UK Work Visas in 2023: UK Work Visas without a Job Offer

Currently, there are over 31 different types of UK Work Visas that we can subdivide into 5 main categories:

  1. UK Work Visas without a Job Offer
  2. UK Work Visas with an Overseas Employer
  3. Temporary UK Work Visas
  4. UK Work Visas to Start a Business in the UK
  5. Other Categories of UK Work Visas

In this series of articles, you’ll get an overview of all these visa types that will help you understand the purpose of each visa route and decide if this route is for you.

This article covers ten UK Work Visas without a Job Offer.


UK Work Visas without a Job Offer

A UK Work Visa without a Job Offer is arguably the best type of UK Work visa because it offers flexibility, independence and, in many cases, the possibility of settling in the UK after 5 years. In some cases, the applicants can settle in the UK only after 3 years.

As you’ll see below, in many cases, to apply for this visa type, you don’t have to have an employer (the Sponsor) that is registered with and licensed by the Home. Also, the employers don’t have to comply with the Home Office Sponsorship requirements.

Most importantly, you do not have to work for the same employer for a certain period to qualify to apply for settlement (if this route offers settlement).

The only obvious downside of this category of UK Work visas is that their scope is very limited. In most cases, it is limited to nationals of a particular country or individuals with a specific or unique set of skills.


1.1 Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BNO)

The BN(O) Status Holder route is for a British National (Overseas) status holder who is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, the UK or the Crown Dependencies. A dependent partner and a dependent child of a British National (Overseas) status holder can apply under this route. Other family members with a high degree of dependency may also apply under this route. Those who qualify to apply as Hong Kong British National (Overseas) can settle, usually after 5 years. That is provided they meet other requirements for settlement.

You can work anywhere (including self-employment and voluntary work) except for employment as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach).


1.2     Hong Kong British National (Overseas): the BN(O) Household Member

The BN(O) Household Member route is for the adult child of a BN(O) status holder or of the partner of a BN(O) status holder who is aged 18 or over and born on or after 1 July 1997. The child of a BN(O) status holder’s dependent partner, dependent child and, in exceptional circumstances, other family members with a high degree of dependency may apply under this route.

The adult child of the partner of a BN(O) status holder may apply with their dependent partner and dependent child, and they all have to form part of the same household as the British National (Overseas) status holder when they apply.

Applicants under this route can also settle in the UK if they meet the requirements.


1.3 Graduate

This route was born on 1 July 2021. It may be more accurate to say that it was reborn on that day. The UK Government has already made several attempts to introduce similar types of UK immigration routes for graduates in the past.

This route is for students wishing to work or look for work after completing an eligible course of study at a UK bachelor’s degree level or above. The study must have been with a higher education provider with a track record of compliance.

This route does not allow the applicants to settle (apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain) in the UK. Most applicants can remain in the UK for 2 years after their studies. PhD students can stay for 3 years.

However, this route does allow to switch to other categories that lead to settlement. For example, those with a Graduate visa can switch to a Skilled Worker visa. In other words, if you aim to settle in the UK, you should view this visa as a breather that you may use, for example, to find the best Sponsor for your Skilled Worker visa. However, if you can apply for a Skilled Worker straight after graduation, you should consider doing so instead of taking this Graduate visa diversion as you’ll pay less visa/legal representation fees and can settle in the UK sooner.


1.4 Youth Mobility Scheme

This UK immigration route was known as ‘Working Holiday Makers’ before. The Youth Mobility Scheme provides a cultural exchange programme that allows people aged between 18 and 30 from participating countries and territories to experience life in the UK for up to 2 years. This visa is only for two years and does not allow you to settle in the UK.

You can work for any employer. However, you should be aware of certain limitations if you plan to be self-employed. There are three restrictions:

  1. You cannot buy any business premises.
  2. The total value of any equipment used in the business should not exceed £5,000; and
  3. You cannot employ other people.


1.5 Global Talent

This UK Work Visa category is limited to people aged 18 or over in the field of science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology or arts and culture who can show they have exceptional talent or exceptional promise.

If you would like to apply in this category, you’ll need one of the following:

(a) an endorsement from the Royal Society, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering or UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); or

(b) Arts Council England or Tech Nation will need to endorse you under their exceptional talent criteria;

(c) prove that you have won one of the Prestigious Prizes listed in Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes.

If one of the above applies to you, you can settle only after 3 years.


1.6 UK Ancestry

The UK Ancestry route is a route that is limited to Commonwealth citizens aged 17 or over who want to live and work in the UK and who have a grandparent who was born in the UK or Islands.

There are several unique features in this immigration category. First of all, you don’t even have to have a job to make your UK Ancestry application. According to the rules, you can succeed by simply demonstrating that you can work and intend ‘to seek and take employment’ in the UK.

Secondly, in assessing whether you meet the financial requirement for this type of application, the decision maker may take into account ‘credible promises of financial support from a third party’, such as a relative or friend of the applicant. This generous provision is rare and usually applies only in exceptional circumstances.

Successful UK Ancestry applicants can settle after 5 years, provided they meet the ILR requirements.


1.7  High Potential Individual

UK Work Visas in 2023: UK Work Visas without a Job Offer
UK Work Visas in 2023: UK Work Visas without a Job Offer

The UK Government launched the this UK Work Visa route  on 30 May 2022. It is limited to recent graduates of top global universities, who want to work or look for work in the UK, after successfully completing an eligible course of study equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree level or above. You’ll find a list of ‘top global universities’ on the Global Universities List.

Successful applicants can do any work, including self-employment and voluntary work. However, they cannot work as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach).

This route does not allow the applicants to settle in the UK. However, it’s an excellent foundation for those who would like ‘to test the waters’ before making a decision to relocate to the UK permanently.


1.8  Ukraine Scheme: Ukraine Family Scheme

A Ukrainian national can qualify under the Ukraine Family Scheme if they are a family member (as defined) of a UK-based sponsor who is a British citizen, a person settled in the UK, a refugee, a person with humanitarian protection, or EEA or Swiss citizen with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (where based on residence in the UK before the end of the transition period).

This route does not lead to settlement. The UK Government expects the applicants to either leave the UK after 3 years or switch to another immigration category.


1.9.  Ukraine Scheme: Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme      

UK Work Visas in 2023: UK Work Visas without a Job Offer
UK Work Visas in 2023: UK Work Visas without a Job Offer

A Ukrainian national may also qualify under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme if they have an Approved sponsor who will provide accommodation for at least 6 months.

As with Ukraine Family Scheme, it will not be possible to settle under this route. The successful applicants will get their leave to enter/remain for 3 years. They’ll need to switch or leave the UK before the expiry of their visa.


1.10  Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) 

This route allows Afghan citizens and their dependent family members to relocate to, or settle in, the UK. To succeed, you’ll need to prove that the Ministry of Defence has decided that you meet the requirements for relocation to the UK as an eligible Afghan citizen under Appendix Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy.

If you are outside the UK and meet the requirements for entry clearance (visa application made outside the UK), you will get indefinite permission to enter (settlement) upon your arrival to the UK.

If you are already in the UK and meet the requirements for settlement – you will get indefinite permission to stay (settlement). This means there won’t be any limitations on where you can work in the UK.


Continue reading about the next category of UK Work Visas in 2023 HERE

UK Work Visas in 2023: UK Work Visas without a Job Offer