New rules for business
visitors from 31 January
1 February 2024
In a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules published in December, the Home Office set out a number of changes to the UK’s visitor visa rules, which came into effect yesterday, 31 January 2024.
The changes will make it easier for foreign visitors to carry out certain business related activities in the UK without requiring a work visa. The relaxed rules remove previous restrictions on carrying out client-facing work and expand the list of permitted activities for visitors.
The updated guidance for visitors can be viewed in full in ‘Appendix V: Visitor’ of the Immigration Rules. Below is a summary of the key changes being implemented from today.
The list of permitted activities for business visitors has been amended to remove the prohibition on working directly with clients.
The new guidance states that an employee of an overseas based company may:
- Advise and consult
- Provide training
- Share skills and knowledge on a specific internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group.
An employee of an overseas based company is now permitted to carry out the above activities directly with clients, providing:
- The employee’s movement is in an intra-corporate setting and any client facing activity is incidental to their employment abroad; and
- These activities are required for the delivery of a project or service by the UK branch of the Visitor’s employer overseas, and are not part of a project or service that is being delivered directly to the UK client by the Visitor’s employer overseas.
Wider coverage for the legal sector
The list of permitted activities has been expanded to provide greater coverage for the legal sector.
The new guidance states that an overseas lawyer may provide legal services, including:
- Appearing in arbitrations
- Acting as an arbitrator or mediator
- Acting as an expert witness
- Appearing in court in jurisdictions which allow short term call or where qualified in that jurisdiction
- Conferences or teaching
- Providing advocacy for a court or tribunal hearing
- Transactional legal services, including drafting contracts.
The rules have been updated to make it clear that visitors are permitted to work remotely whilst they are in the UK, but that remote working must not be the primary purpose of their visit.
The relaxation of these rules recognises changing work patterns, and could open the door for more foreign nationals to enjoy so-called ‘work-cations’ in the UK.
Permitted Paid Engagements
From 31 January, the Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) visa has been abolished and its provisions are being incorporated into the Standard Visitor visa rules.
This means that all visitors will be able to undertake permitted paid engagements without the need for a special visa. However, visitors must still have arranged this activity prior to travel to the UK and this must be undertaken within 30 days of arrival in the UK as a visitor.
The following are permitted paid engagements:
- An academic who is highly qualified within their field of expertise, coming to examine students and/or participate in or chair selection panels, and have been invited by a UK higher education institution, or a UK-based research or arts organisation as part of that institution or organisation’s quality assurance processes.
- An expert coming to give lectures in their subject area, where they have been invited by a higher education institution, or a UK-based research or arts organisation, and this does not amount to filling a teaching position for the host organisation.
- An overseas designated pilot examiner coming to assess UK-based pilots to ensure they meet the national aviation regulatory requirements of other countries, where they have been invited by an approved training organisation based in the UK that is regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority for that purpose.
- A qualified lawyer coming to provide advocacy for a court or tribunal hearing, arbitration or other form of dispute resolution for legal proceedings within the UK, where they have been invited by a client.
- A professional artist, entertainer, or musician coming to carry out an activity directly relating to their profession, where they have been invited by a creative (arts or entertainment) organisation, agent or broadcaster based in the UK.
- A Professional Sportsperson coming to carry out an activity directly relating to their profession, where they have been invited by a sports organisation, agent, or broadcaster based in the UK.
- A speaker coming to the UK to give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches, where they have been invited to a conference or other event.
Speak to a UK immigration advisor
If you need advice and support with applying for a UK visit visa, Smith Stone Walters can help. To find out more about our UK immigration services, please contact us today.