The majority of foreign visitors travelling to the United Kingdom for professional reasons must hold a visa or visa waiver for business before they can enter the nation.
One of the easiest ways to prepare to travel to the UK for work-related reasons is with an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA for the United Kingdom). This visa waiver can be fully procured online. However, this isn’t available to all travellers.
What kind of UK visa do I need to travel for business?
The process of acquiring a valid business visa for the UK can be very simple. For many foreign nationals it will soon be possible to apply online for a UK eTA. It is also possible for nationals from Oman, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar to visit with an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW).
All other nationalities will need to visit a UK embassy or consulate. In most cases, those travelling to Britain for short business trips can enter the country with a Standard Visitors Visa.
Who needs a British business visa?
Visiting the United Kingdom with an eTA, EVW or the Visitors Visa allows international business travellers to enter the country for multiple reasons.
Passengers entering the UK for business purposes can use their visa or visa waiver to:
- Attend a conference
- Take part in a training course
- Participate in a sporting competition
- To perform in art or cultural event
- Provide expertise to a company
What are the prerequisites for business travellers to the UK?
The UK visitors visa, EVW, and UK eTA must be obtained before travelling to the UK. Applicants must, therefore, submit their details to the UK authorities in advance of their journey to Britain.
In the case of the UK eTA or EVW, registrants will need to acquire a visa waiver at least 2-3 working days before travel.
Alternatively, in the case of the Visitors Visa, applicants can register no more than 3 months before their intended date of arrival. Processing times for the regular entry visa can take up to 3 weeks.
Be aware that these travel authorizations do not permit the holder to work full-time in the United Kingdom. In order to take up employment or a permanent position with a UK registered company, you will instead have to apply for a work visa.
Can a UK business visa be extended?
A Visitors Visa can be granted for periods of up to 6 months. However, to stay in the UK for longer it is necessary to register for one of the available types of visa for workers.
On one hand, the UK eTA will only allow short trips to Britain. However, it is expected to be a multiple-entry document which will permit business travelers to make multiple visits to the country during its duration.
On the other hand, The EVW is single entry only and must be acquired each time an eligible national visits the UK. It can be used for a stay of up to 180 days in the country.