Business Visitor Visa UK

This relates to UK C Visit Business Visa and provides the details of UK Business Visitor Visa Requirements for applications from outside the UK. In the light of Appendix V of the Immigration Rules, the post provides information relating to visiting the UK for a business purpose and what an applicant needs to prove to get a visa, frequency of visit and benefits of applying long-term business visa, processing times, Home Office Nationality and Immigration Fees, and details of permitted corporate and sector-specific business activities in the UK on a Business Visitor Visa UK.

UK Business Visitor Visa Requirements

Business Visitor Visa UK

In terms of Immigration Rules Appendix V for Visitor, a Standard Visitor Visa is required to apply for visiting the UK for a business purpose.

Immigration Rules Appendix V: Visitor Rules

Introduction
A visitor is a person who is coming to the UK, usually for up to six months, for a temporary purpose, for example as a tourist, to visit friends or family or to carry out a business activity.

Purpose of Visiting the UK

Since the UK is one of the leading economic centres, therefore, business people around the globe not only visit London but also visit other commercial cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds-Bradford, Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff-Newport, Edinburgh for attending conferences or meetings, arranging deals, negotiating or signing trade contracts or agreements, checking details or goods, undertaking fact-finding missions, or conducting on-site visits and promotional activities. 

Business – general activities
5 A visitor may:
(a) attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews;
(b) 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;
(c) negotiate and sign deals and contracts;
(d) attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling;
(e) carry out site visits and inspections;
(f) gather information for their employment overseas;
(g) be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK

Please note: apart from the aforesaid general business activities, there are a host of Corporate and Sector Specific business activities that are permissible under the Immigration Rules.

Prohibited Business Activities

However, as per Paragraph V 4.5 of Appendix V, a business visitor is prohibited to undertake work for a business or organization in the United Kingdom and also either establishing or running a business as an entrepreneur.

Prohibited activities
Work
V 4.5 The applicant must not intend to work in the UK, which includes the following:
(b) doing work for an organisation or business in the UK;
(c) establishing or running a business as a self-employed person;

What an Applicant Needs to Prove?

Apart from specifying a clear purpose of visiting the UK, a business visa applicant needs to prove that he/she:

  • has ample funds to support himself/herself during the trip;
  • intends to leave the United Kingdom at the end of the visit;
  • can meet the costs of his/her return or onward journey;

It is mandatory to provide the following documents, especially the travel document such as a valid passport, to support the application:

  • Valid passport or travel document;
  • Previous passports, if available;
  • One recent photo as per UKVI’s guidelines, this is no longer required at most of the UKVAC;
  • If an applicant is applying from outside the Home Country, for instance, an Indian Citizen applying from Dubai, then proof of applicant’s permission to be in the country where he/she is applying such as a permanent residence card or vignette.

Moreover, in order to establish the purpose of visiting the UK and establishing personal bonafide an applicant, a business visa applicant is required to furnish documents relating to:

  • Purpose of Visiting UK;
  • Evidence of Employment;
  • Evidence of Finances and Bank Statements;
  • Sponsor Documents;
  • Evidence of Family Members Remaining in Home Country;

Please refer our posts on supporting documents for details.

The Frequency of Visits to the UK

In terms of Paragraph V 1.6 of Appendix V, a business visitor may enter the United Kingdom on multiple occasions during the validity period of the visa

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.

UK Multiple Entry Visa 180 Days

In terms Paragraph 9(i) of the Immigration Rules, the time limit and conditions could be as per the endorsement of the Immigration Officer on the passport or travel document.

Immigration Rules Part 1: Leave to Enter or Stay in the UK

9. The time limit and any conditions attached will be made known to the person concerned either:
(i) by written notice given to him or endorsed by the Immigration Officer in his passport or travel document; or
(ii) in any other manner permitted by the Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000.

Since most of the time the Immigration Officer follows UK multiple entry visa rules relating to visitor visa time limit and conditions as per Paragraph 9(ii) by following Section 4 of Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000, therefore, on the visitor visa vignette usually mentions MULT for the Number of Entries and 180 (days) for Duration of Stay. However,  in terms of Paragraph 9(i), the Immigration Officer can endorse Single Entry Visa UK have a Duration of Stay either for 180 days or less- for instance 15, 30, 60, 90 days.

