Delivering its promise to support the business sector, the United Kingdom (UK) plans to simplify and expand its Business Visitor Visa.
In its Autumn Statement released on 22 November 2023, the government outlined the proposed immigration reforms to make doing business in the UK more convenient.
In 2024, the UK Business Visitor Visa will offer a broader scope of permitted activities and paid engagements for businesspeople in a corporate setting.
The proposed changes will also expand the coverage of the legal services sector.
“It is vital that businesses can access the talent they need,” read the Statement on the reason behind the proposed changes.
With the new Business Visitor Visa updates, multinational companies may be able to send representatives to the country under the visit visa option.
The visit visa option is significantly more affordable than sponsoring workers under the Senior or Specialist Worker visa.
UK’s Business Visitor Visa
The UK government has yet to disclose specific details on the upcoming revisions.
The Business Visitor visa is designed for individuals coming to the country for short-term business activities. It allows the holder to stay in the UK for up to six months.
The activities a UK Business Visitor visa holder may engage in include the following:
- Attend meetings, conferences, and trade fairs.
- Negotiate and sign contracts.
- Explore business opportunities.
- Receive work-related training when unavailable in the holder’s home country.
- Give non-profit talks.
- Conduct site visits and inspections.
- Oversee deliveries of a UK company to an overseas company or organization.
- Provide training or share knowledge with UK employees of the overseas company.
- Provide equipment-related services, computer software, and hardware for overseas companies that hold a contract with a UK-based organization.
UK Business Visitor Visa holders are not allowed to engage in any paid or unpaid work as self-employed individuals. For that, they would need a UK work visa.
UK ETA for short-term business trips
Individuals traveling to the UK for short-term business must first check if they need a UK visa to visit the country. Some foreign nationals may be allowed to do short-term business without a visa.
In 2024, the UK government expects that all foreign nationals who do not need a visa for short-term visits to the UK will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA).
The UK ETA is not a visa but a digital travel permit that allows the government to track and pre-screen visitors before they arrive in the UK. It aims to make travel more convenient and safe.
It is valid for multiple short trips, each up to six months, within the ETA’s two-year validity.
However, if an individual needs a visa to visit the UK for short trips, they must first meet the standard visitor visa eligibility requirements.
These include having a genuine intention to visit for business purposes, leaving the UK at the end of your visit, and sufficient funds to cover their entire stay in the UK and their return journey home.
Changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme
The UK government’s 2023 Autumn Statement also outlined changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) visa.
The YMS visa allows young people aged 18 to 30 (or 18 to 35 for New Zealand applicants) to live and work in the UK for up to two years without sponsorship from an employer.
This year, the UK government increased YMS places with Australia and Canada by 7,000. For 2024, it will add 9,100 places through new agreements with Japan and South Korea.
In 2023, the government expanded eligibility and length of stay for participants from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
The YMS will also offer more opportunities for young people to live, work, travel abroad, and experience new cultures.