What Activities Can a Business Visitor Undertake in the UK?
On 31st January 2024, significant changes to the UK immigration rules came into effect, offering greater flexibility to business visitors. These changes have expanded the scope of permitted work-related activities for visitors without requiring sponsorship or alternative immigration permission. In this article, we will break down the various types of business visitors and explore the activities you can now undertake in the UK following these rule changes. We’ll cover everything from intra-corporate activities to legal professionals and experts in their fields.
I. Visitor Categories and General Changes
The new rules create flexibility for business visitors, primarily aimed at those conducting business in the UK.
General Business Visitors
Business visitors may undertake the following activities:
- Attend Meetings, Conferences, Seminars, and Interviews: Business visitors can participate in meetings, conferences, seminars, and interviews relevant to their purpose of visit.
- Give Talks and Speeches (Non-Commercial): Visitors can deliver one-off or short series of talks and speeches if they are not organised as commercial events.
- Negotiate and Sign Deals and Contracts: Visitors can negotiate and sign deals and contracts related to their business activities.
- Attend Trade Fairs for Promotional Purposes: Business visitors can participate in trade fairs to promote their products or services, provided they are not directly selling.
- Carry Out Site Visits and Inspections: Visitors can conduct site visits and inspections relevant to their business activities.
- Gather Information for Overseas Employment: Business visitors may gather information required for their overseas employment during their stay in the UK.
- Be Briefed on UK Customer Requirements: Visitors can be briefed on the requirements of UK-based customers if any work for the customer is performed outside the UK.
Employees of overseas-based companies can:
- Advise and Consult: Employees can provide advice and consultancy services.
- Troubleshoot: Visitors can engage in troubleshooting activities related to their company’s operations.
- Provide Training: Visitors are allowed to provide training to UK employees.
- Share Skills and Knowledge with UK Employees: Knowledge sharing between visitors and UK employees is now permissible.
- Engage in Internal Audits in UK Branches: Visitors can conduct internal audits within UK branches of the same corporate group.
These changes allow for direct client interactions within an intra-corporate setting.
Visitors can work remotely in the UK if it is not their primary purpose for visiting. This includes activities related to their overseas employment, such as responding to emails and phone calls.
Various specialist occupations are permissible, including:
- Installation, Dismantling, Repair, or Servicing Machinery: Visitors can perform installation, repair, or servicing of machinery, equipment, software, or hardware.
- Oversight of Goods and Services Requirements: Specialists can oversee the requirements for goods and services.
- Translation and Interpretation: Translators and interpreters can provide services in the UK.
- Support Roles (e.g., Personal Assistants, Bodyguards): Support roles like personal assistants and bodyguards are allowed if they are not providing personal care or domestic work for the businessperson.
- Tour Group Couriers: Couriers contracted to overseas companies can enter and depart the UK with tour groups organised by their company.
- Journalism and Media Production: Journalists, correspondents, producers, or camerapersons can gather information for overseas publications, programmes, or films.
- Archaeological Work: Archaeologists can participate in one-off archaeological excavations.
- Teaching in Study Abroad Programs: Professors from overseas academic institutions accompanying students to the UK as part of a study abroad program may provide a small amount of teaching.
- Market Research and Analysis: Market researchers and analysts can conduct research for enterprises located outside the UK.
- Driving on International Routes and Seafaring Activities: Drivers on international routes and seafarers working on vessels between UK and non-UK ports have specific provisions allowing them to carry out their work during their stay in the UK.
II. Scientists, Academics, and Researchers
- Formal Exchange Arrangements: Scientists and researchers can participate in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts.
- Research Activities: Scientists, researchers, and some academics can now conduct research in the UK during their visit. Certain restrictions apply for academics on extended stays.
III. Legal Professionals
- Expanded Scope: Legal professionals have a significantly expanded list of permitted activities, including:
- Providing legal advice.
- Offering advocacy in courts or arbitrations.
- Acting as arbitrators, mediators, or expert witnesses.
- Conferences and teaching.
- Transactional legal services, including drafting contracts.
- Billing Clients: Legal professionals can bill UK clients for their time in the UK under specific circumstances.
IV. Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE), now within the Standard Visitor Category
- PPE List: PPEs include a wide range of professional engagements, such as:
- Highly qualified academics.
- Experts giving lectures.
- Pilot examiners.
- Qualified lawyers.
- Professional artists, entertainers, and musicians.
- Professional sportspersons.
- Conference speakers (now included).
- Restrictions: Work must be arranged in advance, and the PPE must be completed within 30 days of entry.
- Duration and Multiple Visits: Individuals entering for PPE reasons will be granted entry as a Standard Visitor, allowing potential stays of up to six months rather than the previous one-month limit. Visitors can return for multiple PPE engagements, ensuring they meet the requirements each time.
The recent changes in UK immigration rules have created more flexibility for business visitors and professionals, making the UK a more accessible and attractive destination for conducting business. These changes offer hope for those wishing to engage in work-related activities in the UK, with the potential for a more pragmatic approach and a brighter outlook for business visitors. Stay informed and make the most of these opportunities to conduct business in the UK. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or need help.