If you want to visit the UK for a temporary business activity, you could apply for a UK business visitor visa. It’s a short-term visa and relatively not difficult to get, but you must be sure that your business activity is eligible.
The UK business visitor visa has its dos and don’ts. You can find everything you need to know about the visa in this WorldTravelPride post.
What Is a UK Business Visitor Visa?
The UK business visitor visa comes under the standard visitor visas. The visa permits you to stay in the UK for up to six months for business activities such as attending meetings & interviews, signing contracts, performing inspections, and many others.
It’s a temporary visa, so you must leave the UK when it expires, although you could extend your stay in exceptional circumstances. To qualify for the UK business visitor visa, you must meet its specific requirements and also the general standard visitor visa requirements.
Notably, the UK business visitor visa doesn’t allow you to work. In other words, you can’t engage in paid or unpaid employment during your short stay. If you want to work, you have to apply for a work visa.
You can only apply for the UK business visitor visa outside the country. If you’re already in the country, there’s no need to apply.
The UK standard visa accommodates travelers that are under 18. However, getting a business visitor visa is almost impossible if you’re under 18, as you won’t meet any of the requirements.
People under 18 cannot form legal business entities, so they usually have no business with signing a contract, attending business meetings, etc. If you’re not up to 18, you can apply for a study or academic visitor if you’re eligible.
Long Term UK Business Visitor Visa
The regular UK business visitor visa is a short-term visa that lets you stay in the UK for no more than six months. However, it’s possible to obtain a long-term business visitor visa.
The long-term business visitor visa is also limited to six-month per stay. However, the difference is that you can visit the UK regularly without applying for a new visa each time.
For example, a long-term UK business visitor visa can last for two, five, or ten years. During these years, you can travel to the UK for business activity and stay for no more than six months.
After six months, you must leave the country. Then, you can travel to the UK again for another business activity with the same visa. There’s no limit to how often you can enter and re-enter the UK on a long-term business visitor visa.
However, the UK Home Office can cancel your long-term visa anytime if you abuse the privilege. Note that they keep track of your travel history. As a result, you should only travel to the UK and stay for up to six months if business allows it.
Furthermore, since it’s a long-term visa, the eligibility requirements are relatively more demanding than the short-term visa.
Business Visitor Visa UK Eligibility
To be eligible for a UK business visitor visa, you must be coming to the country for one of the following reasons:
- Sign or negotiate business deals and contracts.
- Attend promotional trade fairs, granted that you won’t sell any product.
- Attend business conferences, meetings, interviews, and seminars.
- Attend a work-related training which isn’t available in your home country.
- Visit a site for inspection.
- Facilitate the delivery of services and goods offered by a UK company to your company in a foreign country.
- Teach in a training or seminar in the UK brand of a foreign company you work for.
- Give short talks – one-offs or multiple. They must be at a noncommercial or nonprofit event, and you must not be paid.
- Repair, install, service, or dismantle a computer hardware, software, or other equipment. Your company must have a contract with a UK company.
The above are the basic eligibility requirements. However, depending on your position in the business, you have to perform some extra activities while in the UK.
For example, you can come to the UK to witness a court case as a lawyer or contribute to research as a scientist. The UK Home Office designates extra activities for about nineteen different job positions.
Required Documents For UK Business Visitor Visa Application
The required documents for the UK business visitor visa you must submit depend on your business activity. A general document you must submit is your international passport or another travel document.
The passport or document must be valid throughout your intended stay and have a blank page where the embassy will stamp your visa if the application is successful.
Furthermore, you need to provide an itinerary document for your business activity. It should include the date you plan to enter the UK, where you’ll stay in the country, your address in your home country, and the cost of your trip.
You must prove that you will return to your home country when your visa expires. For that, you must show proof of ties with your home country, including your parents’ details, annual income, details of how long you’ve resided in the country, and others.
You also need to show proof that you have no ongoing criminal, civil, or immigration cases.
The UK Home Office may ask for additional documents, including your employer’s details, details of your other family members & partner, and details of your travel history.
UK Business Visitor Visa Application Fee
How much you pay for your UK business visitor visa application depends on how long the visa will stay valid.
A short-term business visitor visa that lasts for six months costs £100. However, a long-term business visitor visa that stays valid for two years costs £376.
