Business Visitor Visa UK Requirements and Guidance 2021
In the light of Appendix V, this relates to the UK business visitor visa requirements 2021, supporting documents, FAQs, guidance notes, specific activities, and processing time. Accordingly, explains: how to successfully apply for business visitor visa application for different permitted commercial and work related activities in the UK?
UK Business Visitor Visa Requirements
If the purpose of applying for a standard visitor visa is to do a permitted business or work related activity in the UK, then it is commonly referred to as a UK business visitor visa. Businesspersons around the globe usually visit the British Isles for attending conferences or meetings, arranging deals, negotiating, or signing trade contracts or agreements. And for checking details of goods, undertaking fact-finding missions, or conducting on-site visits and promotional activities. However, apart from the previously mentioned general business activities, visitors can also undertake other permitted Corporate, Sector Specific and work related activities in the UK.
Apart from specifying a clear purpose of visiting the UK, an applicant needs to prove that they:
- have ample funds to support himself/herself during the trip
- intend to leave the United Kingdom at the end of the visit
- can meet the costs of their return or onward journey
Therefore, to get a UK Business Visitor Visa, an applicant needs to have an Invitation Letter. And needs to clarify the nature of relationship with the UK commercial entity that has invited the applicant. In fact, the business activities in the UK are usually linked to an applicant’s employment, work or business in the home country. Therefore, should be only incidental to their employment, work, and business. And UK should not be an applicant’s main of work.
There are no restrictions on the visitors to stay connected with their office, employer, or business in the home country. Accordingly, there should be adequate pre-arrangements to look after the business/work in the home country during the period of leave. And the period of leave should be credible and congruent to the activities in the UK. Moreover, the applicant needs to clarify that they are not coming for undertaking work. Therefore, for meeting the UK business visitor visa requirement, an applicant also needs to provide evidence of income and family, financial, business, professional and social ties to the home country.
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2. Supporting Documents
UK Business Visitor Visa Supporting Documents Requirements
It is mandatory to provide the travel document such as a valid passport. And translation of documents, which are not in English/Welsh. Moreover, to meet the UK business visitor visa requirements an applicant needs to provide documents relating to family, assets, income, bank balance, social ties etc.
UK Business Visitor Visa Supporting Documents Checklist
Perhaps, a tentative checklist of UK business visitor visa supporting documents may include:
- Valid passport or travel document with at-least 1 blank page on both sides for affixing the visa vignette
- Previous passports, if available
- Translation of documents, which are not in English/Welsh
- If applicable, proof of immigration status in the country of residence. For instance, if an Indian Citizen applying from Dubai, then needs to provide permanent residence card or vignette
- Invitation Letter or any other evidence for specifying the purpose of the visit
- If the sponsor is contributing towards the trip cost, then may include accommodation and maintenance details
- Evidence of Employment or Self Employment
- Personal Bank Statements usually for the preceding six months
- Proof of financial savings
- Evidence of Family Members Remaining in Home Country such as Marriage Certificate, Family Registration form etc.
- Proof of Ties to the Home Country such as ownership of immovable property
3. Guidance Notes
UK Business Visitor Visa Requirements
Usually, in most of the cases, an invitation letter for UK business visitor visa specifies an immediate or recurring purpose of visiting the United Kingdom. However, at times, instead of an invitation letter, applicants use the registration to attend a trade fair or an exhibition. Such registrations may act as a proxy to an invitation letter only if an applicant is able to explain their credentials in the application. However, depending on the personal circumstances of an applicant, such online generic registrations may not fulfil the UK business visitor visa requirements. Accordingly, may not suffix a formal invitation letter for successfully applying for a UK business visitor visa. Therefore, it is advisable to have a specific invitation letter rather than generic online registration. Moreover, since business or work related varies, therefore, it is important to tailor the sponsor documents accordingly.
Salaried Employment Evidence
A full time employed applicant needs to provide an employment letter. Moreover, the letter from employer indicates approval of the leave for the specified period. And the employment letter may preferably include details of employment such as duration, position, salary etc. The letter may also indicate when the person resumes work. And the work arrangements during the period of leave. It is a good practice to supplement an employment letter with Pay Slips, Tax Returns, bank statements.
Self-employed applicants need to include the evidence of
- business activities
- business bank statements
- tax returns
- registration with business chambers and trade bodies
- registration with commercial and industrial departments of the local and national governments etc.
