Can You Work in the UK Without a Work Visa?

UK Work Visa

The UK has a strict immigration policy, and if you are subject to UK immigration control, you will require a visa to work in the UK. However, you may not always need a work visa to work legally. There are certain visa types that allow individuals to work freely without restrictions, and some visa types allow you to work for certain hours each week. Let’s take a look at different visa types and whether they will enable you to work in the UK without sponsorship or a work visa.

  1. No restrictions on work

If you hold the following visa, you can work or set up a business freely in the UK without restrictions for any duration:

  • Indefinite leave to remain

If you hold one of the following visas, you can work or set up business in the UK freely while your visa is valid:

  • Global talent visa (valid for 5 years)
  • Graduate visa (valid for 2 years, and 3 years for PhD degree holders)
  • Youth mobility scheme visa (valid for 2 years)
  • High potential individual (HPI) visa (valid for 2 years, and 3 years for PhD degree holders)
  • UK ancestry visa
  • British national overseas visa
  • Family visa (different from student or skilled worker dependent visa)

Note: you cannot work as a sportsperson while holding some types of visas. Please check your eligibility if you are considering working as a sportsperson.

If you hold one of the visas above and your visa expires, you can no longer work in the UK. You must extend your visa or switch to another visa that allows you to continue your work. Visas like Graduate Visa and Youth Mobility Visa do not allow you to extend your visa beyond the validity. Therefore,  if you want to continue to work in the UK, you need to consider other types of visas, such as the Skilled Worker Visa. UK Visa Jobs is a platform for people who are looking to find visa sponsored jobs and you can easily filter the job that you are looking for.

  1. Restrictions on work

If you hold one of the following visas, you can only work for your employer who sponsored you.

  • Skilled worker visa
  • Health and care worker visa
  • International sportsperson visa
  • Minister of religion visa

While you hold the above visas, you cannot work freely. You must only work for the employer who sponsored your visa and should not take additional employment. If you want to change your employer, you must apply for a new visa which will be sponsored by your new employer. You can do voluntary work outside your contracted working hours if you want to. The skilled worker visa is the most common visa type for non-UK nationals who come to the UK to work. If the skilled worker visa is the route you would like to choose, you can start applying for visa sponsored jobs on UK Visa Jobs.

  1. Student Visa

If you are on a student visa, you can do up to 20 hours of part-time work during your term time. How many hours you can work during your term time is stated on your BRP card. You must not exceed this limit. You can work full-time outside your term time as long as your visa is valid. The term timetable can be found on your CAS letter or obtained from your university. It is important to remember that some courses or student visas do not allow you to undertake any type of employment. Therefore, you should always check your BRP card. If you want to take up long-term employment, it is essential to find a visa sponsoring employer and switch to a skilled worker visa or other types of visas that allow you to work for a longer term.

  1. Dependent Visa

If you are a dependent visa holder associated with a student, skilled worker or other types of visa holders, excluding indefinite leave to remain, you can work freely in the UK, without sponsorship, as long as your visa is valid.

However, due to the limited validity of such visas, some employers do not consider dependent visa holders for long-term employment. Therefore, finding visa sponsored employer and switching from a dependent visa to a skilled worker or other types of visas can be a good option.

When you apply for jobs that sponsor a skilled worker visa or health and care visa, UK Visa Jobs is a good starting point. All jobs listed, covering many different sectors, are eligible to sponsor work visas, and we verify with individual employers to ensure that they hire foreign nationals who wish to pursue a career in the UK. 

If you want to find out more about different visa routes, please visit