Many people enter the UK each year on a standard visitor visa (business). Many assume that this type of visa allows them to work unrestricted in the UK for a period of time. This is not correct. The standard visitor visa (business) is very restrictive in terms of the activities that can be carried out and length of time individuals are allowed to stay in the UK.
If the applicant is a citizen of a country such as USA, Australia, Canada or New Zealand1 there is no need to obtain a visa in advance of travelling to the UK. Applicants from countries such as India, South Africa, Turkey or Russia1 will need to obtain a visa in advance of travelling to the UK. Please note that applicants are not able to apply for a standard visitor visa (business) from within the UK. This type of visa is obtained by applying to the British Consulate in the applicant’s home country (or country of legal residence).
The purpose of the standard visitor visa (business) is for individuals who work and live overseas to enter the UK for short periods of time (up to a maximum of 6 months) in order to undertake certain “Permissible Activities” which include (but are not limited to):
This is not a definitive list and applicants are advised to take legal advice about whether their activities in the UK will amount to a “Permissible Activity”, particularly as there are certain rules regarding “Permissible Activities” that apply only to specific sectors.
If an individual is carrying out activities which do not fall within the list set out above (or on the relevant website), it is highly likely that an alternative visa will be required.
When entering the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa (Business), there are certain “Dos and Don’ts”.
If a visitor spends more than 183 days in the UK in any one tax year (6 April to 5 April) (which if they did, they would be in breach of the visitor visa (business) rules), they will be deemed to be resident in the UK for tax purposes and will be expected to declare their income in the UK to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The standard visitor visa (business) is quite a restrictive visa. Visitors can only remain in the UK for a maximum of 6 months and can only carry out “Permissible Activities”. Visitors should also be cautious of their tax position especially if they are making frequent trips to the UK. Please also be aware if you enter the UK on a standard visitor visa (business) you cannot switch into any other visa category while you are in the UK.
1 This is not a definitive list and you will need to visit https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa for the full list.
Disclaimer: This note does not contain a full statement of the law and it does not constitute legal advice. Please seek legal advice if you have any questions about the information set out above.