialise in fields. Target recruiters that may suit your career by looking at who is advertising the job suitable for you.
  5. Register with the largest employment websites like Monster, Indeed, Total Jobs, and Job Site.
  6. Upload your resume to these job sites like Monster and Indeed. One of my bosses always recommended doing this on a Sunday so you are in the first batch that week recruiters are sifting through.
  7. When you find a job to apply to tailor your application to suit. You should be demonstrating your experience and utilising examples of how you meet the job description.
  8. In your cover letter and resume you could go beyond the role itself and look at the objectives of the organisation at large then help solve for those in your application.
  9. Be ready to write your resume to address different application requirements.
  10. Allow extra time for travel in case of some unforeseen event especially if you are new to the area. It is almost impossible to recover from being late to an interview.

More Living in the UK Articles

katherine nairn profile pic

Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.

Buy me a coffee at Ko-Fi button


Wednesday 17th of February 2021

Thank you so much for taking the time to write all of this!!! This is the best article ever and it has so much and only good easy to understand information!!! Thank you!!!


Friday 18th of September 2020

Hi am in Kenya wants to move to UK I was hoping to have a family adopt me I work for them as I study is it possible


Tuesday 12th of May 2020

Can you give details about the job prospects for software engineer in uk for immigrants?


Tuesday 12th of May 2020

With the introduction of IR35 (which is now delayed April 2021) it threw a spanner in the works. IR35 is where contractors for tax purposes, are an employee of the end client and therefore subject to PAYE. A lot the market was based around contracting but there are still, in my opinion, a high amount of permanent jobs excluding our current climate.

The bigger cities like Edinburgh, Manchester, London etc will have more opportunities.


Sunday 29th of March 2020

Hi kat Thank you so much ur blog has given me much details... But just a small doubt my mother is an Indian and my stepfather a British... how can I come to UK to seek work...

Please update me if u have any guidance on the same

Ismaheel Abimbola

Tuesday 14th of January 2020

In fact am very happy about this info you share here. Am planning to move to uk. Hopefully may God let it work out for my family.

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