Example

An applicant applies for a 2 year multiple entry visa UK for frequently visiting the UK as a business visitor. During the assessment process Immigration Officer can make any of the following decisions:

  • Grant a UK C Visit Business Visa with a validity of 2-years for Multiple Number of Entries with Duration of Stay of 180 days;
  • Grant a UK C Visit Business Visa with a validity of 6 months for Multiple Number of Entries with Duration of Stay of 180 days- if the ECO is not clear about the need of visiting the UK beyond a foreseeable future i.e. six months;
  • Grant a UK C Visit Business Visa with a validity of 6 months or less Single Entry Visa UK with a Duration of Stay for 180 days or less- if the ECO is not satisfied with the purpose of frequently visiting the UK;
  • Refuse the application.

The Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain) Order 2000

Extent to which Entry Clearance is to be Leave to Enter
4.—(1) A visit visa, during its period of validity, shall have effect as leave to enter the United Kingdom on an unlimited number of occasions, in accordance with paragraph (2).

(2) On each occasion the holder arrives in the United Kingdom, he shall be treated for the purposes of the Immigration Acts as having been granted, before arrival, leave to enter the United Kingdom for a limited period beginning on the date of arrival, being:

a) six months if six months or more remain of the visa’s period of validity; or
(b) the visa’s remaining period of validity, if less than six months.

Long Lerm Multiple Entry Business Visitor Visa UK

For travelling to the UK regularly for a business purpose, an applicant may consider applying for a long-term multiple entry business visitor visa UK for 2, 5 and 10 years.

The benefit of applying a long-term visa is that one only needs to make one visa application and provide biometric data once for the duration of the visa. One can undertake multiple visits to the United Kingdom during the validity of the visa; however, as stated above, one can’t stay for longer than 180 days in any 12 months period.

However, for getting a long-term visa, one needs to provide a credible reason to frequently visit the UK, necessary evidence to establish the stability of circumstances. Travel history is also an important consideration for granting a long-term visitor visa.

Please note: like any other visa application, the visa fee is not refundable i.e. if an immigration officer decides to issue a visa for a shorter duration than the requested or altogether refuse the application, then the visa fee is not refunded.

Processing Times

As explained in our post on Business Visitor Visa Processing Times, nearly 50% of the applications are processed within 5 working days, which indicates that a majority of business visitors use priority service. Approximately, 90-100% applications are usually concluded within 10-15 days and only a very few applications take longer time for disposal.

UK Business Visitor Visa Fees

The applicable fees are that of Standard Visitor Visa Fee for 6 months, 2, 5 and 10 years, which from April 6, 2018, are:

  • UK Business Visa Fees for 6 Months, single or multiple entry £93
  • UK Business Visa Fees For 2 Years £350 [note 1]
  • UK Business Visa 5 Years Fee £636
  • UK Business Visa 10 Years Fee £798

Note 1- Application fee of £93 where the applicant is a Chinese national applying in mainland China under the Chinese visa scheme.

Permissible Corporate Business Activites

The Appendix V for Visitor of the Immigration Rules allows a number of business activities such as intra-corporate advice, counselling, training, troubleshooting, registering venture capital firm as a prospective entrepreneur, installing, dismantling, repairing or servicing an equipment and secondment of Clients of UK export companies, the details of which are as under:

Intra-corporate activities
6 An employee of an overseas based company may:
(a) advise and consult;
(b) trouble-shoot;
(c) provide training;
(d) 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.

7 An internal auditor may carry out regulatory or financial audits at a UK branch of the same group of companies as the visitor’s employer overseas.

Prospective Entrepreneur
8 A visitor who can show support from:
(a) one or more registered venture capitalist firms regulated by the financial conduct authority; or
(b) one or more UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions which is listed as endorsed on http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/entrepreneurs-setting-up-in-the-uk/entrepreneurs-setting-up-in-the-uk; or
(c) one or more UK Government Departments; may come to the UK for discussions to secure funding from one of the above sources which they intend to use to join, set up or take over a business in the UK.

Manufacturing and supply of goods to the UK
9 An employee of a foreign manufacturer or supplier may install, dismantle, repair, service or advise on equipment, computer software or hardware where it has a contract of purchase or supply or lease with a UK company or organisation.

Clients of UK export companies
10 A client of a UK export company may be seconded to the UK company in order to oversee the requirements for goods and services that are being provided under contract by the UK company or its subsidiary company, provided the two companies are not part of the same group. Employees may exceptionally make multiple visits to cover the duration of the contract.

