UK Business Visitor Visa
The UK business visitor visa is for Non-EEA business people who need to travel to the UK for certain limited business activities. Many companies and their employees prefer this visa as it is easier to apply for than some other business visas. However, it is a restrictive visa with particular rules on what is allowed, and border officials can, and will, deny entry to the UK if they do not believe conditions have been, or will be, met.
It is important to apply for the right business visa and to know what you can and can not do before you travel. Optimus Law are expert immigration lawyers who are happy to help with your application process and to answer your questions.
While some visitors from other countries can come to the UK and apply for entry at the border, visitors from Non-EEA countries will need a visa. The business visitor visa is part of the ‘standard visa’ route into the UK and is known as a standard visitor visa.
Since the UK left the EU, visitors from the EU, Switzerland and from the EEA can enter the UK for up to six months for certain business activities without needing a visa.
This visa will not give you free reign on business activities during your stay. You must carefully check the rules on what you are allowed to do before travelling.
You can travel to the UK for what is considered a short term stay. This will usually be for no longer than six months.
During that time, you are allowed to take part in certain business, or business-related, activities, as below:
- Take Exams
If you are thinking of moving to the UK to stay and work in a profession, such as dentistry, you can use the business visitor visa to take any exams you might need before you apply to stay permanently.
- Research or Accompany Students
You can come to the UK on this visa if you are accompanying students taking part in a study abroad programme. You can also visit to undertake academic research or unpaid academic work.
- Secure Funding
If you are planning to start a business in the UK, or to join or take over an existing one, you can visit to search for and secure the right funding for your business ventures.
- Meeting with UK Customers
You can meet with your UK customers to discuss their needs and receive briefings.
- Perform necessary Site Visits
With some projects, it is impossible to perform the work without visiting and inspecting the site in person. Your business visitor visa will allow you to assess and evaluate the site and perform inspections.
- Negotiate Deals
You can negotiate contracts and deals under this visa, either for your employer or for yourself, including agreeing to go ahead and signing the deal.
- Business Research
You are allowed to do market research and look at industry and technological information. It is also permitted to check into goods and services available in the UK for business purposes.
- Business Appointments
You are allowed to attend interviews, meetings, training, seminars and conferences on this visa.
- Trade Shows
This is a slightly tricky one as you are allowed to attend trade shows and promote your business, but you are not allowed to sell directly at the trade show or to make a profit.
- Speaking Engagements
You can give a series of talks or a one-off lecture during your stay, as long as you are not paid, and the organiser does not make a profit.
- Sharing Knowledge
You can provide training or give consultations and advice. You can also share advice and knowledge on projects with colleagues from the same company or group, as long as you do not work directly with clients.
- Internal Audits
If you have a UK branch of your company, you are permitted to carry out financial or regulatory audits.
If there are other business activities you would like to take part in during your stay, you should check with a qualified immigration lawyer, such as Optimus Law, before you travel.
The UK business visitor visa is only for very specific business activities and you should check to see if it is the right visa for what you want to accomplish during your visit. There is a range of other business visas that you can apply for, which a specialist immigration lawyer can advise you on.
You should be aware before you travel that the following activities are not allowed on the business visitor visa:
- No Paid or Unpaid Work
You cannot take a job or do any work during your stay, even working as an unpaid volunteer. This includes direct selling, internships and placements, temporary cover, and setting up or running your own business as self-employed. You cannot receive any form of payment for your goods or services during your stay.
- Overstaying Your Visa
You can only stay in the UK for up to six months, generally, and you should be aware that you will need a visa for further visits.
- Living and working in the UK
Your visa is not designed to allow you to live long term in the UK, or to work.
- Public Funds
You cannot take UK government funding during your stay, including grants, benefits, or bursaries.
With your UK business visa, you are also not allowed to study in the UK, to marry or undertake a civil partnership, or to have any medical treatment unless you use private healthcare.
Again, before you travel, double-check that you can do the business activities you need to do on this visa.
The earliest you can apply for a business visitor visa is three months before you travel, and the latest you can apply is 48 hours before.
As with most things, it is better to apply sooner rather than later.
You can apply through your local embassy or online, and you should expect to get a reply to your application after around three weeks.
However, if you have an urgent appointment in the UK, such as a speaking engagement or interview, you can choose a priority service and pay extra to have your visa granted sooner.
- Priority Service
With this service, you should get your visa within 5 working days of your application. However, this service is not available in every country, so do check in plenty of time with your local application centre.
- Super Priority Service
While we wish we could tell you that a superhero would deliver your visa in person with this service, what you actually get is your visa approved (as long as you meet the criteria, of course) in 24 hours. There is an extra cost with this service, but it can be worth it, depending on when and why you need to travel.
Again, do check that this service is available in your country, well before your travel date.
These are the criteria to satisfy on applying for the UK business visitor visa:
- Genuine Visitor
The Entry Clearance Officer is looking for specific things when assessing your application:
- They need to be sure that you will leave the UK when your visit is over, and that you are not trying to remain and live in the UK.
- That you are visiting the UK for an allowed purpose.
- That you have enough funds available to cover the full cost of your stay.
- That you can afford your travel to the UK and out again.
- That you will stick to the rules and not participate in any activities that are not allowed.
- Sufficient Resources For Your Stay
You must show either:
- That you have enough money to cover all your costs during your stay, including accommodation, food, travel, and expenses. Or,
- Under particular circumstances, that you have a third party willing and able to cover your costs for you. This third party must have a real professional or personal relationship with you, such as a family member or your employer’s UK branch. They must also be legally allowed to be in the UK at the time of your visit.
Your Entry Clearance Officer will look at previous visits and various other criteria to determine if you are a genuine visitor.
