Business Visitor Visa
The UK business visitor visa allows foreign nationals from non-EEA countries to travel to the UK to perform certain business activities. There are a range of business visas available for UK travel, but the business visitor visa specifically falls under the standard visitor visa category. This means that you are allowed to travel to the UK for a short term stay, usually for a period of no longer than six months, for a specific range of business-related activities.
There is a range of different work and business visas available to non-EEA nationals, so it’s important to be clear on whether the visa application you’re submitting will allow you to perform the business activities that you’re travelling to the UK for. For instance, the tier 2 work visa allows you to come to the UK for paid work, and the tier 1 entrepreneur visa will enable you to come to the UK for the purpose of starting and running a business.
What Is A UK Business Visitor Visa And What Can You Do With It?
The standard visitor visa (business visa) won’t allow you to perform these business activities while staying in the UK. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of all the Visitor Rules when travelling to the UK for business from a non-EEA country. Here at the Immigration Advice Service, we always recommend visiting the gov.uk website to check whether the business visitor visa UK will cover your needs.
Permitted activities that you can complete during a short term stay under the UK business visa includes allowing you to:
Attend business appointments such as conferences, meetings, training, seminars, and interviews. As long as you’re not applying for your short term travel visa for paid or unpaid work, you’ll abide by the conditions of the business visa in UK immigration rules.
Perform either a one-off or short series of talks and speeches. As with all other business activity under the business visitor visa, you can’t perform paid work. As long as your activity is promotional work only, is not organised as commercial events and doesn’t make a profit for the organiser, you’ll be staying within UK immigration laws.
Negotiate and sign business deals or contracts. Agreeing and negotiating trade agreements and other deals for yourself or an overseas employer while travelling to the UK under the business visit visa is permitted under Home Office immigration rules.
Checking international goods and services. If conducting business on behalf of an overseas employer, overseas company or international business, you can take a short term visit to the UK to check goods and services. As long as you plan to receive international business payments for services and trade conducted overseas, you are free to visit the UK to check international goods beforehand.
Attend trade fairs for business purposes, as long as you’re doing so for promotional purposes. You can’t directly sell or make a profit.
Conduct research and gather information for the benefit of business purposes overseas. Activities such as market, industry or technological research are permitted.
Carry out site visits and inspections. For international projects and businesses, there’s often a need to travel overseas for general assessment and evaluation. This is allowed under the business visitor visa.
Liaise with UK customers. Provided that any gainful employment is performed overseas, the UK government allows business visitors to travel to the UK for briefing on UK-based customer requirements or needs.
Search for funding for a UK business. If you’re looking to start, take over, join or run a business in the UK, the business visitor visa will allow you to travel to the UK to search for the funding you need. However, it doesn’t allow you to actually perform these business duties during your short term stay here – for that you’ll need the tier 1 innovator visa.
Perform academic research or accompany international students on a study abroad programme. Provided you don’t seek gainful employment whilst in the UK, you’re allowed to travel under the standard visitor visa (business category) to perform academic unpaid work.
Take an exam such as the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) or the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). If you’re planning on coming to the UK as a foreign non-EEA national to live and work as a professional such as a doctor or dentist, you’ll need to prepare in advance. While the short term business visitors visa won’t let you come to the UK to work, you will be able to visit to sit any necessary examination in preparation.
What You Can't Do With A Business Visitor Visa
The business visa UK falls under the standard UK visitor visa and, as such, carries many of the same limitations. UK immigration laws are very strict, and it’s important that you have clarity when putting together your visa application.
If you don’t provide sufficient evidence of your eligibility and intent for travelling to the UK, you risk having your application refused by the Home Office, or being turned down by immigration authorities when you arrive.
While it may seem comprehensive, the UK business visitor visa rules have strict limitations on the business duties you can perform during a short term stay in the UK with the visa.
There is a wide range of different work visas and business visas available for people coming to the UK from the United States, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Australia, and other non-EEA regions, so it’s important to know which visa application is right for you.
Some of the things you can’t do with a business visitor visa include:
Doing paid or unpaid work during your stay. While there are a lot of business activities you can complete with a standard business visa, you can’t perform gainful employment, whether voluntary or not. If you’re working for an overseas company, you need to know that there’s a strict limitation on the work you can do during a short term stay in the UK.
Live or work in the UK for a long period of time. As a category of the standard UK visitor visa, the business visa has a strict restriction on the amount of time you can spend in the UK.
