This guidance relates to the UK business visitor visa rules and requirements 2019. Therefore, in the light of Appendix V of the Immigration Rules tries to answer FAQs relating to UK business visa requirements and permitted activities.
UK business visitor visa rules and requirements 2019: FAQs
In terms of Immigration Rules Appendix V for Visitors, the standard visitor visa for a business purpose is a business visa UK. Accordingly, 6 months standard visitor visa for a business purpose usually refers to a short term business visa. However, the 2, 5 and 10 years visitor visa for frequently visiting the British Isles for a business purpose refers to as long term business visitor visa.
Quite clearly, an applicant can apply online for 6 months, 2, 5 and 10 years business visitor visa, including sports and entertainment.
Perhaps, apart from specifying a clear purpose of visiting the UK, a business visa applicant needs to prove that he/she:
1. has ample funds to support himself/herself during the trip
2. intends to leave the United Kingdom at the end of the visit
3. can meet the costs of his/her return or onward journey
Perhaps, 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/-, £655.00/- and £822.00/-, respectively.
Apparently, businesspersons around the globe visit the British Isles for attending conferences or meetings, arranging deals, negotiating or signing trade contracts or agreements. And also for checking details or goods, undertaking fact-finding missions, or conducting on-site visits and promotional activities. Moreover, apart from the aforesaid general business activities, there are a host of Corporate and Sector Specific permitted business activities allowed under the Immigration Rules.
What are the documents required for UK Business Visitor Visa?
It is mandatory to provide the travel document such as a valid passport and translation of documents, which are not in English/Welsh. Moreover, in order to establish the purpose of visiting the UK and establishing personal bonafide, an applicant needs to provide documents relating to family, assets, income, social ties etc.
UK business visitor visa documents checklist
Accordingly, 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
- 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
- Purpose of Visiting UK such as attending a conference or business meeting
- Evidence of Employment
- Full time employed applicant to provide an employment letter. Moreover, the letter from employer indicates approval of the leave for the specified period. The letter preferably may include details of employment such as duration, position, salary etc. Perhaps, the letter may also indicate when the person resumes work. Certainly, it is a good practice to supplement an employment letter with Pay Slips, Tax Returns, bank statements.
- Self-employed applicants 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.
- Evidence of Finances and Bank Statements usually for the preceding six months and proof of savings
- Sponsor Documents such as Invitation Letter or Confirmation from the UK company, business, or establishment. If the sponsor is paying for accommodation then may include details such as hotel booking. The invitation letter may also indicate the trip details.
- Evidence of Family Members Remaining in Home Country such as Marriage Certificate, Family Registration Document
- Proof of Ties to the Home Country such as ownership of immovable property
For further details refer to supporting documents.
Can a visitor attend a job interview on business visitor visa UK?
Yes, you may in terms of paragraph 5(a) of Appendix 3 of Appendix V for Visitors. Moreover, in terms of paragraph 5(f) of Appendix 3 can also gather information for your employment overseas. Accordingly, if a person intends to work under the Tier 2 route then can visit for a job interview and exploring work opportunities.
Can a business visitor sell products or services in the UK?
Perhaps, 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.
Can a business visitor receive payments in the UK?
Yes, in terms with paragraph V 4.7 of Appendix V, a visitor can receive certain types of payments during his/her visit.
Is an Invitation Letter necessary for applying UK Business Visa?
Usually, in most of the cases, an invitation letter for business visitor visa UK specifies an immediate or recurring purpose of visiting the United Kingdom. However, there are instances when an invitation letter may not be necessary. For example, an artist attending a permit-free festival.
Is Online Registration for Trade Fair a good reason to visit UK?
At times, instead of an invitation letter, applicants use the registration to attend a trade fair or an exhibition. Perhaps, such registrations may act as a proxy to an invitation letter if an applicant is able to explain business credentials in the application. However, depending on the personal circumstances of an applicant, such online generic registration may not fulfil the visa requirements. Accordingly, many not suffix a formal invitation letter for successfully applying for a business visitor visa.
Therefore, if you are intending to apply for a business visa then it is better to have a specific invitation rather than generic online registration.
What are the conditions of stay for Business Visitors?
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, as per paragraph 25 of Appendix 3 of Appendix V for visitors. Moreover, cannot work in the UK. And can only undertake permitted activities in the UK.
How many times I can visit the UK on a business visitor visa?
As per paragraph V 1.6 of Appendix V, a person on a business visitor visa may enter the UK on multiple occasions during the validity period of the visa, unless the visitor visa is endorsed as a single or dual entry visa.