Furthermore, a long-term business visitor visa that lasts for five years costs £670, while a business visitor visa that lasts for ten years costs £837.
The visa processing fee is non-refundable and mandatory. The UK Home Office won’t process your visa if you don’t pay the fee.
You will need to pay extra processing fees if you want the Home Office to process your visa faster. The priority service costs £500, while the super priority service costs £800. Like the standard processing fee, both are non-refundable.
Business Visitor Visa UK Application Process
You can apply for a UK business visitor visa at least three months before the date you intend to enter the country. The latest you can apply is 48 hours before the date.
The application procedure is similar, even if you’re applying for a short-term or long-term business visitor visa. Notably, the visa mandates an appointment, so you’ll have to visit the embassy for an interview.
It’ll take around eight weeks to get a verdict if you apply via the standard service. The days start counting after you submit all your supporting documents and biometric information.
However, you can get a verdict by the end of the next day after your appointment at the embassy if you pay for super priority service. The service costs 800.
If your application is successful, the embassy will stamp the visa in your passport, and you’ll receive a biometric residence permit. It may take up to ten working days from the day of approval to get the permit.
Sometimes, your visa may take longer to process. This is common if you need to attend an interview or some of your supporting documents need verification. It can also occur due to other personal circumstances.
Note that you can apply for a long-term business visitor visa and get a short-term one instead. The UK Home Office makes the ultimate decision.
UK Business Visitor Visa Duration
A standard UK business visitor visa is valid for no more than six months. The UK Home Office will decide how long your visa will last. It could be two, three, or four months, for example, but not more than six months.
If you have any business activity requiring you to be in the UK for more than six months consecutively, you must apply for a different visa type.
As mentioned before, you can apply for a long-term UK business visitor visa that will last for two, five, or ten years. However, the duration limit every time you enter the UK is still six months.
Having a two-year UK business visitor visa doesn’t mean you can enter the UK and stay for two years. You can only stay for six months at a time, and then you must leave the country.
In fact, if you finish the business activity you came for before six months, you must leave the country. Completing the six months while conducting no business activity is considered an abuse of your visa.
It could lead to the UK Home Office canceling your visa and denying you all privileges of entering the country to conduct business.
UK Business Visitor Visa Extension
You can only extend your UK business visitor visa if it isn’t valid for up to six months. Six months is the maximum, so if your visa is eligible for one, two, three, four, or five months, you can apply to extend it to six months.
Getting an extension is relatively easy, so long as you have a valid reason to remain in the UK. However, this is more common with other standard visitor visas. Still, the business visitor visa is different as it’s rare for one business activity to linger for up to six months.
Nevertheless, if you must extend your stay, you have to pay the £1000 processing fee, irrespective of how long you’re extending for. You must apply before your current visa expires; like the initial visa, it could take weeks to get a verdict.
The good news is you can stay in the UK during the processing stage if your current visa expires, so long as you applied before it expired.
To get a faster verdict – especially if your current visa is almost expiring – you can pay an extra £1000 for super priority service. The application further demands that you submit your biometric information.
Dependents of Business Visitor Visa Holders
The UK Home Office allows standard visitor visa beneficiaries to bring dependents. Your dependents can apply- and travel with you, or they can apply and come later, so long as you still have reason to be in the UK.
However, since the business visitor visa is relatively short term – no more than six months at a time – it’s ideal that your dependents apply and travel with you.
The main requirement for bringing dependents is to prove your relationship and have enough funds to support their stay. You must prove that you have the funds to pay for their ticket – to and fro – accommodation and other expenses in the UK.
How Much Money Is Needed for a UK Business Visitor Visa?
Primarily, you must have the funds to pay the processing fee and purchase flight tickets. How much you’ll need overall to support your stay will depend on what business you’re conducting in the UK.
For example, if you’re coming to the UK to sign a contract, you may not stay in the country for up to a week. On the other hand, if you’re traveling for training, you may stay for a month or two, which will require more supporting funds.
How much you need will increase if you’re traveling with dependents. Therefore, ultimately, the amount will depend on your circumstance. The UK Home Office will let you know the amount during your application.
The UK business visitor visa lets you travel to the UK for a specific business activity. Obtaining this visa isn’t difficult so long as you have a valid reason to apply.
It’s a short-term visa and doesn’t lead to long-term residence in the UK in any way.