Generally, the business visitor visa doesn’t allow you to stay for any longer than six months, although there are options for overseas nationals who need to visit more frequently, such as long-term visit visas. However, when you make an application for the standard business visa, it’s important to note that this doesn’t cover you for frequent or successive visits.
Receive any public funds. While performing a short term business stay in the UK, you’re not permitted to access any benefits, grants or bursaries from the UK government.
You’ll need to prove evidence of sufficient funds to support your stay and you won’t be able to apply for any business grants or bursaries – even if you’re planning on eventually running, taking over, or joining a UK business.
We know that it can be overwhelming when attempting to decipher which visas allow you to perform which business duties in the UK. We recommend visiting the gov.uk website to read the guidance available from the Home Office about what you can and can’t do with a standard visitor visa (Business).
Get In Touch To Discover More About The UK Business Visitor Visa
The list of business activities you can and can’t perform under the standard visitor visa (business visitor visa) is long and can be a little confusing.
Checking the Visitor Rules is a great place to start, but if you’re still unsure as to which work or business visa will cover your needs, the expert immigration lawyers here at IAS are always on hand to provide advice and assistance.
Just get in touch to discover more about how we can help – we provide a fantastic advice package for those needing a guiding hand, and our application package means you’ll get a thorough and comprehensive service with a dedicated caseworker who will help you to collate and strengthen your visa application with supporting documents.
How Long Will The Visa Processing Time Take?
If you’re planning on a business trip to the UK, you should submit your business visitor visa application forms between three months and 48 hours before you expect to travel. The earliest you are allowed to apply is three months before you travel, and we always think the earlier, the better.
Whether you’re applying from outside the UK via a local embassy or through an online application, visa nationals travelling from countries such as India, Pakistan, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and other non-EEA nations should expect a decision on their visa within around three weeks of applying. We have a guide available that shows you how to track your visa status during the processing period.
However, the visa processing time can be sped up if necessary. If you’ve got an urgent appointment in the UK such as a business interview or conference and you’re willing to pay extra costs in order to make sure you make your appointment, there are priority services available. You could choose either:
The Priority Service, which allows you to ensure that you can collect your decision within five working days of applying. This service isn’t available in every country, so it’s worth checking with your local visa application centre to make sure it’s available if you need it.
The Super Priority Service, which ensures a decision is made within 24 hours of applying. This is a premium service that comes with an additional cost, but is a fantastic option if you’re in a rush to get your visa application approved as quickly as possible. As with the Priority Service, it’s worth checking that this is available in your country by visiting your local embassy or visa application centre first.
If you’re struggling with putting your business visitor visa application together and you’ve got an urgent business appointment in the UK that you can’t afford to miss, our qualified lawyers here at the Immigration Advice Service can help.
We understand that the entire process can be frustrating and overwhelming – that’s why we offer our Fast Track Application Service. We’ll help you to put together a comprehensive application and check all your supporting documents are correct, book you one of the Home Office’s Same-Day Premium slots, and write a supporting Letter of Representation to emphasise the merits of your case. Just get in touch with us to find out more.
What Required Documentation Do I Need To Include For A Successful Visa Application?
To be eligible for the UK business visitor visa, it’s important to show the Home Office several general UK business visa requirements:
- That you fully intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit.
- That you have proof of any and all business activities you intend to perform whilst in the UK.
- That you have sufficient funds to support and house both yourself and any dependents throughout the duration of your visit without needing to rely on public funds.
- That you can afford both your inward and outward journey to the UK.
It’s not always clear exactly how to do this. UK immigration rules can be tough, which is why we offer the advice and application packages here at IAS. For your visa application to have the best chance of success, you’ll need to provide a portfolio of supporting documents that prove your eligibility and travel intent.
First and foremost, you’ll need to provide details of your current passport or other valid travel identification. It’s important that you have the right to travel to the UK, but beware that any required documentation you provide will need to have a certified translation if it isn’t in either English or Welsh.
You may also need to provide:
- Travel documents that state the dates on which you plan to visit the UK.
- An immigration record and details of your travel history within the past ten years.
- Details of an overseas employer or overseas company with which you are associated.
- An estimate for the cost of your visit, as well as evidence of sufficient funds to support your trip.
- UK residence details for your visit.
- Your current overseas contact and address details.
- Your parents’ names and dates of birth, as well as the contact details and passport number of your partner, if applicable.
- Details of any past criminal or immigration offences you may have committed.
Making sure you have a strong portfolio of supporting documents that emphasise the merits of your case is crucial to a successful visa application. If you’re confused or unsure about how to proceed, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at IAS. Our qualified lawyers have dealt with all aspects of immigration law and are best placed to give you the guidance and assistance you need.
