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UK Business Visa - NEW 2021 Requirements & Guide

A short-term UK business visa is a type of standard visit visa that allows non-UK nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to carry out business-related activities in the UK. It offers you the opportunity to enter the United Kingdom and stay here for a maximum period of up to 6 months. The UK immigration offers various types of visas, related to work and business. Therefore, you should be aware of the exact visa that suits your purpose.

Let’s first get into the details of the activities permitted under the short-term business visa.

When Should You Apply for a UK Business Visit Visa?

Here is a detailed overview of the types of travelers who can apply for a short-term UK business visa. We have also outlined the activities that are allowed by this type of entry document.

Employees/ Businessmen/ Entrepreneurs Traveling for Regular Business Purposes, Who Wish to:

● Take part in meetings, seminars, or conferences OR attend interviews

● Give speeches but these talks should not be of commercial nature or generate revenues for the organising party

● Carry out negotiation and finalisation of deals and contracts

● Participate in trade fairs without resorting to direct sales

● Go for site visits and inspections

● Get more information on a prospective employment offer in the UK

● Get the requirements from a customer based in the UK, provided that the required activities related to the project are executed outside the UK

● Carry out intra-corporate activities like consultation, troubleshooting, knowledge dissemination, or training. All these projects must be internal and cannot involve direct interactions with clients

● Perform internal audits in a company that is a branch of the organisation in the visitor’s home country

● Seek investment opportunities for setting up a business in the UK

● Install, break-down, repair, or troubleshoot equipment for a UK-based company that has a lease or contact with a enterprise abroad

● Visit a UK-based export company (as a client) to check the quality/specifications of goods to be delivered to a client based overseas.

Scientists, Researchers, and Academics

● Scientists and researchers can enter the UK on a standard visitor visa to gather information about international projects being executed in the UK

● Academics may visit the UK on a business visa of they wish to partake in formal exchange programs with their UK counterparts

● Academics can also use the visa to undertake research work, provided they have been granted a sabbatical leave from their company in the home country

Medical Professionals, Professors, Witness, and Lawyers

● Doctors or dentists can use a business visa to carry out related research, teach, or practice, provided the post is not permanent

● Certified witnesses can apply for a business visa to provide evidence in a UK-based court

● Foreign lawyers can also use the business visa to advise clients in the UK

● Religious professionals may use the business visa to carry out preaching or pastoral activities

● Foreign professors can apply for a business visa if they accompany students to the UK as part of a study abroad programme. They can also resort to temporary teaching activities while ensuring that they do not take up any permanent teaching post.

Artists, Musicians, Media Personnel, and Performers

● Artists, entertainers, or musicians can perform, give auditions, partake in competitions, be a part of promotional activities, partake in cultural events or festivals (that do not need a permit) on a business visa

● Technical staff, members of the production team, film crew can also accompany artists using business visas

● Translator or interpreters can accompany business persons on a business visa

● Journalists, correspondents, producers, cameramen, archaeologists may also be permitted to enter the UK on a business visa, provided they meet the requirements as listed under theVisitor Rules on the Gov.UK website.

Unpaid Work-Related Activities and Training Granted by a Business Visa

● Foreign medical, dental or nursing graduates are allowed to take up UNPAID clinical attachments or dental observer posts. They cannot treat patients using this visa.

● Visitors can use a business visa to appear for exams like Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test and Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE).

● Overseas employees can also avail training from a UK-based company provided these facilities are not available in their company in the home country.

● Foreign employees can give training to employees of a UK-based company only if the trainer belongs to the foreign business, under contract to deliver global training to the UK based company.

Documentation Requirements

The document list for a business visa can be extensive, depending on the actual purpose of visit. However here’s a rundown of the major documentation requirements:

● A passport which is valid for the entire intended stay duration in the UK. It should have a minimum of one blank page.

● A print of your filled application form, accompanied by two passport-sized photographs

● Return or onward tickets to prove that you intend to leave the UK after your purpose of visit is complete

● A record of your immigration and details of your travel history within the past ten years.

● Financial details in the form of bank statements or an employment letter. If your trip is being sponsored by a UK-based company, they need to prove that they have the sufficient resources to do so.

● Proof of employment or education in the form of a letter from your employer, school or university. Self-employed visitors can submit details of their own business,such as registration paperwork.

● Proof of activities to be carried out in the UK. You can submit an official letter confirming your meetings or business appointments in the UK and a letter of invitation from the inviting organisation

● If you are traveling for work related training, you need to submit the details of the said program

● If you are planning to become an entrepreneur in the UK, you require to present a letter of support from a registered venture capitalist firm, a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition, or a UK government department.

NOTE: Any documents which are not originally in English or Welsh have to be translated and should contain the translator’s contact information.

Again, this list of documents is not exhaustive. You might be asked to submit additional documents if the officials need more information about tour travel purposes.

Application Process

Step 1: Check your eligibility

To apply for a UK business visa, you will first need to check your eligibility. This depends on your country of origin and your intended purpose of visit. You can check if you need a visa or not by visiting thislink.

Step 2: Fill the application form

Now, if you do need a visa, you will first need to start the processonline. Once you register, create an account, and begin the application, you will be asked to enter the language in which you will fill the form and choose your country of origin. Following these steps, you must check this box: “I have checked available biometric enrolment locations and can travel to a location in my selected country. If no location is available in that country, then I confirm that I can travel to a location in the redirected country.”

While filling the application, keep all the documents and dates handy. For instance, you will need a valid passport or a travel document, with enough space for officials to stamp the visa. The online application will ask you to fill the fields, depending on your reason for coming to the UK. This can be details of the planned activities, travel dates, expected costs, accommodation details, home address and information about your parents, financial and employment information, travel history, family data etc. Once you finish entering the details, you will need to pay your visa fee online.

NOTE: You will not be able to change your country of application after you have submitted your application.

Step 3: Book an Appointment and Submit Your Biometrics

Now, take a print of the completed form and book an appointment at the nearest visa application centre. Visit the center on the required date, submit your fingerprints and photograph. The officials will take a digital photo of your face and put your fingers on a glass screen to be scanned. Remember to carry both the original and a photocopy of all supporting documentation during this visit.

Step 4: Receive Your Visa

Once you have completed the above three steps, you will get a letter with the result of your application, which will also outline the next steps. If your application is successful, you will receive a sticker, called a vignette, stamped on your passport. If your visa is denied, you will get a letter explaining the reasons of refusal, accompanied by your passport.

Business Visitor Visa: Validity, Extension & Processing Time

As we already mentioned, a business visitor visa is valid for and allows a stay up to six months. But you can also get a standard visit visa for up to 12 months if you are entering the UK as an academic. However, you can also apply for an extension. But if your visit is for a longer period, the best bet is to go for a long-term UK visa -- which allows stays up to two years, five years or ten years. Academic visitors can also lodge an application for a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). For more details on these categories of visas, you can visit our section on long-term entry permits.

When you apply for a business visitor visa online, it usually takes up to three weeks to get a decision on your visa application. We would recommend you to start the process within three months from your intended travel dates. The standard cost of a short-term business visa is £95.

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