Business people will be able to do more work-related activities and paid permitted engagements on a Business Visit visa.
In November, the United Kingdom (UK) announced immigration reforms to make doing business in the country more convenient.
UK Home Office Secretary James Cleverly presented the changes to immigration rules at the House of Commons on 7 December 2023.
The new immigration policies add more activities allowed under the Business Visit visa rules. It also moves the Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE) visa under the UK Standard Visit visa.
“By incorporating the provisions of the route into the Standard visitor route, to enable easier switching between PPE activities and the other permitted business activities, and to enable easier travel across the UK border for nationalities eligible to use e-passport gates,” Cleverly said during his speech at the House of Commons.
The UK government looks to implement the policy changes throughout 2024. It will announce the dates and update guidance on the official government website when such changes take effect.
Changes to Business Visit visa and Permitted Paid Engagement routes
The UK’s Standard Visit visa allows individuals to stay in the UK for less than six months. It applies to individuals visiting as tourists, on business, to study, as an academic, and for medical reasons.
However, individuals visiting the UK on business must check what kind of work they can or cannot do under the Standard Business Visit Visa.
Those who plan to engage in paid or unpaid work not listed as allowed activities or extended stays longer than six months in the UK will still require the proper UK visa.
Below are the changes to the Business Visit and PPE visa routes.
Removing restrictions on intra-corporate activities
Business professionals will be able to engage with clients directly. However, this will only be allowed if the client-facing activity is incidental to the visitor’s work while in the UK and does not qualify as outsourcing a project or service to their international employer.
Allowing remote work
The changes to the immigration rules make it clear that travelers will be allowed to work remotely while in the UK. This is provided that their remote work is not the primary purpose of their visit.
Expanding the scope of legal work
There will be more authorized activities in the UK for visiting legal professionals.
Adding more unpaid work activities
Scientists, researchers, and academics will be able to do research in the UK as part of their visit.
Currently, scientists and researchers can only conduct independent research. On the other hand, academics can only do so if they are on sabbatical leave from their home institution.
These changes do not affect academics applying for a 12-month visit visa or applying to extend their stay while already in the UK.
Allowing visiting flight crews in the country
Pilots and cabin crew will be able to travel to the UK as part of the Civil Aviation Authority-approved wet lease arrangement between March and October. This will integrate an existing exception, currently operating outside the regulations, into the visitor rules.
Moving Permitted Paid Engagement under Standard Visit visa route
Speaking at conferences will be added to allowed activities under the PPE. The provisions of PPE visitors will also be moved under the Standard Business Visit visa route.
This means all visitors will be able to do PPE without requiring a separate special visa. Still, those planning to do PPE must have arranged their activity before traveling to the UK and complete it within 30 days of arrival as a visitor.
How the UK ETA will affect immigration policies
The changes to the Standard Business Visit visa and PPE route will make travel easier and more accessible for business people.
Multinational companies will now have the option to send representatives to the UK under the Standard Visit Visa option.
Businesspeople will also be able to do permitted paid engagements under the Standard Visit Visa option.
The Standard Visit option is much more affordable than sponsoring workers under the Senior or Specialist Worker or the PPE route.
Moreover, businesspeople who do not need a visa to travel to the UK for short trips would only need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA).
This is provided that the business professionals’ planned work while in the UK falls under allowed activities. Their stay in the country should also be less than six months.
The ETA for the UK is not a visa but a digital travel permit required of visa-exempt nationals to travel to the UK. It is valid for multiple short stays for tourism, visiting family and friends, study, and business.
The new digital permit system will be fully operational in 2024.