This post highlights the details of UK Business Visitor Visa Requirements in the context of permitted business and work-related activities that an individual can undertake or perform while visiting the UK on a business visitor visa.
The post covers the details of Main Purpose of Visiting the UK as a Business Visitor, Generally Permitted Activities on UK Business Visitor Visa, Permitted Intra-corporate and Prospective Entrepreneurs Activities, Permitted Activities Relating to Manufacturing and Supply of Goods, Clients of UK Export Companies, Science, Research and Academia, Permitted Legal, Religious, Creative and Sports Activities.
Moreover, the post covers Permitted Overseas Roles Requiring Specific Activities in the UK, Work-related Training, Professional Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) Test and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) Activities on UK Business Visitor Visa.
UK Business Visitor Visa Requirements: Permitted Activities
In the application form, an applicant needs to explain the main reason for visiting the UK, which will be scrutinised during the assessment propose whether it falls under the permitted business and work-related activity or not. Moreover, at the entry clearance on the airport/border, an applicant could be asked about the purpose of his/her visit with varying degree of details. For instance, some applicants may only be asked cursorily about the purpose of their visit and activities in the UK; whereas, others might be asked an extended set of questions depending on their circumstances and bonafide.
Incidental Business or Work-Related Activities
Business activities are usually circumstance must be linked to an applicant’s employment/work/business in his/her home country. Therefore, the business-related activities in the UK for visitors should be only incidental to his or her employment, work, and business.
Visitors Can Keep Contact with their Overseas Office
There are no restrictions on the visitors to keep in contact with their office, employer or business during their stay in the UK. Some activities also allow a visitor to undertake their overseas role from the UK, for instance, on an international route a driver can deliver goods or passengers to the UK.
Period of Leave
In all cases/circumstances, the duration of activities should not be more than 6 months and possibly prearranged. In case there are no prearrangements then during the assessment process following will be checked:
- who will be covering the applicant’s role during their visit to the UK;
- whether the activities amount to work in the UK that should be conducted under the Points Based System (PBS) routes;
The credibility of the Period of Leave
The period of leave requested in the application should be credible and congruent to the activities that a visitor is seeking to do in the UK. Moreover, the applicant is liable to satisfy in the application that he/she is not coming to the UK either for undertaking work or making the UK his/her main place of work. For instance, a letter of employment, along with other requisite documents, could be attached to this end.
Visitors Can Attend Conferences and Seminars
Visitors are allowed to attend seminars or conferences, which are focused events led by a formal speaker and mostly last for a few or a couple of days. These may include familiarisation programmes for visitors coming to the UK to learn about the UK’s best practices in law, finance, medicine, science, technology, trade, etc. However, such activities do not include either work experience or long-term study.
There are no restrictions on the length/duration of a conference, but usually, such an activity should not be longer than a fortnight. In case a conference is longer than a couple of weeks then the applicant must satisfy in his/her visitor visa applicant that the activity does not amount to a course of study.
These activities should be for a short time period and linked to an identifiable project. The activities must not involve the visitors to directly working with either the project or for the company’s clients.
The applicant must satisfy in the visitor visa application that he/she is not coming to take up a paid a role in the company, such as an ‘intra-company transferee’ that is required to be done under Tier 2 ICT visa. If there are doubts about the intentions of the applicants, then the application is more likely to be refused.
Visiting Company’s Offices or Client Sites
Generally, the visitor is expected to be mainly engaged in his/her company’s offices in the United Kingdom and not at a customer’s site. However, the visiting employee can conduct meetings at client’s site.
Internal Audits and Inspections
There are no restrictions on the regulatory audits or inspections; however, these need to be internal to a group of companies, inclusive of a company’s branches and its subsidiaries. Usually, this can be easily verified either from the website of businesses that they belong to one group or from the group’s annual report to the shareholders.
The visitor can participate in the meetings and discussions to obtain funding for the business. Once the funding is secured, the visitor is required to apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa before the visitor can undertake work as an entrepreneur in the UK.
Manufacturing and Supply of Goods
These visitors are usually not expected to stay for more than one month in the UK, for carrying out manufacturing and supply of goods related activities, as are employment overseas. In case the applicant intends to stay longer one month then he/she needs to satisfy in the visa application:
- the activities that an applicant wishes to do in the UK;
- the applicant is not filling a role in the UK based company;
Although, activities for a duration of more than one month are not an automatic ground for refusal; however, may lead to questions about the intentions of an applicant.
Clients of UK Export Companies
The should be a contract of service between the two companies i.e. the company in the UK has been contracted to provide goods or services to an overseas company. However, the two companies should not be a part of the same corporate entity/group. For instance, a company working in the UK has contracted to provide defence services to an overseas company, which are not part of the same group.
Employees of the foreign business can work with the UK-based company to oversee and ensure the delivery under the mutual contract.
If the contract is for more than six (6) months then repeat, and frequent visits are a possibility; however, a definite end date for the work is required.
Science, Research and Academia
Researchers, Scientists and members of Academia are applicants are required to satisfy that they would remain paid and employed overseas during their visit to the UK and are visiting the UK only for carrying out activities that are incidental to their job/work abroad. For instance, providing advice on a project, or sharing knowledge on a research topic that they are working on in their home country.