Our UK Business Visitor Visa Services
Need a guiding hand to help you put together your business visitor visa application? Sometimes all you need is a little advice to get you moving towards making an informed decision and putting together a successful application. Here at the Immigration Advice Service, that’s what our advice package is all about – giving you the information and assistance you need to add clarity to the application process. We’ll help make sense of everything so that you can move forward with confidence.
When you choose our advice package, you’ll benefit from an untimed one-on-one Advice Session with one of our experts. This is at your convenience and can be done either in person, over the phone or via Skype. Our immigration lawyers are all OISC-regulated and fully qualified with plenty of experience under their belts – no-one is better placed to help advise you through your application.
Our advice packages include:
- The opportunity to discuss all the details of your case, including your eligibility and supporting documents required. For UK visitor visas, it will strengthen your application to include travel documents, employment contracts, birth certificates, current passport details and more.
- Advice on specific visa categories and an assessment of whether the business visitor visa is applicable to your needs.
- A planned time frame moving forward for you to work from.
- Continued support beyond your one-on-one Advice Session. For a week after your session, you’ll be free to get in touch with us with any follow-up questions
At first, it may seem like all you need to do is to visit your local embassy or visa application centre and fill in a few online application forms. Unfortunately, it’s rarely that easy and a lot of visa applications end up being refused by the Home Office because they’re simply not comprehensive enough to meet the minimum standards. Here at the Immigration Advice Service, we understand that you might not have the time to put together a thorough application. That’s why we’re on hand to help provide the advice and assistance you need to get your application sorted with minimum fuss.
If you want us to take some of the weight off your shoulders and to carry out some of your application process for you, we have a fantastic service that will suit your needs. If you choose to use our application package service, we’ll help to fill out your forms and paperwork, assist you in putting together a portfolio of supporting evidence, and provide advice regarding eligibility and visa fees. You’ll receive a one-on-one consultation with a dedicated caseworker who will work alongside you throughout the application process.
With our application package, you’ll benefit from:
- An assessment of your eligibility and suitability for the business visitor visa.
- A thorough plan of action moving forward. Our lawyers are all OISC-regulated and fully qualified – they’ll be able to help you plan ahead.
- Assistance compiling supporting evidence and all the required documentation to make your application a success.
- A Letter of Representation to be sent to the Home Office. Your caseworker will boost your application with a letter that highlights the merits of your case.
- Help completing all the necessary paperwork and application forms.
Fast Track Application Package
If you’re applying for a UK business visitor visa, it might be because you have an urgent appointment in the UK such as an interview, conference or meeting to attend. The team here at the Immigration Advice Service understand that these things can crop up suddenly, so we’re here to support you in getting your application submitted and processed in as little time as possible. You don’t want to miss an important business appointment because of a refused application or a lengthy processing timeframe.
If you can’t afford to spend weeks putting together a thorough application and then wait for it to be processed, IAS has a great service that can help to take the pressure off. If you’re anxious about getting to the UK for a deadline or urgent appointment, our fast track application package will see our immigration lawyers working tirelessly to get your application through as quickly as possible.
In fact, we’ve managed to process applications in as little as 24 hours in the past. We won’t compromise on quality – we’ll just deliver a fast and thorough service that can’t be beaten.
Choose our fast track application package and we’ll get the ball rolling as quickly as possible. This includes:
- Booking a Home Office Same-Day Premium slot on your behalf. This ensures that your application goes to the top of the list and gets processed as a priority.
- Quickly putting your application together. We’ll assist you in completing your business visa application efficiently and thoroughly.
- A Letter of Representation. Addressed to the Home Office, this letter gives your application an extra boost with one of our qualified immigration lawyers championing your case on your behalf.
- An untimed one-on-one Advice Session in which your dedicated caseworker will gather all the information they need to help you push through a strong application.
Unfortunately, refusals for UK business visitor visas are common. UK immigration rules are strict and you need to put forward a strong and comprehensive case to the Home Office in order to be approved. It’s easy to leave important evidence out and include incorrect or mistaken information – especially if you’re in a rush to visit the UK on business. However, the experienced team of OISC-regulated immigration lawyers here at IAS have a lot of experience appealing refused visas – if you’re unhappy with your decision, we can help to assist you in reversing it.