How long a person can stay on a Business Visitor Visa UK?
A business visitor can stay in the United Kingdom up to 6 months, 180 days per visit. However, businesspersons across the globe are quite busy people- and knows that time is money. Therefore, usually, the duration of stay is not more than 1-3 weeks.
Can person visit as a Tourist on a Business Visitor Visa UK?
Yes, it is possible to visit the UK as a Tourist on UK C Visit Business Visa, as tourism is a permitted activity on a standard visitor visa.
Why a single entry business visa is issued?
The Immigration Rules Paragraph 9(i) 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.
Usually, the Immigration Officer as per Paragraph 9(ii) abides by 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 having a Duration of Stay either for 180 days or less- for instance 15, 30, 60, 90 days.
What are the UK business visa application possible outcomes?
An applicant applies for a 2-year multiple entry visa UK for frequently visiting the UK as a business visitor. During the assessment process the Immigration Officer can make any of the following decisions:
- Grant a 2-year multiple entry visa
- May grant a short term UK business visitor visa. This may happen if the ECO is not clear about the need of visiting the UK beyond 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
Can I apply for a Long Term Business Visitor Visa?
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.
How to get long term business visitor visa?
To get a long term business visitor visa UK, an applicant 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.
What are permitted activities for a business visitor in the UK?
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, on the airport/border, an immigration officer can ask an applicant about the purpose of visiting with varying degree of details. Perhaps, sometime the officer may only ask cursorily but on other occasions may conduct a detailed investigation.
Incidental Business or Work-Related Activities
Business activities usually link to an applicant’s employment/work/business in the home country. Therefore, the business-related activities in the UK for visitors should be only incidental to his or her employment, work, and business.
A visitor can keep Contact with the 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. An applicant may attach a letter of employment, along with other requisite documents.
Attending Conferences and Seminars
Visitors can attend seminars or conferences. These are focus 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 their field of interest. Moreover, the field of interest may relate to 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 are usually for a short time period and link to an identifiable project. The activities must not involve the visitors to directly working for a British company’s clients or a commercial/business project.
The applicant must satisfy in the application that he/she is not coming to take paid work. For instance, an ‘intra-company transferee’ needs to apply for a Tier 2 ICT visa. If there are doubts about the intentions of the applicants, then this may lead to a refusal.
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. After securing the funding, the visitor can 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;
Perhaps, activities for a duration of more than one month do not lead to an automatic ground for refusal. However, during the assessment process, the caseworker may ask questions about the intentions of an applicant.
Clients of UK Export Companies
This requires a contract of service between the two companies. Perhaps, the UK company has a duty under the contract to provide goods or services to an overseas company. However, the two companies are separate entities and not part of the same corporate 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, this requires a definite end date for the work.
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.
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. However, the undertaking is only incidental to their employment/professional 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, but the research work should not be for commercial gain.
Academics applying for 12 months visa, or an extension, should be highly qualified within their field of expertise. And also working 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 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 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.
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.
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 for performing arts. Perhaps, as dancers, comedians, members of circus acts or members of the film crew.
Personal or technical staff attending the same event can accompany the artist, musician or entertainer to the UK. However, personal/technical staff should remain employed overseas. Examples of personal/technical staff may include, but may not restrict to:
- press officers;
- stage managers;
- make-up artists;
- personal bodyguards;
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 should 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 are not required to be employed by sportspersons to work for them overseas. 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.
Overseas Roles Requiring Specific Activities in the UK
It is possible for certain types of person, who have employment abroad, to visit the UK to carry out 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 should neither be undertaking the domestic work nor providing personal care to the visitor – if they intend to do so then they must apply under the Overseas Domestic Worker route.
Work-related Training under a business visitor visa UK
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 British Isles. Perhaps, an applicant needs to clarify the following points:
- how long the visitor intends to undertake practical training;
- the possibility/probability of the visitor to start working for the company in GB;
If the training is available in the home country then an applicant must explain the need for coming to GB 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;
PLAB and OSCE
In case an applicant intends to do the PLAB test in the United Kingdom then this neither usually includes any study in the UK nor counts towards the permitted duration of the study. The applicant needs to provide confirmation of the PLAB Test or OSCE from GMC or NMC.
After successfully passing the PLAB test an applicant can do an unpaid clinical attachment in agreement with the stipulations of the immigration rules for visitors.
