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Business visitors

Business and special visitors

Who can apply as a business visitor?

  • You will only need permission to come (known as 'entry clearance' or 'a visa') to the United Kingdom for a business visit of up to six months if you are a visa national.
  • If you a non-visa national, permission to come for up to six months is not needed as a business visitor.
  • If you are an academic visitor and want to come for more than six months you will need permission to come whatever nationality you are.
  • Multiple entry visas are available for business visitors for six months, and one, two, five and 10 years

How to come to the United Kingdom as a business visitor

This section explains how you can come to the United Kingdom as a business visitor:

  • To come to the United Kingdom as a business visitor you must be able to show that you: 
  • only want to visit the United Kingdom for up to six months;
  • plan to leave the United Kingdom at the end of your visit;
  • have enough money to support and accommodate yourself without working,  help from public funds or you will be supported and accommodated by relatives or friends;
  • do not intend to charge members of the public for services provided or goods received;
  • do not intend to study;
  • can meet the cost of the return or onward journey;
  • are based abroad and have no intention of transferring your base to the United Kingdom even temporarily;
  • receive your salary from abroad.

You must also show that you plan to do one or more of the permissible activities which include:

  • attending meetings, including interviews that have been arranged before coming to the United Kingdom, or conferences;
  • arranging deals or negotiating or signing trade agreements or contracts;
  • undertaking fact finding missions; 
  • conducting site visits;
  • delivering goods and passengers from abroad such as lorry drivers and coach drivers provided they are genuinely working an international  route;
  • tour group couriers who are contracted to a firm outside the United Kingdom, who are seeking entry to accompany a tour group and who intend to leave with that tour group;
  • speaking at a conference where this is not run as a commercial concern and the conference is a 'one of';
  • representing computer software companies by coming to install, debug or enhance their products. Representatives of such companies may also be admitted as business visitors in order to be briefed as to the requirements of a United Kingdom customer but if they are to provide a service involving the use of their expertise to make a detailed assessment of a potential customer's requirements this should be regarded as consultancy work for which entry under the points-based system would be required; 
  • representing foreign manufacturers by coming to service or repair their company's products within their initial period of guarantee; 
    representing foreign machine manufacturers by coming to erect and install machinery too heavy to be delivered in one piece, as part of the contract of purchase and supply;
  • interpreting or translating for visiting business persons, provided the interpreter/translator is employed by the overseas company and is coming solely to provide this service for the visiting company member.
  • monteurs - workers, for example fitters or servicepersons coming for up to six months to erect, dismantle, install, service, repair or advise on the development of foreign-made machinery; 
  • board-level Directors attending board meetings in the United Kingdom provided they are not employed by a United Kingdom company, although they may be paid a fee for attending the meeting.

Others who are business visitors

Business visitors include:

  • Academic visitors (may enter or stay for twelve months maximum, subject to entry clearance if over 12 months).
  • Doctors taking the professional and linguistic assessment board (PLAB)
  • Doctors coming for clinical attachment or dentists coming for observation
  • Visiting professors accompanying students undertaking study abroad programmes. Film crews on location shoots only, provided they are employed or paid by an overseas company.
  • Representatives of overseas news media provided they are employed or paid by an overseas company and are gathering information for an overseas publication or programme.
  • Secondees from overseas companies.
  • Religious workers undertaking some preaching or pastoral work during a business visit (eg to attend a conference), provided their base is abroad and they are not taking up an office, post or appointment.   
  • Interpreters and translators employed by an overseas company who are coming to the UK solely to accompany and provide a service to business visitors from the company.
  • Advisers, consultants, trainers or trouble shooters employed abroad by the same company to which the client firm in the UK belongs, provided this does not amount to employment paid or unpaid for the UK branch;
  • Persons undertaking specific, one-off training in techniques and work practices used in the UK, provided this is not on-the-job training.

Can I extend my stay as a business visitor?

The maximum time that you can spend in the United Kingdom at any one time as a business visitor is six months - unless you are an academic visitor.  If you were granted three months leave to enter when you arrived (this will be stamped in your passport) you may apply for an extension as long as your stay would not go beyond six months in total.

Can I switch into another category while I am in the United Kingdom as a business visitor?

You are not allowed to change into any category for which permission to come under the points- based system is needed. You may do activities of sports or entertainer visitor as well as business visitor activities.

Can my dependants come to the United Kingdom?

If you are coming to the United Kingdom as a business visitor, your dependants can also come for up to six months.  Your dependants are a wife, husband, civil partner, same sex partner, unmarried partner and child under the age of 18 years old.

Your dependants may need permission to come (known as 'entry clearance') before they come.

Can I appeal if I am refused leave to enter as a business visitor?

If we refuse your application, the entry clearance officer or the immigration officer will tell you in writing why you have been refused.


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