How to move to England without a job

Millions of people would love to live in England – but can you move to England without a job?

Good question!

There are a few ways that you can move to England to live without a job lined up. While it’s possible, don’t expect it to be easy!

Moving to England without a job

First things first: if you want to work and live in England, you need to be approved for a UK working visa, or be an EU citizen. However with pending Brexit, EU citizens may need to also apply for visas in the future as well.

Before you begin your planning to move to England, make sure you are eligible for one of these work permit options:

  • Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa
  • Are an EU citizen
  • Ancestry visa
  • Spousal visa
  • Student visa (minimal working hours)
  • Tier 1 visa
  • Tier 2 visa (but must have a job already)

Searching through all the different types of visas can be really confusing. Not sure if you need a visa, or what one you qualify for? Check out the UK Government’s handy quiz here: Check if you need a UK visa.

Thinking about moving to England? Make sure to read my article: Living in England: Pros and Cons.”

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme Visa

If you want to move to England without lining up a job or being sponsored, a Tier 5 visa is an option. Of course, this visa isn’t available for everyone so you’ll need to meet the requirements before you apply.

A Tier 5 visa is also only valid for two years and is one-time only. Once you’ve been approved for this visa, you won’t be able to apply for it again. Commonly this visa is referred to as a Working Holiday visa since it’s short-term and is mainly for young people to get international experience.

For an in-depth guide on this visa, check out my article “The Ultimate Guide to the Working Holiday Visa UK.”

This is how I first came to the UK, but more details about that later! Overall is a great visa option.

You’ll also need to prove that you have a certain amount of savings to support yourself when you first move over. Make sure to read my article: How to Save Money for Travel | 7 Easy Tips to learn ways on how to save money – for travelling and moving abroad!

EU Citizens

Currently, EU citizens can move to England without having a job lined up, or a job offer already. We don’t know how Brexit will change this, but it may be years before the rules and regulations are different.

It could be that EU citizens will need to follow the same visa process as other countries, such as Canada and the USA. However, no one knows how this will look or when it would come into play.

Ancestry Visa

If your grandparents or parents are British citizens, you may be eligible for an Ancestry visa. This means you can come to the UK to live and work without having a job lined up before. 

If you meet the requirements, you’ll need to provide evidence that proves your British connection. Thankfully, you don’t need to have a job offer while you’re applying for this visa.

However, if you’re like me and your British heritage is farther back than grandparents, you won’t be eligible for this visa.

Spousal Visa

Are you married to a British or EU citizen? You can apply to live in the UK with your partner through this route. 

There’s a few different options, depending on your circumstances. You could come to the UK as a fiancé with your British or EU partner, but you won’t be able to work. As a fiancé, you’ll need to get married within a certain timeframe and you’ll be moved onto a spousal visa. If you’re already married, you can live and work in the UK as a spouse of a British or EU citizen. 

Make sure to note that just because you’re married doesn’t mean you’ll have free access to work and live in the UK. You’ll still need to be approved by the UK government until you are eligible for either British citizenship yourself, or indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Student Visa

If you want to study in the UK, looking into a student visa could be an option for you. However, it’s important to remember that international students are charged a much higher fee at universities, so you’ll need quite a lot of financial backing before being a student in the UK.

Students on this visa are also able to work, but only limited hours. If you’re approved for this visa, make sure to check the rules on what jobs you’re allowed to have while studying and how many hours you can work each week.

For more details about studying in the UK, check out my article: “UK Student Visa: What do I need to do?

Tier 1 visa

There are some other UK work visa options that are a bit less common. A tier 1 visa includes:

  • Entrepreneur visa
  • Exceptional Talent visa
  • Graduate Entrepreneur visa
  • Investor visa

If you are considered “exceptional talent” you could apply for a work visa through that route. Or if you are a business owner and want to set up a business in the UK, you could try that route instead. Of course, a Tier 1 visa have very specific requirements and funding needed.

Working in London

What did I do?

My route to working in the UK was a bit different, but not uncommon! I first applied for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa which allowed me to live and work in the UK for two years. Once I arrived, I moved in with my British boyfriend.

We lived together for the full two-year visa in a common law-type situation.

That meant that I was then eligible for an unmarried spousal visa. This visa means that you are unmarried but living in a common-law relationship for two years (and you can prove it). This visa option is great because you don’t have to be married, but you do need to live together for two years to be eligible.

What if I don’t qualify for any of those UK visas?

If you aren’t eligible for other visa options, you might have to get a UK employer to sponsor you for a job before you can enter the UK. Of course, this isn’t ideal. But if you really want to live in England, you might need to go this route.

This will typically be the Tier 2 General Work visa, but it can be tricky to get. UK companies will have to sponsor you before you move to the UK and it’s only available for certain jobs that pay a high enough wage. The company will also have to make sure that no British or EU person can do the job better or as good as you. If they can’t find anyone suitable, then the company can turn to sponsorship.

If you’re in a career that is considered highly skilled or is a shortage occupation in the UK, you’ll have a much better chance of getting this Tier 2 visa.

However if you’re like me, working an entry-level position, this visa won’t be possible.

How can I move to the UK from the US?

Most people who ask me about moving to the UK are American. The most common ways for Americans wishing to move to the UK are Ancestry, Student or Tier 2 General visa.

Unfortunately for Americans, the Tier 5 Youth visa isn’t available.

If you have exceptional talent in your field, you might be able to follow that visa instead. Or if you have enough money and wish to invest or start your business in the UK, you could try that. However, Ancestry, Student or Tier 2 are the most common options for Americans.

Finding a job in the UK

Once you’re legally allowed to work in the UK, the hardest part is over! Next you’ll need to find a job.

Of course, this will depend greatly on what career field you’re in, what your experience is like, what salary you’re looking for, etc. For me, I was looking for entry-level jobs to do with administration, so thankfully finding a job was really simple. There’s also millions of opportunities at pubs and restaurants, especially if you’re living in London.

Once you’re living in the UK with a proper working visa, you’ll need to also get a National Insurance Number. Check out my article: “How to Get a National Insurance Number for Foreigners” for more details. You’ll need this number in order to work and calculate the appropriate amount of tax.