For further details please refer to UK visa supporting documents.
The most common and popular UK business visa is the 6 months standard visitor visa, which costs £95/-. Moreover, the UK visa fees of 2, 5 and 10 years visitor visa application is £361/-, £655/- and £822/-, respectively.
Long Term UK Business Visitor Visa Requirements
A 6 month standard visa for a business purpose usually refers to a short term UK business visitor visa. And a 2, 5 and 10 year visa for frequently visiting the British Isles for a business purpose refers to as long term visitor visa. And a visitor can undertake multiple visits during the validity period. However, can’t stay for longer than 180 days per visit. In fact, the average duration of stay on the UK business visitor visa is not more than 1-3 weeks per visit.
Accordingly, for travelling to the UK regularly for a business purpose, an applicant may consider applying for a long-term multiple entry UK business visitor visa for 2, 5 and 10 years. However, to get a long term UK business visitor visa an applicant needs to provide a credible reason for frequent visits. And needs to establish the stability of circumstances. An applicant’s travel history and duration of visits are also important consideration for granting a long-term UK business visitor visa. Please note like any other visa application, the fee is not refundable if the ECO issues a visa for a shorter duration than the requested or altogether refuse the application.
The Possible Outcomes
If an applicant applies for a 2-year multiple entry business visitor visa for frequently visiting the UK, then the possible outcomes are:
- the applicant gets a 2-year multiple entry visa, as intended
- the applicant may get a short term 6-month UK business visitor visa. This may happen if the ECO is not clear about the need of visiting beyond six months. Nevertheless, the ECO is satisfied with the overall credibility of the applicant
- if the ECO is not fully satisfied with both the purpose of frequently visits and the overall credentials of the applicant then may grant a single entry C-Type UK business visit visa with a validity and duration of stay for less than 180 days or 6-months
- if the intentions of the applicants are doubtful then will simply refuse the visitor visa application.
Please note there is no right of appeal against the UK business visitor visa refusal. However, depending on the nature of the refusal decision, an applicant can reapply or file a judicial review against the UK business visitor visa refusal decisions.
Conditions of Stay in the UK
In terms of paragraph V 4.23 of Appendix V, a business visitor cannot have recourse to public funds in the United Kingdom. Moreover, can only undertake a course of study, usually up to 30 days. However, a business visitor cannot take employment or do work in the UK, which will lead to visit visa cancellation. Indeed, a person on UK C-Type Business visitor visa can undertake permitted activities such a tourism.
In most of the instances, usually, it is not possible to apply for UK visitor visa extension for a business purpose.
UK Business Visitor Visa Requirements
How to Apply for UK Business Visitor Visa Application?
Quite clearly, an applicant can apply online for 6 months, 2, 5 and 10 years UK business visitor visa, including sports and entertainment.
To complete your application, you must make arrangements to provide your biometrics (fingerprints and facial photograph) with our commercial partner, which may involve attending one of their centres.
Is UK Business Visitor Visa C-Type Multiple Entry?
Yes, the UK business visitor visa is a C-Type multiple entry visa, unless it is endorsed as a single or dual entry visa. Therefore, a person on a business visitor visa may enter the UK on multiple occasions during the validity period.
Moreover, the Paragraph 9(i) of Immigration Rules provides an explanation relating to the UK multiple entry visa rules. Accordingly, the time limit and conditions are as per the endorsement of the Immigration Officer on the passport or travel document. In fact, the Immigration Officer, usually, follows Section 4 of Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000. Therefore, UK business visitor visa vignette normally mentions MULT for the Number of Entries and 180 days (not 6-months) for Duration of Stay. However, in terms of Paragraph 9(i), the Immigration Officer can endorse a Single Entry Visa having a Duration of Stay for 180 days or less. For instance 15, 30, 60 or 90 days instead of the normal 180 days.
V 1.6 Within the period for which the visit visa is valid, a visitor may enter and leave the UK multiple times, unless the visit visa is endorsed as a single- or dual-entry visa.
Can a visitor attend a job interview on UK business visitor visa?
Yes, in terms of paragraph 5(a) of Appendix to Appendix V a visitor can attend an interview. Moreover, in terms of paragraph 5(f) of Appendix 3 can also gather information for overseas employment. Accordingly, if a person intends to work under the Tier 2 route, then can visit for a job interview and exploring work opportunities.
