How To Move To The UK From The US Without A Job?

London bus moving on a rainy night

One might migrate to the UK from the US for hundreds of reasons, including culturally diverse workplaces and communities, world-class healthcare, top schools and colleges, and stunning natural scenery. However, the primary mode of relocating to the UK is getting a job offer there. With that being said, can you move to the UK without a job?

Visas that don’t require a work offer let you migrate from the US to the UK. These visa routes include the following:

  • Graduate visa
  • Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa
  • UK Ancestry visa
  • Family visa
  • High Potential Individual visa
  • Global Talent visas
  • Elite Sportspeople – sportsperson visa

This page provides a detailed guide about migrating to the UK without a job. You can learn about visa routes that don’t require a work offer, their qualifications, and how to apply here.

Also, don’t miss our guide on moving to the UK from Canada.

Can you move to the UK without a job as an American?

Definitely! You can move to the UK legally without a job. All you have to do is qualify for the different visa routes that don’t require a job offer.

Let’s discuss each of them in this section. 

1. Graduate Visa

Photo of people wearing academic gowns and throwing their graduation caps

If you don’t have a job but aim to pursue further studies and stay in the United Kingdom, then a Graduate visa will allow you to do that.

Graduate visas allow you to stay in the UK for at least two years after completing a course there. The best way to apply for a graduate visa is to secure a student visa, study in the UK, and then apply.

If you meet all the following requirements, you can apply for a Graduate visa:

  • You are currently located in the United Kingdom during the time of your application
  • The visa you are currently holding is a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • Your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa requires a year of UK bachelor’s, postgraduate, or other approved study.
  • Upon completing your course, your education provider has informed the Home Office.

Ask your education provider if the Home Office has received your course completion notification.

2. Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa

Red Telephone Booth in Front of Big Ben

For up to two (2) years, young people can experience life in the United Kingdom under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS). In participating countries, young British nationals will also have access to similar opportunities.

YMS is for young applicants who want to experience life in the UK.

Candidates should be aged 18-30 and nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, San Marino, or Taiwan. In addition, they should be able to meet the financial requirements for living in the UK.

If you meet the following criteria, you may be eligible for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa:

  • Interested in living and working in the UK for up to two years
  • Between the ages of 18 and 30
  • Having a savings account of £2,530
  • Having certain types of British nationality or coming from certain countries or territories
  • Comply with all other eligibility requirements

3. UK Ancestry visa

The UK Ancestry visa is issued to Commonwealth citizens who are related to a grandparent who was born in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or Ireland (before 1922).

Many young Australians, Americans, New Zealanders, and South Africans of British descent use it to work and explore Europe in the UK.

The following people can apply for a UK Ancestry visa:

Additionally, you must:

  • Submit proof that one of your grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man
  • Comply with all other eligibility requirements

Applicants can apply for a UK Ancestry visa three months before their travel date. In most cases, a decision on your visa will be made within three weeks when you apply from outside the UK.

It costs £531 to obtain a UK Ancestry visa, and with this, you can stay in the UK for five years.

4. Family Visa

Visas for UK family members are issued to those who wish to establish a permanent family life with their UK-resident relatives.

A UK family visa can be obtained in a few ways:

  • A UK resident’s spouse or partner
  • Having a child who lives in the UK
  • As a British citizen’s child
  • In need of long-term care from a relative who is a UK resident who is sick, disabled, or elderly
  • Based on a private life
  • Having been widowed by a former UK resident
  • As a separated partner or spouse

What are the UK Family visa types?

Father Teaching His Son How to Ride a Bike

You may qualify for one of the UK family visa categories depending on your circumstances and relationship with the sponsor.

Spouse visa

Those who wish to join their spouse who is a British citizen, is settled, a refugee, or is under humanitarian protection may apply for the UK Spouse Visa. If you are in a relationship with your partner, you must be married or in a durable relationship.

Parent visa

UK Parent Visas are issued to parents of British citizens or settled individuals who have lived in the UK for at least seven consecutive years. Applicants for the UK family visa must have a child younger than 18 when they apply for the visa for the first time.

Child visa

A UK Child Visa is issued to the children of a settled person living in the country. You must be the dependant child of a parent applying with you for a UK visa or extension.

Family visa for an adult who needs long-term care by a relative

Adults needing long-term care from British citizens, settled individuals, refugees, or humanitarian protection in the UK receive visas.

