What is the Business Visitor Visa?
It is possible to come to the UK for business purposes on the Standard Visitor Visa. The business activities permitted under this visa category are strictly regulated by the UK government.
Before travelling to the UK, you must be aware of what constitutes acceptable business activities. It is important to note that the Standard Visitor Visa does not allow the holder to undertake paid or unpaid work while in the UK.
In order to work in the UK, you must hold a valid long-term or short-term work visa. Under the new points-based immigration system, you will be required to reach a certain points threshold before being granted a work visa.
However, if your business activity falls under one of the below categories, then you may be able to come to the UK on a valid visit visa.
On this Business Visit Visa, you can stay in the UK for up to six months at a time, depending on the length of your visa. With the Visitor Visa, you can choose a 2-year, 5-year, or 10-year visa, but you may only stay for 180 days at a time.
What are permitted activities for Business Visitors?
There are strict rules around what a person may do on this visa category and what would be considered a breach of immigration rules.
Permitted activities for business visitors may include:
- To attend meetings, conferences, seminars or interviews (without payment)
- Delivering a series of non-recurring talks or speeches (without payment)
- Activities falling under business deal negotiations and signing contracts
- To attend trade fairs in a promotional capacity (without selling)
- Undertaking site visits and inspections
- To Gather information on a potential new employment overseas
- Discussing the business requirements of a UK-based customer (where all work is completed outside the UK)
The permitted intra-corporate activities include:
- Overseas employees may advise and consult on a specific UK-based project of the same company (where no work with clients is undertaken)
- An overseas employee of a multinational company based in the UK may also troubleshoot, train or share skills and knowledge on a single project
If you are employed outside the UK but will be providing your services outside the UK, the following are permitted activities:
- Translators and/or interpreters may undertake their normal duties if they are an employee of an overseas entity
- Personal assistants and bodyguards are allowed to work with an overseas businessperson undertaking permitted activities
- A tour group courier who is employed by a non-UK business who intends to enter and leave the UK with an organised tour group
- A journalist or other media executive gathering information in the UK for the purposes of a media publication
- An archaeologist undertaking a single excavation
- An academic accompanying a tour group to a host university undertaking some teaching to students on a temporary basis
- A market researcher conducting research in the UK for a non-UK organisation
Supporting documents for Business Visit Visas
Like all categories of visa, there are documents that you must submit to prove that you are a genuine business visitor and that you are eligible to be granted this visa.
The documents that you should submit with your visa application depend on the exact nature of your visit to the UK.
If you can prove that you will not breach any immigration laws and there is a reasonable purpose for your visit, you may be more likely to be granted a Business Visitor Visa.
You can submit evidence that you have a genuine reason for your business visit when making your visa applications.
One of the most important documents will be proof that you have deep ties to your home country and intend to return at the end of your visit.
This could be supporting evidence of a job, your family, education commitments, or similar reasons. Providing evidence of payment for your home trip is also important.
Business Visitor Visas are more likely to be approved if clear evidence is presented that you are committed to leaving after the expiry of your visa.
As well as this, you should be prepared to evidence the fact that you can support yourself financially for the full duration of your business trip.
This could take the form of bank statements or payslips from your employer, for example. A condition of your stay is that you will not seek to use public funds.
If you have received a supporting letter of invitation from an organisation under one of the approved circumstances above, you should also submit this as part of your application.
How to apply for the Business Visitor Visa UK
In order to be granted a Business Visitor Visa, there are a number of eligibility criteria that you must meet, that include requirements for the Standard Visitor Visa and business visitors.
If you are confident that you meet the requirements, you must make your application from outside the UK. Use the online application form to complete your details and upload the relevant information.
As part of your application, you should be able to provide information on your reason for visiting the UK.
You should have official documents to show that you are a genuine visitor and do not intend to overstay your visa.
If requested, you should also submit your biometric information (including facial photographs and fingerprints).
What is the Business Visitor Visa waiting time?
The waiting times for a Visitor Visa in the UK can vary. The Home Office has advised that on average, most people will wait approximately 3 weeks to receive a decision on their application.
You will be notified by official letter or email on the outcome of your application, whether positive or negative. If the application has been refused, the letter should outline the reasons why and any next steps involved in the process.
The length of time for your application to be processed may depend on your home country and your circumstances.
If there are extenuating factors to be considered in your application, your waiting time may be longer.
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The UK Business Visitor Visa is not recognised as a separate category, rather it falls under the Standard Visitor Visa category.
This means that in order to be approved, you should fulfil the requirements of the Standard Visitor Visa and make it clear that you intend to come to the UK to undertake one of the approved business activities for business visitors.
Yes, the two visas are very different. The Business Visitor Visa is a form of the Standard Visitor Visa and can only be used for a very limited set of business activities. The length of time that a person can come to the UK on a Business Visitor Visa is limited to 180 days.
Depending on the category and the applicant’s circumstances, some of these visas can be extended.
As a UK law firm specialised in immigration, we are experts in all aspects of immigration law and can help you with your application for a Business Visitor Visa UK. We can advise you on the likely acceptance of your application and make recommendations on the best forms of supporting documents to maximise your chances of a successful application.
Some of the support we provide includes:
- Comprehensive examination of all your documents to be submitted with your application
- Eligibility assessments of the organisation with which you are undertaking a business activity
- Thorough preparation of your Business Visitor Visa application form
- Preparation of a Letter of Representation to support your application
- Liaison with the Home Office while your application is being assessed
We also provide you with ongoing support and assistance throughout the application process, keeping you up to date with all steps in the process.
You can stay up to six months or 180 days at a time. The immigration rules restrict you from using business visit visas (and other short-term visas) to travel for frequent or successive visits, but you can visit the UK as many times within six months.
You can also apply for longer durations, which is available for all standard visitor visa routes. Those are for two years, five years, or ten years, but you are still limited to a maximum stay of up to six months at a time. You can only extend your stay with a business visa for specific reasons, such as needing further private medical treatment.