If you are planning a business trip to the UK for anything up to 6 months, the Business Visit Visa may be ideal for your needs. The Business Visit Visa, part of the Standard Visitor Visa scheme, is for those who wish to travel to the UK to carry out a permitted short-term unpaid business activity. If you think you may spend longer than 6 months in the UK on business or you may ultimately wish to settle here, it is advisable to look at alternative visa options such as the long-term Skilled Worker visa. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about the UK Business Visit Visa, including the permitted business activities, eligibility requirements, period of validity, and how to apply.
UK Business Visit Visa requirements
Before applying for a Business Visit Visa, it is important to check whether you need a visa to visit the UK. Depending on your nationality, you may already be able to visit the UK for up to 6 months without needing a visa. If you need a Business Visitor Visa, you must be able to demonstrate that you:
- are genuinely coming to the UK for a permitted purpose
- will leave at the end of your visit
- will not undertake any prohibited activities;
- have sufficient funds to cover your stay
- you have the means to pay for your return or onward journey
- you will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK your main home, and
- do not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal (e.g. on the grounds of serious criminality or past immigration breaches)
What are the UK Business Visit Visa “permitted activities”?
UK Business Visit Visa holders are able to carry out any “permitted activity” while in the UK, as defined in the Immigration Rules Appendix Visitor: Permitted Activities. These permitted activities are broken down into several categories, as summarised below:
General permitted business activities
UK Business Visit Visa holder can carry out any of the following general permitted 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; and
- 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 for their employment overseas, and
- be briefed on the requirements of a UK-based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK.
It is important to bear in mind that when assessing your application, the Home Office will check that the amount of time you have requested matches the stated purpose of coming to the UK for business.
Intra-corporate permitted activities
UK Business Visit Visa holders who work for an overseas-based company can carry out any of the following permitted activities in relation to an internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group:
- advise and consult
- provide training, and
- share skills and knowledge
The Home Office will want to be assured that you will not carry out any work directly with clients during your time in the UK on a Business Visitor Visa. The rules also allow internal auditors to perform regulatory or financial audits at UK branches of the same group of companies as their overseas employer, e.g. inspecting the quality of production at a manufacturing plant.
Manufacturing and supply of goodsUK Business Visit Visa holders can carry out certain business activities on behalf of overseas companies with a contract with a UK company or organisation. The immigration rules state that employees of overseas companies can use this type of visa to install, dismantle, repair, service or advise on machinery, equipment, computer software or hardware. It is also possible to provide training to UK-based workers to provide these services.
There must be a valid and eligible contract of purchase, supply or lease with a UK company or organisation. In addition, the overseas company must be the manufacturer or supplier or part of a contractual arrangement for after-sales services. This must have been agreed at the time of the sale or lease, including in a warranty or other service contract incidental to the sale or lease.
Clients of UK export companies
The UK Business Visit Visa enables clients of a UK export company to be seconded to the UK company to oversee the requirements for goods and services being provided under contract by the UK company or its subsidiary company. The two companies must not be part of the same corporate group.
To make a successful Business Visitor Visa application, a contract showing the supply of goods or services by the UK company to the overseas company must be provided.
Overseas roles requiring specific activities in the UK
The UK Business Visit Visa enables individuals employed outside the UK to visit the UK to take part in the following activities for their overseas employer:
- translate and/or interpret in the UK as an employee of an enterprise located overseas
- personal assistants and bodyguards supporting an overseas business person in carrying out permitted activities
- tour group couriers contracted to a company with its headquarters outside the UK, entering and departing the UK with a tour group organised by their company
- journalists, correspondents, producers or cameramen gathering information for an overseas publication, programme or film
- archaeologists taking part in a one-off archaeological excavation; or
- professors from an overseas academic institution accompanying students to the UK as part of a study abroad programme, providing a small amount of teaching to the students at the host organisation, and
- market researchers and analysts may conduct market research or analysis for an enterprise located outside the UK.
In addition, drivers on a genuine international route between the UK and a country outside the UK can use a Business Visitor visa to deliver or collect goods or passengers from a country outside the UK to the UK and undertake cabotage operations. In this scenario, drivers must be employed or contracted to an operator registered in a country outside the UK or be a self-employed operator and driver based outside the UK. The operator must hold an International Operators Licence or be operating on an own account basis.
Permitted activities on a Standard Visitor visa
The immigration rules allow for certain activities to be undertaken on a Standard Visitor visa without the need for a Business Visitor visa. This applies to those who are employed overseas in any of the following job types:
- artist, entertainer or musician
- camera operator
- internal auditor
- journalist or correspondent
- lawyer or expert witness
- market researcher or analyst
- personal assistant
- professor from an overseas academic institution
- religious worker
- scientist or researcher
- sports person or sports official
- tour group courier
- translator or interpreter
- member of a film crew, including actors, producers, directors or technicians
- member of the production team supporting an artist, entertainer or musician
- member of technical staff supporting an artist, entertainer, musician or sportsperson
Applying for a Business Visitor Visa
Business Visitor Visa applications can be completed online on the UK Home Office website. Applicants have the option of applying for a visa duration of 6 months, 2 years, 5 years or 10 years. The long-term Business Visitor Visas are intended for those who come to the UK regularly on business for up to 6 months at a time. To apply, you will need to:
- Complete and submit the online application form
- Pay the application fee (6 months: £100, 2 years: £376, 5 years: £670, 10 years: £837)
- Book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre
- Provide your identity documents and any documents required to support your application.
In most cases, Business Visitor Visa applications take around 3 weeks to process.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or contact us today. We’re here to help!