Can visitors work in the UK without a visa?
Prior to Brexit workers could move freely between EU premises and the UK now, any non British workers without the right to work in the UK must obtain…
Post-Brexit, we have seen an increase in enquiries from employers seeking advice on bringing non-UK based workers to the UK for a short time, without the need for sponsorship. Pre-Brexit, European workers could freely move between EU branches and premises in the UK. Now, any non-British workers who do not currently have a right to work in the UK must obtain the required immigration permission.
Individuals are permitted to do some limited ‘work’ on a Visitor Visa (which for many is granted on entry to the UK without the need to apply).
Permitted Business Activities
In brief, if a worker does not have a right to work in the UK, then there are some limited business activities they can carry out as a visitor for up to 6 months. These are known as “permitted activities”. Under the Home Office Visit Guidance, the permitted activities are specified and “must not amount to employment or filling a role even on a temporary basis”.
General Business Activities
In general, a visitor may:
- attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews
- give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not for profit
- negotiate and sign deals and contracts
- attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided there is no direct selling
- carry out site visits and inspections
- gather information for their employment overseas
- be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK.
Employees of an overseas based company may come to the UK to:
- advise and consult
- provide training
- share skills and knowledge
These activities must be carried out on a specific internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group. Work must not be carried out directly with clients.
Manufacture and supply of goods to the UK
Foreign suppliers may send workers to carry out after-sales or after-lease service work under an agreement to supply or lease equipment to the UK. Individuals can come to the UK to service and maintain such equipment, in line with the after-sales or after-lease agreement.
Can I work in another country?
It is vital that you check the rules relating to business activities in the country you will be travelling to, well in advance of departure. Each country has its own rules regarding what you can and cannot do as a visitor.
Care must be taken when assessing exactly what activities will be required of any visitor to your organisation from overseas.
Similarly, if you are visiting an overseas country, you must check what activities are permitted.
Those who abuse visitor rights must be cautious of the potential criminal and civil sanctions related to illegal working and breach of immigration rules.