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UK Visit Visa: What Activities Are Permitted?

In this post, we take a look at what activities visitors to the UK can (and cannot) do when they visit the UK for any of the following purposes: 

Readers may also wish to refer to our previous posts: UK Visitor Visa (Tourism or Leisure) – Top 10 FAQs, A Guide to the UK Tourism, Leisure & Family Visit Visa and A Guide to the UK Tourism, Leisure & Family Visit Visa – Part Two

Tourism, Leisure or Family Visit Visa 

As a visitor, you will have to show that you are entering the UK and are undertaking activities that are permitted. These activities include visiting friends and family and/or coming to the UK for a holiday. 

Visitors may also take part in educational exchange programmes in the UK.  The visit may be to a state funded school or academy or an independent school. The Home Office may check whether the students are in full time education in their home country and the accompanying adults are employed abroad.

Another permitted activity includes undertaking recreational study for up to 30 days where the course does not lead to a formal qualification. For example, a horse riding course. If you wish to undertake an English language course between 6 to 11 months at an accredited institution, a Short Term Student Visa (English Language) may be an option and this is an unsponsored route.

General Business Activities 

As a visitor intending to carry out business activities in the UK, the Home Office will assess whether you are coming to the UK to work or making the UK your main place of work. 

The Immigration Rules set out the following permitted general business activities when in the UK as a visitor:

  • Attending meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews;
  • Giving 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;
  • Negotiating and signing deals and contracts;
  • Attending trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling;
  • Carrying out site visits and inspections;
  • Gathering information for employment overseas;
  • Being briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK.

For other work-related activities, please have a look at our page on the Business Visit Visa and our post Dos and don’ts of conducting business on a visit visa.

If you are not sure of the business activities you are allowed to carry out in the UK as a visitor, it is worth seeking legal advice prior to your visit to avoid having your visit visa application refused as discussed on our blog here.

Artists and Entertainers 

If a company is inviting an artist from overseas to visit the UK to perform, they may be able to do so under certain circumstances set out here.

Home Office guidance considers an artist to be “anyone coming to the UK to undertake an activity that is connected to the arts, such as literature, performing arts, visual arts or culinary arts.” 

Entertainers are considered to be anyone who undertakes an activity related to the performing arts, such as dancers, comedians, circus performers, film crew and e-sport competitors.

Artists, entertainers and musicians may undertake the following permitted activities with permission as a Creative Visitor:

  • 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;
  • Take part in one or more cultural events or festivals on the Permit Free Festival List.

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


Sportspersons may undertake the following permitted sporting activities with permission as a Sports Visitor:

  • 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;
  • Join an amateur team or club to gain experience in a particular sport if they are an amateur in that sport.

If an applicant is looking to work as a professional sportsperson, there is a different visa route – International Sportsperson Visa

Are Payments Accepted as a Visitor?

Visitors are not permitted to work in the UK and, with few exceptions, may not receive payment from a UK source for activities undertaken in the UK. In April 2022, we published a post on the exceptions to visitors accepting payment equivalent to a salary for activities undertaken in the UK whilst here as a visitor. The exceptions are when the visitor is an artist, entertainer or musician attending a Permit Free Festival in the UK or a visitor who has permission as a Permitted Paid Engagement Visitor

What Activities Are Considered as Work?

A visitor must not intend to work in the UK and this 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.

If you need any further clarification on whether the activities you will be undertaking in the UK constitute work, advice from an immigration specialist will ensure compliance with the UK’s immigration rules. 

Eligibility Requirements for a UK Visitor Visa Application

When making a visitor visa application,  an applicant must show that:

  • They are a genuine visitor and will leave the UK at the end of their visit;
  • They will not make frequent or successive visits to the UK or make the UK their main home;
  • They have sufficient funds for their visit, including the cost of return journey;
  • They can provide evidence of the purpose of their visit;
  • They must not undertake prohibited activities;

It may be possible to apply for a long-term visit visa of up to 2 years, 5 years or 10 years and each visit must be no longer than 6 months from the date of entry. 

Contact our UK Visit Visa Immigration Lawyers

For expert advice and assistance with a visit visa application, contact our Immigration Barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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