Following a change in the UK Immigration Rules, visitor visa permissible activities are to be relaxed from 31 January 2024 as follows:
- Individuals can undertake activities relating to their employment overseas remotely from within the UK, providing this is not the primary purpose of their visit.
- An employee of an overseas based company may: (a) advise and consult; and (b) troubleshoot; and (c) provide training; and (d) share skills and knowledge; on a specific internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group.
- An employee of an overseas based company may also undertake the activities in directly with clients, providing: (a) the employee’s movement is in an intra-corporate setting and any client facing activity is incidental to their employment abroad; and (b) these activities are required for the delivery of a project or service by the UK branch of the Visitor’s employer overseas, and are not part of a project or service that is being delivered directly to the UK client by the Visitor’s employer overseas.
- Academics, scientists, and researchers may: (a) take part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts (including doctors); and (b) collaborate, gather information and facts, or conduct research, either for a specific project which directly relates to their employment overseas, or independently; and (c) if they are an eminent senior doctor or dentist, take part in research, teaching or clinical practice, provided this does not amount to filling a permanent teaching post.
- An overseas lawyer may provide legal services including: (a) advice; and (b) appearing in arbitrations; and (c) acting as an arbitrator or mediator; and (d) acting as an expert witness; and (e) appearing in court in jurisdictions which allow short term call or where qualified in that jurisdiction; and (f) conferences, teaching; and (g) providing advocacy for a court or tribunal hearing; and (h) litigation; and (i) transactional legal services, including drafting contracts.
- Permitted Paid Engagements – A Visitor may undertake the permitted paid engagements, providing they are completed within 30 days of the Visitor’s entry to the UK, and the requirements of V 13.1. to V 13.2. are met.
Impact of the new rules for visitors to the UK
The new rules have the potential to benefit visitors to the UK in the following ways:
Business travelers employed abroad benefit from simplified regulations for intra-corporate activities. They can now interact directly with clients on behalf of their overseas group company, provided this activity is incidental to their main overseas role and does not constitute offshoring of services.
Researchers & academics
The revised rules provide welcome clarification of permitted activities for foreign national academics, scientists and researchers, who can now engage in activities directly related to their research project, collaborate with UK-based counterparts and receive funding for their research while in the UK.
Permitted paid engagements
Speakers at conferences and events can now be paid for their expertise, removing the need for a separate Permitted Paid Engagement visa. This is intended to simplify the visa rules and encourage overseas participation in UK-based events, conferences and workshops.
The updated rules now formally allow oversea lawyers to carry out advocacy, dispute resolution work and take an active role in the preparation of hearings in the UK. This formalises existing guidance and is in addition to the existing rules which allow overseas lawyers to advise UK-based clients on specific international litigation and/or an international transactions under the visitor route.
Overseas lawyers or legal professionals will also be allowed to appear in arbitrations, acting as an arbitrator or mediator; appear in court where the relevant jurisdiction allows this; teaching and conferences.
Under the relaxed rules, visitors can now work remotely while in the UK, provided this is not their primary purpose of visit and the activity does not involve directly engaging with clients in the UK. In practical terms, this means foreign entrepreneurs and remote workers will be allowed to combine leisure with their professional pursuits while visiting the UK.
Youth mobility expansion
The Youth Mobility Scheme is being extended to include qualifying nationals from Uruguay.
Additionally, Australian and Canadian participants can extend their visas by up to a year, allowing for longer stays and enhanced cultural immersion.
It will be important to be clear before you travel to the UK as a visitor that your intended activities are permissible and if not, that you secure the relevant permission, such as a work or family visa.
For specialist advice on the upcoming changes and how they could impact your business or travel plans, contact us.
Last updated: 13 December 2023