Is it possible to sell products or services?
A visitor can attend trade fairs and promote work, but cannot directly sell goods and services. If a person intends to do business in the British Isles, then may apply for the startup or innovator visa.
Is it possible to receive payments?
Yes, in terms with paragraph V 4.7 of Appendix V, a visitor can receive certain types of payments during the visit.
5. Specific Activities
UK Business Visitor Visa Requirements
In the UK visa application form, an applicant needs to explain the main reason for visiting the United Kingdom. In fact, travelling for a permitted business and work-related activity is a critical requirement. Moreover, at the airport/border, an immigration officer can ask about the purpose of visiting with varying degree of details. Sometime the officer may only ask cursorily but on other occasions may conduct a detailed investigation. Therefore, it is advisable to keep a copy of the UK Business Visitor Visa Invitation Letter and related documents for a ready reference.
1. Attending Conferences and Seminars
Quite clearly, an applicant can apply for UK business visitor visa for attending seminars or conferences. These are focus events led by a formal speaker. And mostly last for a few or a couple of days. In fact, conferences and seminars may include familiarisation programmes for learning best practices in the field of interest. Moreover, the field of interest may relate to law, finance, medicine, science, technology, trade, etc. However, such activities do not include work experience or a long-term study programme. Although, there are no restrictions on the length/duration of a conference; however, such these are usually not longer than a fortnight. If a conference is longer than a couple of weeks, then an applicant needs to satisfy that the activity does not amount to a course of study.
2. Intra-Corporate Activities
The intra-corporate activities are usually for a brief period and linked to an identifiable project. However, such activities must not involve directly working for a British company’s clients or a commercial/business project. Accordingly, the applicant needs to satisfy that they are not coming to take paid work. For instance, an ‘intra-company transferee’ needs to apply for a Tier 2 ICT visa. In fact, if there are doubts about the nature of intra-corporate activity then the UK business visitor visa application is likely to refuse.
3. Visiting Company’s Offices or Client Sites
These activities relate to engaging in company’s offices in the United Kingdom. And not at a customer’s site. However, a visiting employee can conduct meetings at a client’s site.
4. Internal Audits and Inspections
In fact, 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. The ECO can easily verify such information from the website or annual report that businesses belong to one group.
5. Prospective Entrepreneurs
A prospective entrepreneur can participate in the meetings and discussions to obtain funding for establishing a business. And after securing the funding, the visitor can switch to innovator visa route under Appendix W. Please note since March 29, 2019, the innovator visa has replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.
6. Manufacturing and Supply of Goods
Perhaps, 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. However, if applicant intends to stay longer one month then he/she needs to satisfy the UK business visitor visa requirements relating to the nature of activities. And that he/she not filling a role in the company. Although, activities longer than one month do not lead to an automatic ground for refusal; however, the ECO may raise questions about the intentions.
7. Clients of UK Export Companies
Perhaps, if an applicant is applying for business visitor visa as a client of UK export company then the supporting documents should include a contract of service between the two companies. Perhaps, under such contracts, the UK company has a duty to provide goods or services to an overseas company. However, the two companies should be separate legal entities and not part of a same corporate group. For instance, a UK company contracted to provide defence services to an Indian company. And both these companies are not part of the same group. Accordingly, the employees of the foreign business can oversee work and ensure the delivery under the mutual contract.
Moreover, if the contract of service is for more than six (6) months then repeat and frequent visits are a possibility. However, this requires a definite end date for the work. And an applicant must satisfy the UK business visa requirement that he/she will continue to remain employed in their home country.
8. Science, Research and Academia
Researchers, Scientists and members of Academia are required to satisfy that they would remain paid and employed overseas during their visit to the UK. And are visiting 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. In case an applicant intends to do research then may consider applying for a Tier 2 or 5 visa. Perhaps, eminent senior doctors or dentists should be working for many years in their chosen profession. And can participate in research, clinical practice, or teaching. However, such activities should be only incidental to their employment/professional. Therefore, an applicant must satisfy the UK business visa requirement that he/she will continue to remain employed in their home country.