They will look at:
- Your finances, background and family.
- Your previous travel history, both to the UK and to other countries.
- How long you have stayed in the UK previously, and whether you have stayed longer than your visa allowed, or than you stated you would stay on arrival.
- The total amount of time you have spent in the UK and what your last twelve months of travel look like.
- Whether you have good ties to your country of residence.
- What the situation is in your country of residence, including the security situation and if it is politically and economically stable.
The documentation required to support your visa application is designed to show that you meet the above criteria.
You will need to be able to prove:
- That you do intend to return to your country of residence at the end of your stay.
- That you can afford your travel to the UK and back to your home.
- That you have proof of all the business activities you will be undertaking during your stay.
- That you can afford to support yourself fully during your stay, without needing to use public funds.
Those documentation requirements are not very specific so we have compiled a list of items you may need to provide:
- Your current passport or ID, with a certified translation if you have not provided it in English or Welsh.
- Travel documents to prove the length of your stay.
- Your immigration record and details of all the travel you have undertaken during the last ten years.
- Your current address and contact details
- Your parents’ details, including names and dates of birth and, if you have one, you will need to provide the details and passport number of your partner.
- The details of where you will be staying in the UK.
- An estimate of how much your visit will cost, along with proof that you can afford to support yourself, and that you have enough funds for the trip to and from the UK. Or a written confirmation from a third party that they will be supporting you for the whole of the trip, and that they have the funds to do so.
- Details of your overseas company or employer.
- Details of any criminal convictions, particularly anything related to immigration.
This is not a comprehensive list and you may need other proof and documentation to support your application. If you need help with your application, you can contact Optimus Law.
According to the UK government, a standard visitor visa currently costs £95.00.
If you need to visit the UK frequently for business, you may need to look into getting a standard visitor visa for a longer period, and the costs are below:
- For 2 years, you can expect to pay £361.00
- For 5 years, the cost is £655.00
- For 10 years, you will pay £822.00
How long can I stay in the UK on a business visitor visa?
Usually, you will only be allowed to stay for up to six months
Before you apply, you should note that a successful application for a UK business visitor visa is not a guarantee that you will be allowed to enter the UK.
Border officials are entitled to question you under this type of visa, and they will make the final decision on entry when you arrive in the UK. They can still refuse entry if they are not convinced that you are a genuine visitor, or if they suspect that you are going to engage in any prohibited activities, including taking paid work or attempting to remain and live in the UK.
To apply for a UK business visitor visa, you must do so while you are still outside the UK. You cannot apply for this visa once you have arrived in the UK.
You can apply for your business visa up to three months before you travel and up to 48 hours before you make the trip, but do be aware that processing your application can take several weeks, so it is better to apply as soon as possible.
Check with your local embassy or centre to see how long your application is likely to take as it can vary from country to country. You should also check any options in your country, such as priority applications, to see if they are available.
You will need to complete a visa application either online or at your local embassy or immigration centre. You will also need to pay your application fee at that point.
If you look at our section on what documentation is required, you will see that you need to provide a long list of supporting documentation with your application, as well as a valid passport or ID and travel documents. In some countries, you may also need to supply biometric information, such as a digital photograph and your fingerprints.
Usually, you will hear if your application is successful within 3 weeks.
If your visa application is approved, you should be able to stay in the UK for around six months.
Looking at what is involved in applying for a business visitor visa, you can see that it is not always a straightforward or easy process. Optimus Law is on hand to help you with any questions you might have and to support you during your application. Please contact us if you need help.
It is not possible to apply for a business visitor visa and then to switch to another type of visa.
However, you can apply to extend your current business visa as long as your total visit would not last for more than six months. You must also apply before your current visa expires.
If you would like to stay in the UK for longer than six months, you can only extend your visa under certain circumstances:
- If you are a patient receiving private medical treatment that is ongoing, providing you have paid any current bills and can afford to pay for the rest of your treatment.
- If you are an academic visiting the UK and you can still show that you meet the eligibility criteria.
- You may also be able to extend your visa if you are a graduate student on clinical attachment, or if you are taking, or retaking, the PLAB test – the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board.
There are a lot of rules around what business visitors to the UK can and can not do during their stay. It can also be complicated to choose the right visa and navigate an application on your own. If you have any questions or need help with your application, please get in touch with Optimus Law for a free assessment.
You are eligible to apply for the Family Reunion Visa if you are living in the home country of your family member who has been granted asylum in the UK.
For a successful application, there has to be evidence of your relationship (such as birth certificates, identification cards, or marriage certificate) with the family member in the UK who has been granted asylum in the UK. In cases, where this evidence cannot be provided, DNA testing, witness statements, and wedding photographs can be provided.
If your parents are unable to support themselves financially, they can apply for a Dependent visa. While parents do not typically qualify for this visa category, it is possible under the ‘family exceptional circumstances guidance’ for a parent to join their child refugee in the UK.
For your partner or spouse to join you with a Family Reunion visa, they have to provide proof of the marriage such as a marriage certificate. If partners are not married, your partner needs proof that the relationship has lasted for two years or more.
At Optimus Law, we understand the importance of family. As such, we will do our best to ensure you are reunited with your child or spouse.
Our team of expert immigration lawyers will provide you with outstanding personalized legal service because every case is unique. Our dependable immigration team will ensure you choose the right approach to ensure that your chances are good.
- We will prepare for you a solid case with the needed documentary evidence
- To ensure you comprehend the entire application process, an experienced lawyer will assist you to fill out your visa application, by taking you through the entire application form
- We will also create for you a strong cover letter to accompany your application
- We will liaise and communicate with the Home Office to ensure your application is on course until a decision is made
- We will ensure you understand the implication of the decision, as well as advising you on your next course of action
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