The UK is a global business centre and every year people travel from all over the world to do business here. Different rules apply to people who are ordinarily resident and work abroad but wish to visit the UK on business, than to those who work in the UK full-time or set up a business here.
A list of all countries whose citizens require a visa to visit the UK is available from the UK Border Agency.
Definition of Business Visitors
Foreign nationals who will be classified business visitors include people who visit the UK:
- To attend a trade fair, seminar, meeting or conference;
- To attend a job interview;
- To purchase, deliver or examine goods;
- To negotiate or sign contracts or agreements;
People travelling to the UK on a business visitor’s visa will not be able to stay in the UK for longer than six months.
Additional Requirements for Business Visitors to the UK
Business visitors to the UK have to pass the same test as all visa applicants to the UK but will also have to satisfy additional requirements in order to obtain their visa. In particular they will have to prove that:
- They are resident and work abroad and do not intend to settle in the UK; and,
- They do not intend to provide services or produce goods whilst they are in the UK.
Under the entry rules visitors will still be classified as business visitors if, for example, they come to the UK to speak at a one-off conference or to attend a job interview for UK employment.
Applying for a UK Visa as a Business Visitor
The application for a business visitor’s visa is made on the same form as a standard visitor’s visa application: the Visitor Form (VAF1). In some cases it may be possible to apply online. Business visitors will have to provide the following information about their proposed visit:
- The purpose of their visit to the UK;
- The name, address and a description of the business or organisation they will be visiting whilst they are in the UK;
- The address where they will be staying whilst they are in the UK.
Business Visitors with Family in the UK
An applicant for a business visitor’s visa who has family in the UK will have to declare this on the application form. If a business visitor intends to visit family members whilst in the UK this will also have to be declared and the Family Visitor part of the form will have to be filled in. This section requires applicants to provide full details of all close family members in the UK, including the employment status of any family members the visitor intends to stay with.
Finance and Employment Details
As with all applicants for visitor visas to the UK, business visitors must provide full details of their employment, income and savings to show that they are able to provide for themselves financially whilst they are in the UK.
Completing the Application
As well as filling in the application form, visitor visa applicants will also have to:
- Provide a valid passport or other travel document;
- Provide a photograph of themselves which complies with the UK Border Agency’s requirements;
- Provide any necessary supporting documents – such as evidence of the business or organisation who invited the applicant to the UK and documents to prove their income and employment status;
- Pay the fee for the application – since 30 June 2008 this has been £65 for a single business visitor visa.
Regular Business Visitors to the UK
Those who regularly travel to the UK on business can apply for a long-term visa which allows multiple entries into the UK during the visa’s validity. These visas contain the applicant’s biometric information and cost £205.