Academics applying for a Business Visitor Visa UK
An academic can undertake research for his/her own purposes such as for a book or for employment overseas. However, the research work should not be for commercial gain. Therefore, academics applying for 12 months visa, or an extension, should be highly qualified within their field of expertise. And also in their area of specialisation before entering the UK. Scholars applying for twelve months visit visa are generally highly skilled. Perhaps, applicants may include individuals holding a PhD in their field of expertise. This may include 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 Paragraph V 4.22 of the Immigration Rules.
an academic seeking a 12 month visit visa, they must also meet the additional requirements at V 4.22
9. Legal Activities
If an applicant is summoned for attending a court hearing in the UK then needs to provide evidence to confirm the reason necessitating his/her attendance at a hearing.
10. Religious Activities
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. However, a visitor cannot take an appointment, office, or post in the UK. Therefore, an applicant must satisfy the UK business visa requirement that he/she will continue to remain employed in their home country.
11. Creative Activities
A visiting amateur or professional artist can undertake activities relating to literature, visual arts, performing arts, culinary arts, etc. Therefore, creative professions such as writers, poets, film crew, photographers, artists, musicians, designers can visit to undertake a creative activity. Moreover, entertainers can visit for performing arts as dancers, comedians, members of circus acts or members of the film crew.
In fact, personal or technical staff attending the same event can accompany the artist, musician or entertainer. However, personal/technical staff should remain employed overseas. Examples of personal/technical staff may include choreographers, conductors, press officers, stage managers, make-up artists, personal bodyguards etc.
12. Sports Activities
In case an applicant is employed as a professional sportsperson by a UK based team then the application is likely to be refused. Perhaps, such applicants might consider applying for Tier-2 or 5 work visa. Nevertheless, sportspersons can participate in tournaments or events in the UK. However, participation in a professional domestic championship or league is classified as employment- whether paid or not. And also if one or more than one fixtures or rounds takes place outside the UK.
UK Business Visitor Visa for Technical or Support Staff
Technical or support staff for sportspersons should attend the same event. And must satisfy the UK business visa requirement that he/she will continue to remain employed in the home country. Perhaps, technical and support staff may include physiotherapists, coaches, bodyguards, dieticians, press officers etc. Moreover, polo grooms are only allowed when they are accompanying a polo player. And are not intending to base themselves in the United Kingdom for a sporting season or to take up employment in the stables
UK Business Visitor Visa for Sports Officials
Sports officials are not required to be employed by sports persons to work for them overseas. Perhaps, sports official include umpires, referees, lines people. They must be attending the same event as that of the sportsperson and support their activities during the event.
13. Overseas Roles Requiring Specific Activities in the UK
Perhaps, it is possible for certain types of visitors to carry out work in the UK, if they satisfy the UK business visa requirement that they will continue to remain employed in their home country. 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. Moreover, personal assistants and bodyguards who assist an overseas business person should not to any domestic work or provide personal care to the visitor. Perhaps, if they intend to do so then needs to apply for Overseas Domestic Worker visa.
14. Work-related Training
An visitor can participate in training relating to work techniques and practices that are not available in the home country. Perhaps, typically the training should be classroom-based and may involve observation or familiarisation. Moreover, a visitor can also participate in practical training. However, visitor can not participate in on job training (OJT) or a training meant to fill a job role. Nevertheless, a training may include learning the use of equipment. Accordingly, an applicant needs to clarify the duration of the practical training. And the possibility/probability of the visitor to start working for the company. Moreover, if the training is available in the home country then an applicant must explain the need for training.
Perhaps, usually, a visitor can participate in a training for less than a month. However, if a visitor intends to stay longer than that he/she needs to clarify the work arrangements in the home country. And the training does not amount to taking employment in the UK.
15. PLAB and OSCE
In case an applicant intends to do the PLAB test in the United Kingdom then this does not include study in the UK. And must not count towards the permitted duration of the study. The applicant needs to provide confirmation of the PLAB Test or OSCE from GMC or NMC. In fact, after successfully passing the PLAB test an applicant can only do an unpaid clinical attachment.
If you graduated from a medical school outside of the UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you’ll probably need to take the PLAB test.
6. Processing Time
UK Business Visitor Visa Processing Time Requirements 2020
The UK business visitor visa is a non-settlement visa. Therefore, the UKVI service standard is to process 90%, 98% and 100% of the UK business visitor visa applications within 3 weeks (15 working days), 6 weeks (30 working days) and 12 weeks (60 working days), respectively. Please note, the settlement visa processing time is usually 12 weeks or 60 working days. Moreover, the UK business visitor visa processing time for priority customers is usually 5 working days. However, it may vary from country to country.
