UK Business Visit Visa
If you are coming to the UK for a few business meetings, a Business Visit Visa is likely to be the best option. This guide looks at
The work you can, and can't, do as a Business Visitor
How to qualify and apply for the visa
The number of trips and duration of the visa
If you want to know whether this is right visa for you, or you want help applying, Call us.
How much ‘work’ can I do as a Business Visitor?
Compared with Global Mobility Visas, or Skilled Worker Sponsorship, a business visit visa is inexpensive and relatively flexible. There can be a temptation to use a business visit visa as a proxy short term work visa. But, at what point does a business visitor’s work ‘cross the line’ and become illegal?
If you work for an overseas employer, in a job based overseas, occasional duties that have to be performed in the UK can often be done on a business visit visa, provided no work is carried out directly with clients, and you are not paid from the UK. You may advise, consult, troubleshoot, provide training, share skills and knowledge with UK employees of the same corporate group. BUT, when the activity in the UK begins to look like work for a Client business, especially if it is work (billed on a fixed fee basis, or billed as time & materials, or not billed at all) carried out for a consultancy serving a UK client, a business visit visa is unlikely to be sufficient
The things that you can do as a business visitor, include
(but are not limited to)
General Business activities:
Attending meetings, interviews, conferences, and seminars.
Attending Trade fairs for general promotional work (not actively selling).
Negotiating and signing deals and contracts
Carrying out site visits and inspections
Gathering information for an employer overseas
Being briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer (as long as you don’t actually do any work for the customer while you are in the UK)
Being a Prospective Entrepreneur:
You can use a Business Visit visa to come to the UK for negotiations/discussions to secure funding to join, set up or take over a business in the UK. Providing that you can show support from a FCA regulated Venture Capital (or Private Equity, or similar) firm, OR an approved seed funding competition OR a UK government department
Academic & Creative
Attending a Festival or cultural event
Performing at a Festival or cultural event on the list of Permit Free Festivals which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/-immigration-rules-appendix-visitor-permit-free-festival-list
Getting a place on the Permit Free Festivals list allows organisers to invite (and to pay a fair professional fee to) artists, entertainers and musicians to perform at their festival, without the time consuming and expensive ‘default’ option of having to get a sponsor licence and issue certificates of sponsorship to each overseas artist involved. It also saves the artists a lot of money in government visa application fees.
[if you are a festival organiser, and want your festival added to that list, contact us if you have been established for at least 3 years, have an audience of 15,000+, and expect 15+ performers who are not British or Irish]
If an artist has been invited to appear at one of the Permit Free Festivals, , then they can also bring as Business Visitors their Personal and or technical staff, and members of their production teams who are supporting the artist/performance , and are employed to work for them outside of the UK.
If unpaid, an artist, entertainer or musician may give performances, take part in competitions or auditions, and make personal appearances.
Film crew (Producers, Directors, Technicians, and Actors), employed by an overseas production company, may work the UK as Business Visitors where they are taking part in a location shoot for a film or programme that is produced and financed overseas
Academics and others giving a one-off or short series of talks and speeches (as long as they are not organised as commercial events, and, they will not make a profit for the organiser)
As a Visitor (whether Business Visitor, or tourist visitor), during your visit you may undertake incidental study up to a maximum of 30 days
An athlete may come to the UK as a Visitor to take part in a sports tournament/event (an individual or part of a team), may make personal appearances and take part in promotional activities, and may take part in trials, as long as they are not in front of a paying audience;
An Athlete may come to the UK as a Visitor to take part in short periods of training, provided they are not being paid by a UK sporting body.
An Athlete may come to the UK as a Visitor to join an amateur team, or club, to gain experience in their sport.
Where an Athlete has staff that are employed to work for them outside the UK, when that athlete comes to a UK event as a Business Visitor, their personal and/or technical staff needed to support the activities mentioned above may also enter the UK as Business Visitors.
Business Visit Visa Duration & number of trips
A Business Visit visa can be granted with a validity of several years, but each trip to the UK must be for no more than 6 months. Although some Business Visit visas are endorsed to limit their use to a single entry, or dual-entry, in most cases you may enter and leave the UK multiple times: as many times as you want within the life of the visa.
Other Types of Visit
Tourism: You may visit friends and family and/or come to the UK for a holiday.
Private medical treatment Visit Visa
Marriage Visitor Visa (Previously Fiancée / Fiancé visa) If you plan to get married or enter into a civil partnership in the UK
If you intend to undertake a Permitted Paid Engagement then you should apply for a Permitted Paid Engagement Visit Visa
Applying for a UK Business Visit visa
If you are a non-visa national (someone who can visit the UK without needing to obtain a visa in advance) you can just come to the UK to carry out Business Visit activities. But you should travel with evidence of your plans so that, if questioned on entry, you can satisfy the officer concerned. Satisfying them is easy if you can show the things which are required when people apply for a visa (see on)
To apply for a Business Visit visa, you will need to show 4 main things
Your genuine intention is to do things that are permitted by the Business Visitor rules, and will not undertake any prohibited activities;
You have enough money so that you can cover the costs of your visit ( including the cost of your return or onward journey, any costs relating to dependants, and the cost of planned activities) without becoming a burden on public funds, and without getting paid for working (other than when the paid work, such as working at one of the Permit Free Festivals, is allowed by your visit visa)
You will leave the UK before your visa expires
You will not make the UK your main home, or live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits.
Business Visit Visa Costs of representation
After the initial consultation, we aim to agree a fixed fee wherever practical.
Costs for Business Vist Visa applications are very much dependent on the complexity of the individual circumstances. The work can involve defining with an employer exactly what will be done in the UK (which may involve a degree of negotiation if the initially desired activities include things, like client work, which are usually not allowed). As always, we encourage clients to start by explaining their ideal outcome, and, from that, we can look at the trade offs. Sometimes we can make a business visit visa work, by tailoring the UK duties. Sometimes, a work visa (Skiled Worker, Global Mobility visa, etc) may be more appropriate so that the work can be unconstrained.
If you have a requirement, call us.