Adults who need this type of care must be 18 or older, have a disability or medical condition, or be elderly.

Family visa based on your private life

You can get a Family visa for permanent residence in the UK if you have bad personal circumstances or have been there too long.

Settle in the UK if your partner dies

This visa is for dependents of deceased British citizens or settled UK residents who desire to stay permanently. Applicants need a spouse or child visa for the deceased sponsor’s relationship.

Visa as a separated or divorced dependent partner

If your relationship has broken down because of domestic violence from your partner, a separated or divorced dependent partner visa can be used to remain permanently in Canada.

To apply for settlement, you must have had your last visa as a spouse or partner of the sponsor mentioned above and received public funds.

5. High potential individual visa

Graduates of top global universities who wish to work in the UK can apply for the High Potential Individual Visa. High Potential Individuals will be able to apply from May 30, 2022.

There is no direct route to settlement in the UK for High Potential Individuals. You may, however, be able to apply for a change of immigration route from within the UK before your leave expires. The applicant can be accompanied or joined by a partner and dependent children.

6. Global Talent Visa

In order to attract exceptional talent into the country, the UK has developed the Global Visa program. The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa has been replaced by it as of February 20, 2020.

As a “leader or potential leader” in academia, research, arts, or digital technology, you can work in the UK for five years without a sponsor or job offer with a Global Talent Visa.

There is also no need to notify immigration authorities when changing jobs or renewing your visa.

7. Elite Sportspeople – Sportsperson Visa

Under the UK Points-Based System, the UK Sportsperson Visa is a work visa. The visa is for foreign sportspersons who wish to move to the UK and are sponsored by a British individual.

If you meet all of the following requirements, you can apply for a UK Sportsperson visa if:

  • Neither you nor your family are citizens of the EEA or Switzerland.
  • You are an elite athlete or a qualified coach.
  • You have been recognized internationally as a professional at the highest level by your sport’s governing body.
  • The governing body of your sport has endorsed your application.
  • You can develop your sport at the highest level in the UK through your employment.
  • In addition, you meet all the other eligibility requirements.

Moving from the US to the UK

Moving from the US to the UK might be quite overwhelming at first glance, especially if you don’t know what to do. 

In general, you have to apply for work receive a job offer, and then get a working visa. However, if you don’t receive a job offer but still want to push through your relocation, you can choose from the different visa routes we summarized above. 

Each route has different requirements and application steps, so visit the UK Government website. They have a comprehensive and easy-to-understand guide for each visa route. 

Moving to London without a job

London is the largest city in the UK, and moving here without a job is just the same as the concept of moving to the United Kingdom. You also have to qualify for the visa routes requiring no job offer. 

When thinking of moving to London from the US, read our guide.

Getting a job in the UK as an American

Young lady typing on keyboard of laptop in living room

Getting a job in a new country is daunting, but as a US citizen, you have several unfair advantages while looking for a job in the UK. The most important one is that you share the same language with Brits. Besides that, the work culture isn’t drastically different.

If you want to know where you can find a job in the UK as an American, skills shortage occupations are published and regularly updated on the UK government’s website. Thus, it would be best if you could start your search from there.

After you have found the job, you can apply for a temporary worker Tier 5 or Tier 2 skilled worker visa. For the latter, you need a graduate-level job with a minimum average salary of £27,000 a year, depending on the occupation type.

In terms of salaries, you can expect to earn at least £50,000 before tax while working in London if you are an experienced executive. A good salary, allowing a decent lifestyle, starts at £45,000 gross.

That said, the average wage in the UK is £588 weekly as of September 2022, which comes to just above 2,000 monthly.

Some of the jobs included in the shortage list in 2022:
Occupation codeJob types included on the shortage occupations listAnnual salary (80% of the going rate)Annual salary (80% of going rate)
1181Health services and public health managers and directors – all jobsEngland, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland80% of going rate: £30,720 (£15.15 per hour)
1242Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors – all jobsEngland, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland80% of going rate: £21,360 (£10.53 per hour)
2111Chemical scientists – only jobs in the nuclear industryScotland only80% of going rate: £21,360(£10.53 per hour)
2112Biological scientists and biochemists – all jobsEngland, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland80% of going rate: £23,760(£11.72 per hour)
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