As of January 4, 2008


Dear Traveler/Travel Arranger:


To help you determine whether you require a Work Permit to visit the United Kingdom or whether you can go as a “Visitor” without a visa, please review the information below. Please note that the UK categorizes business and leisure travelers as “visitors”. As a visitor (U.S. citizens do not require a visa for stay less than 6 months).

Who should be treated as visitors
Most visitors to the UK are dealt with under the general "visitors" provisions contained in Paragraphs 40 and 41 of the Rules. However, four categories of visitor come under other paragraphs: those visiting for medical treatment (Paragraph 51), those wishing to exercise their rights of access to a child resident in the UK (Paragraph 246), those wishing to enter for marriage or civil partnership or to give notice of marriage / civil partnership (Paragraph 56D) and thosewishing to take a short course of study (Paragraph 56K).

Persons may wish to visit the UK for a variety of reasons. The following are examples of those who can be treated as visitors (although the list is not exhaustive):

  • those visiting relatives or friends;
  • tourists, including cruise passengers;
  • those visiting for religious purposes;
  • those on business or employment-related visits including for interviews, auditions or "trials" (but not those setting-up business in the UK);
  • those wishing to take a short course of study which will be completed within the period of their student visitor leave (Paragraph 56K of the Rules)
  • those going for medical treatment in the UK (Paragraph 51 of the Rules);
  • those exercising access rights to a child resident in the UK (Paragraph 246 of the Rules);
  • parents with children at school in the UK - see Chapter 12.27;
  • relatives acting as child minders;
  • those visiting to get married or undertake a civil partnership (but not to stay) (Paragraph 56D of the Rules);
  • those taking examinations (but not pursuing studies);
  • academic visitors;
  • members of NATO and Commonwealth armed forces and certain other military personnel.(also see Chapter 5)
  • those taking part in archaeological digs.

Requirements for a visitor under the Rules

The requirements to be met by a person seeking entry clearance as a visitor are that he/she:

  1. is genuinely seeking entry as a visitor for a limited period as stated by him/her, not exceeding six months; and
  2. intends to leave the UK at the end of the period of the visit as stated by him/her; and
  3. does not intend to take employment in the UK; and
  4. does not intend to produce goods or provide services (including the selling of goods or services direct to members of the public) within the United Kingdom; and
  5. does not intend to undertake a course of study *
  6. will maintain and accommodate himself/herself and any dependants adequately out of resources available to them without recourse to public funds or taking employment; or will, with any dependants be maintained and accommodated adequately by relatives or friends; and (see subparagraph (vi) of Rule 41); and
  7. can meet the cost of the return or onward journey; and
  8. is not a child under the age of 18.

Business (or employment-related) visits
The requirement in 10.2(d) above is specifically intended to differentiate between a business visitor and a person setting-up or engaging in business in the UK who is required to qualify under separate provisions in the Rules (see chapters on Employment for details).

Business visitors must qualify under the requirements of the Rules for visitors.

You should be satisfied that the applicant:

  • intends to transact business directly linked to his or her employment abroad;
  • normally lives and works abroad and has no intention of transferring their base to the UK, even temporarily;
  • receives a salary from abroad (but may get reasonable expenses to cover travel and subsistence during the visit).

You should treat as business visitors:

  • those going to attend meetings, conferences, trade fairs, seminars etc including guest speakers provided the conference or seminar is a single event, i.e. not part of a commercial venture;
  • those going to purchase, check details of or examine goods;
  • those delivering goods from abroad, such as lorry drivers;
  • those going to negotiate or sign trade agreements, contracts, etc;
  • those attending interviews including sports persons going for "trials", entertainers going for auditions (see separate section below);
  • those coming to undertake fact-finding missions, e.g. journalists on a short assignment to cover a story;
  • advisers, consultants, trainers, trouble shooters etc, provided that they are employed abroad, either directly or under contract, by the same company (or group or companies) to which the UK client firm belongs, but,
  • the involvement of such advisers must not extend to actual project management or providing consultancy services direct to clients of the UK company
  • training should be for a specific, one-off purpose, should not go beyond classroom instruction, and should not be otherwise readily available here
  • tour group couriers contracted to a firm outside the UK, who are seeking entry to carry out short- term duties and are not seeking to base themselves in the UK;
  • interpreters or translators who are existing employees of an overseas company and who are accompanying and solely providing a service for business visitors from the company;
  • representatives of computer software companies coming to install, debug or enhance their products. A trip to be briefed on the requirements of a UK customer is also acceptable. However, if representatives are to provide a detailed assessment of a potential customer’s needs, this is regarded as consultancy for which a work permit is required;
  • representatives of foreign companies coming to erect, dismantle, install, service or repair their company’s products;
  • those coming for training in techniques and work practices employed in the UK, provided that the training is confined to observation, familiarisation and classroom instruction only;
  • discretion may also be exercised where an applicant proposes a visit for business purposes which might be seen as the provision of a service such as taking instructions or giving professional advice. In such cases a short (see Paragraph 10.15 below) visit may be authorised.

Conversely, the following should not be treated as business visitors:

  • employees of overseas firms whose involvement with a United Kingdom subsidiary amounts to employment here;
  • consultants who are self employed, other than those contracted abroad by an overseas firm with a UK subsidiary;
  • those who are undertaking productive work which could be undertaken by someone recruited from the local or EEA labour force;
  • those offering training, unless such training involves products manufactured overseas, or is specific to the operation of a group of companies of which the UK firm is a member.


For further information on UK Visas, please visit https://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/ecg/chapter10/. You may also contact your nearest Travisa office or email us at accountsteam@travisa.com.