The Average UK Business Visitor Visa Processing Time
The details for UK Business Visitor Visa Processing Time from different UKVACs, during the month of January 2018, indicates that at an average approx. 50% of the applications processed within 5 working days. This indicates that quite a few business visitors are using the priority service. Moreover, 90-100% of applications conclude within 10-15 working days. And only a very few applications take more than 15 working days for disposal. Therefore, in most of the instances, applicants are not experiencing delays in processing.
The time starts when you attend your appointment at the visa application centre and submit your biometrics (if applicable). The processing time will end when your passport is ready for collection.
In Jan 2020, 27%, 39% and 100% of the applications from Dhaka, Bangladesh, determined within 3, 5 and 10 working days, respectively.
During Jan 2020, 9% and 27% of UK business visa applications from Cairo, Egypt, decided within 3 and 5 working days, respectively. However, 67%, 99% and 100% of the applications determined within 10, 15 and 30 working days, respectively.
In Jan 2020, 39%, 40%, 97% and 100% of the applications from Mumbai, India, decided within 3, 5, 10 and 30 working days, respectively. And 27%, 65%, 99% and 100% of the applications from Chennai, India, determined within 3, 5, 10 and 15 working days, respectively.
Apparently, in Jan 2020, only 22% and 27% of the applications from Dublin, Ireland, determined within 5 and 10 working days, respectively. And 67% and 100% of the applications processed within 15 and 30 working days, respectively. In comparison to other countries, the UK business visitor visa processing time from Ireland are on a slower side.
In Jan 2020, the UK business visitor visa processing time from Beirut, Lebanon, indicates that only 7% and 39% of the applications decided within 3 and 5 working days, respectively. And 84%, 97% and 98% of applications concluded within 10, 15 and 30 working days, respectively. However, 1% of the applications remained outstanding even after 60 working days or 12 weeks.
In Jan 2020, only 7%, 32% and 43% of the applications from Lagos, Nigeria, concluded within 3, 5 and 10 working days, respectively. However, 91% and 100% of the applications from Lagos concluded within 2 and 3 weeks, respectively.
The details of UK business visitor visa processing time from Karachi, Pakistan, during Jan 2020 indicates that 19% and 79% of the applications decided within 3 and 5 working days. However, 97% and 100% of the applications processed within 2 and 3 weeks, respectively.
During Jan 2020, only 9% and 47% of the applications from Doha, Qatar, decided within 3 and 5 working days, respectively. However, 61% and 95% of the applications concluded within 2 and 3 weeks, respectively. And all the 100% of applications concluded within 6 weeks or 30 working days.
9. South Africa
In Jan 2020, 31%, 42% and 49% from Cape Town, South Africa, decided within 2, 3 and 5 working days, respectively. However, 96%, 99% 100% of the applications concluded within and 30 working days respectively.
10. Sri Lanka
In Jan 2020, the UK business visitor visa processing time after biometric from Colombo, Sri Lanka, is quite quick. Accordingly, 24% and 72% of the applications concluded within 3 and 5 working days, respectively. And 100% of the applications decided within 2 week or ten working days.
The UK business visitor visa processing time after biometrics from Bangkok, Thailand, is very quick. In Jan 2020, 56% and 93% of the applicants get a decision within 3 and 5 working days, respectively. Moreover, all 100% of applications concluded within 2 weeks or ten working days. More than 90% of the applicants from Thailand used priority service for fast tracking UK business visitor visa application processing
During Jan 2020, 7%, 23%, 57% and 100% of the applications from Istanbul, Turkey, decided within 3, 5, 10 and 15 working days, respectively.
In Jan 2020, the UK business visitor visa processing time from Dubai, UAE, indicates that 63%, 81% and 93% of the applications decided within 2, 3 and 5 working days, respectively. Moreover, 98% and 100% of the applications decided within 15 and 30 working days, respectively. More than 90% of the applicants from Dubai used priority service to fast track the UK business visitor visa processing time.
The details of UK business visitor visa processing time from New York, USA, indicates that in Jan 2020, 37%, 76% and 99% of the applications decided within 3, 5 and 10 working days, respectively. However, all 100% of the applications processed within 6 weeks or thirty working day.
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