Travelling to the UK for Business Purposes Following Brexit
| Ian Bell

Travelling to the UK for Business Purposes Following Brexit

Read Ian Bell's blog on the change of which employers should be aware 

Following the UK’s exit from the EU and the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, there are several immigration changes of which employers need to be aware when mobilising their workforce, including when visiting the UK for business purposes.

As a European national do I need permission to visit the UK?

Except for Irish citizens (who are generally entitled to move freely to the UK to reside and work), citizens from the European Economic Area (EEA) are now required to follow the same rules and processes as non-EEA citizens when visiting the UK. Non-EEA and EEA citizens are treated the same under the new UK immigration system.

Whilst citizens from outside of the EEA should be familiar with the restrictions on the permitted activities as a visitor, the limitations will be new to EEA citizens and it is important they are aware of these restrictions before travelling to the UK as the consequences of non-compliance can be severe.

When do I need to apply for a UK visit visa?

An individual’s nationality is one of the determining factors on whether they are required to apply for a permission to enter the UK as a visitor before their travel to the UK, or alternatively whether they can instead be granted permission on arrival in the UK. Individuals who are required to apply for a visit visa in advance of their travel are known as “visa nationals,” and those who may be able to obtain permission to enter as a visitor at the UK border are known as “non-visa nationals.”

EEA citizens are considered non-visa nationals, meaning generally they do not need to apply for a visit visa in advance of their travel to the UK.

Am I limited on the work I can do in the UK, and how long can I stay?

It’s vitally important that visitors do not carry out their day-to-day role for their employment overseas whilst in the UK. They are not permitted to provide short-term cover for a role in the UK.

The UK Government has listed a restricted number of activities which are permitted when visiting the UK for business purposes, such as attending business meetings or negotiating and signing contracts. Before travelling to the UK, visitors should be aware of what they can, and cannot, do whilst in the UK.

Visitors can usually enter the UK for up to six months per visit. However, the longer the stay, the more questions that are likely to be raised as to whether the trip is a genuine visit. Consideration should be given to obtaining a work authorisation visa, which may be appropriate for longer or frequent trips to the UK.

A high number of entries to the UK will increase the risk of an individual being questioned or refused entry into the UK, from a potential assumption that frequent repeat entries indicate that work that goes beyond that permitted as a visitor is being performed.

Need help?

Should you have any questions on what is permitted as a visitor coming to the UK, or on the UK immigration system more generally, please do get in contact with me, Ian Bell, at [email protected].

This blog was published on 22 January 2021, and due to the circumstances, there are frequent changes. To keep current with all the latest updates on global immigration, please visit our COVID-19 microsite, subscribe to our alerts and follow us LinkedIn