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Business Visitors

07 June 2019

Thomas Miles

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An area of Immigration Law that can sometimes be surprisingly damaging for both individuals and companies, is that of Business Visitors.

In the Immigration Law context, a Business Visitor is an individual from a non-EU country, visiting the UK for business purposes. They may be an employee of the same corporate group as the company they are visiting, or it may be that they are visiting clients, suppliers, trade fairs, etc.

Potentially, visitors can stay in the UK for up to 6 months at a time, and therefore visitors will normally receive a stamp in their passport for a 6 month period. However, this can be misleading - because the reality is that a business visitor will find it very difficult to spend a full 6 months in the UK whilst only carrying out the limited activities that are permitted by the Home Office for visitors.

In summary, “Work” is not permitted. This includes:

  • Taking employment

  • Doing work for an organisation or business

  • Establishing or running a business

  • Doing a work placement or internship

  • Direct selling to the public

  • Providing goods and services.

 

However, there are fortunately also a number of expressly permitted activities that they can carry out, including:

  • Attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews

  • Negotiate and sign deals and contracts

  • Attend trade fairs for promotional purposes (no direct selling permitted)

  • Carry out site visits and inspections

  • Gather information for their employment overseas

 

There are also some permitted activities in relation to a specific internal project for corporate groups whose visitor is attending their UK group company. Aand also for internal auditors, amongst other exceptions that we are not listing here.

 

For many companies, the most relevant of the permitted activities may be “attending meetings” and perhaps “negotiating deals” and “carrying out site visits”.

 

What is very important, is that the individual visitor and the business they are visiting, are fully aware of what they are permitted to do - and what they are not permitted to do. In particular, they need to be able to answer a border officer’s questions upon arrival in the UK about what it is they will be doing on a day to day basis. Similarly, if visited by the Home Office, a company needs to be able to explain very clearly what it is that the visitor is doing, showing to the Home Office that their actions fall only within the permitted activities.

 

3HR can provide template visitor invitation letters as well as a template record of visitor attendances, in order to assist you and your visitors in remaining within the Rules - and most importantly, demonstrating this to the Home Office.

If you have any queries or require any assistance with any immigration matter, please contact us using the details below.

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Solicitor/Head of Legal​​

Thomas Miles

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