In case an applicant intends to do research in the UK then he/she may consider applying under the Tiers 2 or 5 routes of the Points Based System (PBS).
Eminent senior doctors or dentists should be working for many years in their chosen profession. Such experienced and well-known professionals can come to the UK for participating in research, clinical practice, or teaching as long as such an undertaking is incidental to their employment/professional in their home country.
An academic can undertake research for his/her own purposes such as for a book or for employment overseas, but the research work should not be for commercial gain.
Academics applying for a twelve (12) months visit visa, or an extension to complete twelve months as an academic carrying out visitor activities, should be:
- highly qualified within their field of expertise, and
- working in their area of specialisation before entering the UK;
Scholars applying for twelve months visit visa are generally highly skilled such as individuals holding a PhD in their field expertise with several years of experience with a prominent university or educational institute.
Those academics who intend to visit the UK for less than six months are not required to meet the additional requirements of the Paragraph V 4.22 of the Immigration Rules.
Permitted Legal Activities on UK Business Visitor Visa
An applicant summoned to the UK for attending a court hearing needs to provide evidence to confirm the reason necessitating his/her attendance at a hearing.
Permitted Religious Activities on UK Business Visitor Visa
The applicants must not be seeking to take up an appointment, office, or post in the UK.
Religious workers are allowed to undertake pastoral duties that may include one-off engagements such as conducting funeral or wedding ceremonies. However, for these one-off engagements, they are not allowed to receive payments, and they must satisfy in their application that they would continue to remain employed in their home country.
Permitted Creative Activities on UK Business Visitor Visa
An amateur or professional artist can come to the UK to undertake activities that are connected to literature, visual arts, performing arts, culinary arts, etc. Therefore, some creative professions such as writers, poets, film crew, photographers, artists, musicians, designers can visit the UK to undertake a creative activity.
Entertainers can come to the UK to take an activity that is connected to the performing arts, for instance, dancers, comedians, members of circus acts or members of the film crew.
Personal or technical staff attending the same event are permitted to can accompany the artist, musician or entertainer to the UK. However, the personal/technical staff are required to remain employed overseas. Examples of personal/technical staff may include, but may not restrict to:
- press officers;
- stage managers;
- make-up artists;
- personal bodyguards;
Permitted Sports Activities on UK Business Visitor Visa
In case an applicant is employed as a professional sportsperson by a UK based team then the application is likely to be refused as the applicant might consider applying for a work visa under the Tier-2 or 5 of the Points Based System (PBS).
Sportspersons can participate in tournaments or events in the UK. However, if the applicant intends to play in a professional domestic championship or league, including wherein either one or more than one fixtures or rounds takes place outside the UK, this is classified as employment (whether paid or not).
Technical or support staff for sportspersons are required to attend the same event as that of the sportsperson and must remain employed. Examples of technical and support staff may include:
- press officers;
- polo grooms – are allowed only when they are accompanying a polo player and are not intending to base themselves in the United Kingdom for a sporting season and to take up employment in the stables;
Sports officials (for example umpires, referees, lines people) are not required to be employed by sportspersons to work for them overseas. They must be attending the same event as that of the sportsperson and support their activities during the event.
Permitted Overseas Roles Requiring Specific Activities in the UK
It is possible for certain types of person, who have employed abroad, to visit the United Kingdom to carry out their work. For instance, a driver on an international route or an interpreter accompanying another visitor. However, such a visitor should continue to remain employed and paid overseas.
Personal assistants and bodyguards who are assisting an overseas business person on his/her visit to the UK should not be either undertaking the domestic work or providing personal care to the visitor in the UK – if they intend to do so then they must apply under the Overseas Domestic Worker route.
Training should be in work techniques and practices that are unavailable in the home country of a visitor.
Typically, the training should be classroom-based and may involve observation or familiarisation.
Practical training is allowed; however, it should not amount to either ‘training on the job’ or the person filling a role. It is acceptable that a visitor may learn the use of equipment in the UK; however, the following points needs to be clarified:
- how long the visitor intends to undertake practical training;
- the possibility/probability of the visitor to start working for the company in the UK;
In case the training is available in the home country of an applicant then he/she may need to satisfy in his/her visa applicant the need of coming to the UK for undertaking such training.
A visitor is expected to undertake training for less than a month. However, if a visitor intends to stay longer than that he/she needs to clarify:
- who will be covering his/her work overseas- in the home country during the absence period;
- whether the training activities may amount to taking employment in the UK or not;
Permitted PLAB and OSCE Related Activities on UK Visitor Visa
In case an applicant intends to do the PLAB test in the UK then this neither usually includes any study in the UK nor counts towards the permitted duration of the study. The applicant is required to provide confirmation of either the PLAB Test or OSCE from the General Medical Council (GMC) or Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
When an applicant successfully passes the PLAB test and intends to remain in the United Kingdom, then he/she can do so only for an unpaid clinical attachment in agreement with the stipulations of the immigration rules for visitors.
Applicants can enter as visitors to sit at a test or an examination in the UK, for instance, entry test for one of the Royal Colleges.