Visitors can sit at a test or an examination in Great Britain. For instance, the entry test for one of the Royal Colleges.
What is the UK Business Visitor Visa Processing Time?
For non-settlement visa application processing, from outside the UK, such as Business Visitor Visa Applications, UKVI intends to process 90%, 98% and 100% of the applications within 3 weeks (15 working days), 6 weeks (30 working days) and 12 weeks (60 working days), respectively. Moreover, for priority service, the stated service standard of UKVI is 5 working days; however, it may vary from country to country, for instance, for applications submitted from Pakistan, it is 7-9 working days.
What is average UK business visitor visa processing time?
The details for UK Business Visitor Visa Processing Time from different 15 UKVACs across the globe, during the month of January 2018, indicates that at an average approx. 50% of the applications are processed and decided within 5 working days. This indicates that quite a few business visitors are using the priority service, which enables expediting processing of an application ahead of the non-priority applications. In 90-100% of the cases, the business visa application is concluded within 10-15 working days and only a very few applications take more than 15 working days for disposal. If your visa application is experiencing delays in processing then read our post: UK Visa Delay Reasons
A random sample from fifteen (15) UK Visa Application Centres (UKVACs) during January 2018 is as under for further information:
1) UK business visitor visa processing time: Thailand (Bangkok)
2%, 59%, 94% and 100% of the applications from UKVAC Bangkok determined in 2, 3, 5 and 10 days, respectively.
2) UK business visitor visa timeline from Pakistan (Karachi)
20%, 77%, 97% and 100% of the UK business visit visa applications from UKVAC Karachi, Pakistan, decided within 3, 5, 10 and 15 working days, respectively.
3) UK business visitor visa processing time: Turkey (Bursa)
3%, 16%, 54% and 100% of the applications submitted at UKVAC Bursa decided in 3, 5, 10 and 15 days, respectively.
4) UK business visitor visa processing time: India (Mumbai)
39%, 40%, 97% and 100% of the Business Visit Visa Applications submitted at UKVAC Mumbai were decided in 3, 5, 10 and 30 days, respectively.
5) UK business visitor visa processing time: Egypt (Cairo)
9%, 27%, 67%, 99% and 100% of the business visitor visa applications submitted at UKVAC Cairo determined within 3, 5, 10, 15 and 30 days, respectively.
6) UK business visitor visa processing time: South Africa
31%, 42%, 49%, 96%, 99% and 100% of the UK business visa applications from Cape Town, South Africa, concluded within 2, 3, 5, 10, 15 and 30 days, respectively.
7) UK business visitor visa timelines India (Chennai)
27%, 65%, 99% and 100% of the business visa applications submitted at UKVAC Chennai determined within 3, 5, 10 and 15 days, respectively.
8) UK business visa processing time: Sri Lanka (Colombo)
25%, 70% and 100% of the applications submitted at UKVAC Colombo were processed in 3, 5 and 10 days, respectively.
9) UK business visa processing time: Lebanon (Beirut)
7%, 38%, 85%, 97%, 98%, 99% and 100% of the UK business visa applications submitted at UKVAC Beirut concluded in 3, 5, 10, 15, 30, 60 and 90 days, respectively.
10) UK business visa processing time: Bangladesh (Dhaka)
25%, 38% and 100% of the applications submitted at UKVAC Dhaka were determined in 3, 5 and 10 days, respectively.
11) UK business visitor visa processing time from the USA
35%, 77%, 99% and 100% of the UK business visa applications from the USA processed within 3, 5, 10 and 30 days, respectively.
12) UK business visa timelines Qatar (Doha)
9%, 53%, 62%, 96% and 100% of the UK business visa applications submitted at UKVAC Doha concluded within 3, 5, 10, 15 and 30 days, respectively.
13) UK business visa processing time: UAE (Dubai)
61%, 82%, 92%, 98%, 99% and 100% of the UK business visitor visa applications submitted at UKVAC Dubai determined in 2, 3, 5, 10, 15 and 30 days, respectively.
14) UK business visa timelines from Irish Republic (Dublin)
23%, 26%, 64% and 100% of the UK business visa applications submitted at UKVAC Dublin concluded within 5, 10, 15 and 30 days, respectively.
15) UK business visitor visa processing time: Nigeria (Lagos)
8%, 34%, 42%, 91% and 100% of the UK business visa applications from Lagos concluded in 3, 5, 10, 15 and 30 days, respectively.
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Moreover, to know the country-specific details of UK visa applications please refer to Egypt, Ghana, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE and the USA.