Dos and don'ts of conducting business on a visit visa
Whilst there is not a specific visit visa for a business person, you can be granted a Visit (Standard) Visa for business purposes. If you are able to obtain a visit visa then you must comply with the general requirements of the visit visa and the specific sections of the Immigration Rules aimed at those conducting business of any kind. As a visitor you will be restricted as to what you can and can’t do.
General Requirements of a Visit Visa
In order to obtain a visit visa you must have a ‘genuine intention to visit’, under Appendix V of the Immigration Rules. This means that you must show that:
- You will leave the UK at the end of your visit;
- You will not live in the UK for an extended period through frequent and successive visits or make the UK your main home;
- You are genuinely seeking entry for a purpose that is permitted by the visitor routes;
- You will not undertake any prohibited activities;
- You have sufficient funds to cover all the costs of your visit.
What you’re allowed to do
There are general activities which are allowed for individuals visiting for business purposes. A visitor may:
- Attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews;
- 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;
- Negotiate and sign deals and contracts;
- Attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling;
- Carry out site visits and inspections;
- Gather information for their employment overseas;
- Be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK.
An employee of an overseas based company may:
- Advise and consult;
- Provide training;
- 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.
There will be other types of visitors who will be allowed to conduct other types of work. For example, artists, entertainers and musicians may give performances as an individual or as part of a group; take part in competitions or auditions; make personal appearances and take part in promotional activities; and take part in one or more cultural events or festivals on the list of permit free festivals. A sportsperson may take part in a sports tournament or sports event as an individual or part of a team; make personal appearances and take part in promotional activities; take part in trials provided they are not in front of a paying audience; take part in short periods of training provided they are not being paid by a UK sporting body; and join an amateur team or club to gain experience in a particular sport.
What you’re not allowed to do
For employees of an overseas based company, the visitor must not intend to work in the UK, which includes the following:
- Taking employment in the UK;
- Doing work for an organisation or business in the UK;
- Establishing or running a business as a self-employed person;
- Doing a work placement or internship;
- Direct selling to the public;
- Providing goods and services.
Permitted activities must not amount to employment, or doing work which amounts to them filling a role or providing short-term cover for a role within a UK based organisation. In addition, where the applicant is already paid and employed outside of the UK, they must remain so.
Payment in the UK may only be allowed in specific circumstances set out below.
Exceptions to payment
In the following circumstances a business visitor may take payment from a UK for activities undertaken in the UK:
- Reasonable expenses to cover the cost of their travel and subsistence, including fees for directors attending board-level meetings; or
- Prize money; or
- Billing a UK client for their time in the UK, where the applicant’s overseas employer is contracted to provide services to a UK company, and the majority of the contract work is carried out overseas. Payment must be lower than the amount of the applicant’s salary; or
- Multinational companies who, for administrative reasons, handle payment of their employees’ salaries from the UK; or
- Paid performances at a permit free festival.
If you are entering the UK for a short term, paid engagement, then you may be able to apply for a Permitted Paid Engagement Visa.
There is no specified evidence for a visit visa but you may wish to provide evidence of:
- Your reason for visiting the UK e.g. a specific conference or meeting you will be attending;
- Any payment for the work you will conduct on your visit and how this payment will be made e.g. a letter from your employer confirming this;
- Any reasons you have to return home e.g. family ties or property;
- The cost of your trip and how it will be funded.
Contact our Business Immigration Barristers
For expert advice in relation to an application for a visit visa for business purposes, contact our business immigration barristers & lawyers in London on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.