Business Activities Permitted for Specific Sectors

Appendix V enumerates the permitted sector-specific business activities relating to Science, Research, Academia, Legal, Religion, Creative, Sport and Work-related Training, the details of which are as under:

Science, research and academia
11 Scientists and researchers may:
(a) gather information and facts for a specific project which directly relates to their employment overseas;
(b) share knowledge or advise on an international project that is being led from the UK, provided the visitor is not carrying out research in the UK.

12 Academics may:
(a) take part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts (including doctors);
(b) carry out research for their own purposes if they are on sabbatical leave from their home institution;
(c) if they are an eminent senior doctor or dentist, take part in research, teaching or clinical practice provided this does not amount to filling a permanent teaching post.

Legal
13 An expert witness may visit the UK to give evidence in a UK court. Other witnesses may visit the UK to attend a court hearing in the UK if summoned in person by a UK court.
14 An overseas lawyer may advise a UK based client on specific international litigation and/or an international transaction.

Religion
15 Religious workers may visit the UK to preach or do pastoral work.

Creative
16 An artist, entertainer, or musician may:
(a) give performances as an individual or as part of a group;
(b) take part in competitions or auditions;
(c) make personal appearances and take part in promotional activities;
(d) take part in one or more cultural events or festivals on the list of permit free festivals in Appendix 5 (where payment is permitted).

17 Personal or technical staff or members of the production team of an artist, entertainer or musician may support the activities in paragraph 16 of this Appendix or paragraph 1(e) of Appendix 4, provided they are attending the same event as the artist, entertainer or musician, and are employed to work for them outside of the UK.

18 Film crew (actor, producer, director or technician) employed by an overseas company may visit the UK to take part in a location shoot for a film or programme that is produced and financed overseas.

Sport
19 A sports person may:
(a) take part in a sports tournament or sports event as an individual or part of a team;
(b) make personal appearances and take part in promotional activities;
(c) take part in trials provided they are not in front of a paying audience;
(d) take part in short periods of training provided they are not being paid by a UK sporting body;
(e) join an amateur team or club to gain experience in a particular sport if they are an amateur in that sport.

20 Personal or technical staff of the sports person, or sports officials, may support the activities in paragraph 19 of this Appendix or in paragraph 1(e) of Appendix 4, if they are attending the same event as the sports person. Personal or technical staff of the sports person must be employed to work for the sports person outside the UK.

Business – overseas roles requiring specific activities in the UK
21 Individuals employed outside the UK may visit the UK to take part in the following activities in relation to their employment overseas:
(a) a translator and/or interpreter may support a business person in the UK, provided they will attend the same event(s) as the business person and are employed by that business person outside of the UK;
(b) personal assistants and bodyguards may support an overseas business person in carrying out permitted activities, provided they will attend the same event(s) as the business person and are employed by them outside the UK. They must not be providing personal care or domestic work for the business person;
(c) a driver on a genuine international route delivering goods or passengers from abroad to the UK;
(d) a tour group courier, contracted to a company with its headquarters outside the UK, who is entering and departing the UK with a tour group organised by their company;
(e) a journalist, correspondent, producer or cameraman gathering information for an overseas publication, programme or film;
(f) archaeologists taking part in a one-off archaeological excavation;
(g) a professor from an overseas academic institution accompanying students to the UK as part of a study abroad programme, may provide a small amount of teaching to the students at the host organisation. However this must not amount to filling a permanent teaching role for that institution.

Work-related training
22 Overseas graduates from medical, dental or nursing schools may:
(a) undertake clinical attachments or dental observer posts provided these are unpaid, and involve no treatment of patients. The visitor must provide written confirmation of their offer to take up this post and confirm they have not previously undertaken this activity in the UK;
(b) take the following test/examination in the UK:
(i) the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test, where the visitor can provide written confirmation of this from the General Medical Council; or
(ii) the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) for overseas, where the visitor can provide written evidence of this from the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

23 Employees of an overseas company or organisation may receive training from a UK based company or organisation in work practices and techniques which are required for the visitor’s employment overseas and not available in their home country.

24 An employee of an overseas based training company may deliver a short series of training to employees of a UK based company, where 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.

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Related: Can I Switch a Visitor Visa to a Work Visa?, How hard is it to get a Standard Visa? and Form FLR(IR) – Applications for Extension of Stay in the UK

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