Visa applications always benefit from a strong portfolio of supplementary material and evidence and a lack of this is often the reason for visa refusal. However, when the Home Office sends you a refusal letter, it will outline your eligibility for appeal and offer a required timeline in which to do so. It’s always best to act quickly in these cases. That’s where our appeal package comes in – our immigration lawyers will help you to resolve any issues in your application, strengthen your case and set a plan of action for your appeal. You’ll receive a dedicated caseworker who will guide you throughout the appeal process and, if necessary, represent you in the event of a hearing or tribunal.
Fortunately, a refusal letter from the Home Office does not mean the end of your business bisa application. Our appeal package includes:
- Assessing the reasons for your visa refusal. Your dedicated caseworker will go through your application and highlight any problems, investigating your chances of a successful appeal.
- Strengthening your case wherever possible. Our immigration lawyers will go through the evidence and help you put together a portfolio of supporting documents that increase your chances of appeal success.
- Completing your appeal application for you. The IAS immigration lawyers are all well-experienced and OISC-regulated – they’ll make sure that your application is thorough and is completed to a high standard.
- Representing you in person. Visa appeals often need to go to a hearing or tribunal to be resolved. If you rather not attend yourself, our immigration lawyers will represent you in person on your behalf.
- Liaising with the Home Office throughout the appeal application process. From the moment your appeal begins to the moment it is completed, we’ll maintain communication with the Home Office to make sure things keep moving forward.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
With our untimed Advice Session, our professional immigration lawyers will review your case and provide you with comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated caseworker will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your legal advisor will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
All standard visitor visas share the same visa fees, and this includes the Business Visa. The cost for a six month short term stay UK visa is £95. However, should you wish to apply for one of the long-term visit visas, the cost will depend on the length of time you wish to stay for:
- 2-Year Visa – £361
- 5-Year Visa – £655
- 10-Year Visa – £822
Generally speaking, all standard UK visitor visas, including the business visitor visa, are limited to short term stays of no longer than six months. UK immigration rules also restrict you from using short term visas to make frequent or successive visits, although once you have a business visa, you can enter and leave the UK as many times as you would like within your six month visa. However, there are options that allow you to remain in the UK for longer if you need to.
For instance, long-term visit visas are available. These can be obtained for durations of two years, five years or ten years at an extra cost. These allow you to enter and leave the UK without having to reapply for a new visa in this time. But it’s worth noting that you’re still limited to a maximum stay of six months for each individual visit – you’re not permitted to stay in the UK for long term single visits, even with a long term visit visa. UK immigration rules are very strict on this.
If you’re an academic visitor using the business visa in order to come to the UK for research, it’s possible that you might be able to stay for up to twelve months. For academic visitors from non-EEA regions such as America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America and Australia, it’s possible to apply for a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This will allow you to stay for up to twelve months instead of the usual restriction of six months. It will still be necessary to provide the required documentation proving that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay, and you won’t be able to access public funds while in the UK.
Academic visitors in the UK who choose to stay for longer than six months must still prove that they are highly qualified in their field or industry. You still can’t engage in gainful employment, whether through paid or unpaid work. You’ll need to prove that you’re either carrying out your own research, assisting someone else’s, or taking a temporary and unpaid teaching role in the UK.
If you’ve used the UK business visitor visa to travel to the UK to search for funding or investment, it’s likely that you’re planning to set up a new business in the UK. However, the standard visitor visa (business category included) is a short term visa that only permits you to stay for six months and doesn’t allow you to perform paid or unpaid work while in the UK. If you want to establish a new UK business, you’ll have to take the new innovator route.
Announced by the UK government in April 2019, the tier 1 entrepreneurship visa has been replaced by the tier 1 innovator visa scheme. The new tier 1 innovator visa allows both new and current business owners to either start a new business or move an existing business to the UK. If you’re a current business owner in the United States, China, India, Australia, the Middle East or other non-EEA region and you want to establish yourself in the UK, this is the route for you.
The other main difference between the entrepreneurship visa and the innovator visa is the financial requirement. Before, you needed to prove sufficient funds of £200,000 or more to be eligible, which has since dropped to £50,000. To go ahead with this visa application, you’ll need endorsement and sponsorship from a governing authority. Unlike other visa applications, applying for the tier 1 innovator visa will put your business idea and model under scrutiny. The Home Office will examine and assess your business’s innovation, viability and scalability before making a decision. You’ll also need to meet an English language requirement to at least a B2 level.
If you want further guidance about how best to strengthen your case and give yourself the chance of visa approval, here at IAS we have qualified lawyers experienced in immigration law capable of providing assistance and advice.
