This summary is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered an authoritative guide on how to obtain work authorization in the United Kingdom. The intent is to give the reader a general overview of the process only. Procedures and requirements may have changed since the writing of this article. For current and detailed information regarding the topics below, as well as documentary requirements, processing times, post-arrival and departure requirements, penalties for non-compliance, allowances for accompanying family members, and any other information pertaining to your specific needs, please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration professional.
Permitted Activities – Business visitors must generally limit their activities to the following:
• Meetings, conferences, site visits, signing contracts, interviews, fact finding missions;
• Attending Trade Fairs provided this is restricted to promotional work and does not involve selling direct;
• Those delivering goods and passengers from abroad such as lorry drivers and coach drivers provided they are genuinely working an international route;
• Tour group couriers who are contracted to a firm outside the UK, who are seeking entry to accompany a tour group and who intend to leave with that tour group;
• Representing computer software companies by coming to install, debug or enhance their products;
• Representing foreign manufacturers by coming to service or repair their company’s products within their initial period of guarantee;
• Representing foreign machine manufacturers by coming to erect and install machinery too heavy to be delivered in one piece, as part of the contract of purchase and supply;
• Interpreting or translating for visiting business persons provided the interpreter/translator is employed by the overseas company and is coming solely to provide this service for the visiting company member;
• Training in techniques and work practices employed in the UK, provided the training received is confined to observation, familiarization and classroom instruction only;
• Visiting as an adviser, consultant, trainer, internal auditor or troubleshooter, provided the visitor is employed abroad, either directly or under contract, by the same company (or group of companies) to which the client firm belongs, and does not undertake paid or unpaid work for the UK company’s clients.
Type of Business Visas – Certain nationals may enter the United Kingdom without need of a business visa (visa-exempt nationals). All other nationals will require a visitor visa.
1. Intention of a genuine visit for business and not for paid employment;
2. Valid passport;
3. Evidence that there are no restrictions on his or her traveling to the UK;
4. No intention to permanently reside in the UK;
5. A ticket for onward travel from the UK; and
6. Proof of funds.
Estimated Processing Times – This varies by diplomatic post and country.
Maximum Time On Visa – This visa allows business people to make a short business visit to the UK for up to six months during the visa validity period. Visas cannot be extended in country and authorities reserve the right to challenge any application that they believe to evidence “frequent, successive” visits to the UK and/or visits that amount to “de facto” residence in the UK.
Typical Documents Required – All travelers need to present the following documents to officers in immigration clearance:
• a valid passport or other acceptable travel document; and in some cases
• a valid visa or authority to enter the UK.
Basic Requirements – The UK immigration system has several categories for corporate immigration. The most commonly used category for temporary employment in the UK is the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer (ICT)) category. This is a category for employers to sponsor qualified skilled workers to work as intra-company transferees in the UK on a temporary basis.
Process Overview – The process for obtaining Tier 2 ICT work authorization, provided the sponsor company is registered as a sponsor under the Points Based System, involves a two or three step process as summarized below:
1. Certificate of Sponsorship – Licensed Sponsors submit an online application to the UK Border Agency;
2. Biometric Residence Permit* – applied for at the British Consulate or Embassy in the applicant’s country of residence or nationality; initially the applicant is issued with an Travel Vignette valid for 30 days, followed by a collection of the Biometric Residence Permit within 10 days of arrival in the UK;
3. Police Registration – for certain nationals only.
* The process for obtaining a Biometric Residence Permit is new and is in the process of being implemented in phases over a 4 month period, starting March 2015. For consulates where this process has not been implemented yet, the applicant will instead receive an Entry Clearance Visa with validity covering the whole validity period of the Certificate of Sponsorship.
Estimated Processing Time – Certificate of Sponsorship is issued immediately upon online application; Residence Permit approved within one to three weeks from date of consular filing.
Validity periods – The TIER 2 (ICT) residence permit is valid for either a maximum of 1 year, 5 years or (renewable up to) 9 years, depending on specific ICT category and salary. Holders of TIER 2 ICT residence permits do not qualify for permanent residency.
Family Members – Dependents of TIER 2 (ICT) holders are permitted to work in the UK.