Business Visitor Visa

The business visitor visa is for individuals who wish to enter the UK in order to undertake permitted short-term business-related activities.

As the business visit visa route falls within the standard visitor visa category, business visitors will only be permitted to travel to the UK for short periods e.g. a maximum period of 6 months.

Do you need a visa prior to entering the UK as a business visitor?

If you’re a visa national, i.e. from the list of countries that require a visa to enter the UK, you will be required to apply for a visit visa prior to entering the UK.

Non-visa nationals, e.g. EEA nationals, can enter the UK for a short visit without a prior visa, but similar to visa nationals, non-visa nationals must still satisfy the requirements for entry as a standard visitor; and will only be able to undertake permitted business-related activities.

Visitors to the UK are generally prohibited from carrying out “work activity” and also from receiving payment from any UK source in the UK, unless the planned activities fall within the specific permissions contained within Appendix Visitor of the Immigration Rules – Permitted Activities.

What are permitted activities?

Business visitors can undertake the following permitted activities:

1. General business activities

  • Attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews
  • Give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not organised as commercial events and will not make a profit for the organiser
  • Negotiate and sign deals and contracts
  • Attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the Visitor is not directly selling
  • Carry out site visits and inspections
  • Gather information about their employment overseas
  • Be briefed on the requirements of a UK-based customer provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK

2. Corporate or intra-corporate activities

Employees of companies with linked entities in the UK can enter the UK as business visitors to undertake the following permitted activities.

  • Advise, consult, trouble-shoot or provide training within the same corporate group
  • Share skills and knowledge on a specific internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group, provided no work is carried out directly with clients
  • An internal auditor may carry out regulatory or financial audits at a UK branch of the same group of companies
  • Receive training from a UK-based company or organisation in work practices and techniques which are required for the visitor’s overseas employment and not available in their home country.

The intra-corporate activities should, however, be of short duration, linked to a specific project and not involve the visitor directly working for the UK company or for their clients in the UK.

3. Manufacture and supply of goods

Employees of overseas companies are permitted to enter the UK as business visitors to install, dismantle, repair, service, advise or train UK-based workers where there is a contract of purchase, supply or lease with a UK company.

A contract of service between the UK company and the overseas company will need to be provided to establish the manufacture and supply of the equipment of the overseas company, or the arrangement for the after-sale service agreement.

4. Clients of UK export companies

Clients of UK export companies are permitted to enter the UK as business visitors if they are seconded to a UK company in order to oversee the requirements for goods and services that are being provided under a contract between the UK company and the overseas company – provided that the two companies are not part of the same group. Similar to the manufacture and supply section above, a contract of service between the UK company and the overseas company must be provided to establish the exportation of goods and the secondment.

5. Overseas roles requiring specific activities in the UK

Visitors such as translators, interpreters, bodyguards, journalists, professors and researchers who are employed overseas and will continue to be employed overseas will be permitted to visit the UK to carry out their work.

6. Work-related training

A visitor will be permitted to visit the UK for work-related training as long the training in question is not available in the visitor’s home country.

Furthermore, a business visitor may deliver a short series of training to employees of a UK-based company if the trainer is employed by an overseas business contracted to deliver global training to the international corporate group to which the UK-based company belongs.

Prohibited activities under the Business visitor route

A visitor to the UK must not intend to work in the UK, which includes:

  • Taking employment in the UK
  • Undertake work for an organisation or business in the UK
  • Establish or run a business as a self-employed person
  • Do a work placement or internship
  • Directly sell to the public
  • Provide goods and services

As a visitor, you must not undertake employment or work that will amount to you filling a role or providing short-term cover for a role within a UK-based organisation.

In addition, where you are already employed outside of the UK, you must not be paid by a UK source and must continue to be paid and be employed by the overseas company. Payment may only be allowed in specific circumstances, for example, billing a UK client for your time in the UK in circumstances where your overseas employer is contracted to provide services to a UK company, or to cover reasonable expenses to cover the cost of travel and subsistence, including fees for directors attending board-level meetings etc.

Is there a financial and accommodation requirement for Business Visitor visas?

You will need to have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to your visit e.g. travel, accommodation and all reasonable expenses, without being paid in the UK or accessing public funds.

However, the costs of your visit together with all reasonable expenses may be paid by an inviting third party if they have a genuine professional or personal relationship with you, and they confirm that they will support you throughout the duration of your stay as a Visitor.

Length of Business Visitor periods

For visa nationals who wish to enter the UK for the purpose of a business visit, you may apply for a visit visa that is valid for either 6 months, 2 years, 5 years or 10 years.  Business visitors may enter and leave the UK multiple times during the validity period of the visit visa as long as each visit to the UK does not exceed 6 months.

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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 11/02/2019