If you’ve been invited by and received international payment from a UK business to visit as an expert in your profession, you may be wondering whether the business visitor visa is applicable to you. In fact, there’s a specific visa category that suits your needs – the permitted paid engagement visa. This is a short term visa that allows you to travel with invitation to perform gainful employment in the UK.
Often used by professionals such as academics, performers, researchers and artists, the permitted paid engagement visa allows experts to travel and work in the UK for a short period of time. You may need to provide an invitation letter as part of your visa application. The PPE visa allows you to stay and work in your field for a one month period. If you’re a visiting professor, an overseas scientist or other academic visitor from the United States, South America, Australia, Asia, or other non-EEA regions, the PPE visa will cover you for a one month period of paid or unpaid work.
The permitted paid engagement visa is limited in that it doesn’t allow visitors to bring dependents such as family or friends, receive public funds, or extend their visa beyond the one month period. While staying in the UK under the PPE visa, you are strictly limited to only performing the work in the industry, profession or field for which you have been invited – you can’t undertake any extra work duties while visiting, even if you receive an additional invitation from a UK business. When your visa application forms have been filled in, the visa processing time is concluded and your application has been approved, you’ll receive a clear and definite outline of the work you are allowed to do while visiting the UK.
The exact criteria for applying for the permitted paid engagement visa includes:
You have received an official invitation from a UK-based business, organisation or client. As an expert in a profession such as medicine, dentistry, music, academia, or other similar fields, you may receive a request to visit the UK to perform contract work over a short period of time. This is where a visa application for the PPE visa is applicable. This is an alternative route to being sponsored under the points-based visa system.
You are a foreign visa national from a country outside the EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland. If you receive an invitation to visit and work for a UK-based business and you’re a citizen of a European nation within the single market, you won’t need to apply for the PPE visa. However, if you’re a visa national travelling from a non-EEA country such as the United States, China, India, or Australia to perform contract work and business in the UK, you’re eligible for the PPE visa.
You can prove your eligibility and intent to travel to the UK in your visa application. You can check the PPE visa eligibility requirements on the gov.uk website. These include being over 18, intent to travel and remain in the UK for one month only, being able to prove sufficient funds to support and house yourself, as well as proving that you can pay for both your inward and outward journeys
If you’re a visa national who has recently graduated with an undergraduate degree or postgraduate qualification in business such as finance and accounting, economics, marketing or analytics, you’re probably looking for your next step. If you’ve been studying in the UK under a tier 4 student visa in particular, you might be tempted to try and start a new business in the UK. Fortunately, there’s a specific visa path that is suitable for your needs.
You may be eligible to apply for a visa that allows you a one year window in which to execute your plan and set up a new business. This is called the startup visa, which recently replaced the tier 1 graduate entrepreneur visa and is available to all recent graduates. The visa can also be extended for a year if your plans prove to be a success.
This is a premium route only available to 2,000 candidates each year, so it’s important to make sure that your visa application is as strong as possible. The startup visa also benefits from a zero required investment compared to standard entrepreneur visas. If your application is a success and your new UK-based business does well, you may be able to apply for a tier 1 entrepreneur visa or tier 1 innovator visa in order to extend your stay in the UK. If you’re successful, these visas grant you an extra 3 years to live and work in the UK, nurturing and growing your business.
If you’re planning to visit the UK in order to invest a large sum of money into a UK business, there’s an alternative route to the standard visitor visa (business category). Instead, you can apply for a tier 1 investor visa, which allows you to enter the UK if you’re investing at least £2 million into UK businesses. This is a high-value migration route, meaning that you don’t need to have a job offer or sponsorship. Your visa application will mainly rely on your ability to provide evidence and supporting documents that prove your ability to invest at least the required amount within three months of receiving your visa.
You won’t need to prove any English language ability either, making the tier 1 investor visa a great option for investors, and opens up the possibility of securing British citizenship in the future. With the investor visa, you’re permitted to work and engage in business activities in the UK, with a restriction on property development.You won’t be able to invest in companies engaged in property development or management, and you won’t be able to access public funds while in the UK. You’re eligible for the tier 1 investor visa if you:
- Are aged 16 years or older.
- Want to invest £2 million or more in businesses across the UK.
- You’re a visa national from a non-EEA country such as China, India or the United States.
When putting together your investor visa application, you’ll need to prove you have sufficient funds for investment and that these funds are free to be transferred to the UK.
Unlike the standard visitor visa (business visa), the investor visa is a long term option, allowing you to stay in the UK for a maximum of three years and four months, although this can be extended for an additional two years. After this period, you’ll have the option to settle permanently in the UK with further investment.