Short-term business visas:
everything you
need to know

In the past, visitors to the UK used to have to work out which one out of 15 different types of immigration routes would be appropriate for them.

So in April 2015, the government introduced a simplified version of this entry system, streamlining the types available for short-term visitors to just four. While the requirement for entering the UK remained the same, these amendments were designed to make the system easier for travellers to understand.

The rule changes also tightened up any areas that the government were concerned were open to misuse, while ensuring that the UK was seen to be ‘open for business’.

Certain overseas nationals (check here) need a visa in advance of travel to the UK as a visitor. ‘Visa nationals’ seeking to enter the UK on business should apply for a Standard Visitor visa.

Here is our guide to getting it right:

How much does it cost?

  • a Standard Visitor visa costs £93
  • the fee for a long-term visa depends on its length, eg £350 for two years, £636 for five years, £798 for 10 years.

What you can do

You should apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you wish to undertake business-related activities, for example:

  • you’re coming to the UK for a conference, meeting or training
  • you want to take part in a specific sports-related event
  • you’re an artist, entertainer or musician and coming to the UK to perform
  • you are an academic and are doing research or accompanying students on a study abroad programme
  • you’re a doctor or dentist and are coming to the UK to take a clinical attachment or observer post

What you can’t do

  • paid or unpaid work
  • live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
  • get public funds.

How long you can stay?

  • you can usually stay in the UK for up to six months.

You must be able to show that

  • you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit
  • you can support yourself and any dependents for the duration of your trip
  • you can pay for your return or onward journey and any other costs relating to your visit
  • you have proof of any business or other activities you want to do in the UK, as allowed by the visitor rules.

What documents must you provide?

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • you need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa. Your passport must be valid for the whole of your stay in the UK
  • you’ll also need to provide a certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh.

You might need to provide additional documents if you’re visiting the UK

  • as an academic on sabbatical and want to stay for 12 months
  • as a prospective entrepreneur.

How long it will take?

  • the earliest you can apply is three months before you travel
  • you should get a decision on your visa within three weeks.

What about if you need to visit the UK regularly?

  • you can apply for a long-term Standard Visitor visa that lasts two, five or 10 years. You can stay for a maximum of six months on each visit.

How Smith Stone Walters can help

Smith Stone Walters understands the complexity of UK immigration processes, the legal requirements and the issues that cause problems. Our bespoke Immigration Service is tailored to meet your business needs and budget while helping you to avoid the potential of incurring penalties. We have the answers here.



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