American Expats In The UK

Work Permit Visa

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If you are planning to move to the UK to work, you must get your work permit before arriving in the UK. You cannot apply for a work permit yourself, a UK employer must arrange this for you. There are exceptions, such as the Highly Skilled Migrant Worker Program. Spouses of persons granted residence in Britain are not usually subject to employment restrictions but do require entry clearance. If you are here on a fiance visa, you are not allowed to work. If you are here on a leave to remain visa because of marriage to a British citizen, you can work.

You may also want to consult the Work Permit website which has a wealth of information and application forms.

If you require further help, why not ask in the forum's Immigration section of this website? The users on the forum have been through what you are going through and answer your questions very quickly and in a friendly manner.

FAQ - Work Permits

Can I do business in the United Kingdom as a visitor?

Yes, as a visitor you may do business that is directly linked to your employment or business abroad. You must not do work which you would need a work permit for. You should get your salary from abroad but you may receive reasonable expenses from sources in the United Kingdom to cover travel and living expenses.

What type of business can I do in the United Kingdom?

As a visitor you may:

go to meetings and trade fairs, buy things, and negotiate and complete contracts with United Kingdom businesses;

go to conferences and seminars as a delegate;

undertake fact finding missions, check details or examine goods; and receive training in techniques and work practices that are used in the United Kingdom, as long as the training you receive is limited to observation and classroom instruction only.

You may also enter the United Kingdom as a business visitor if you:

deliver goods from abroad, for example, if you are a lorry driver who is genuinely working on an international route;

come as a representative of a foreign computer software company to install their product, or to de-bug or improve their product;

come as a representative of a foreign machine manufacturer to service or repair their products within the initial period of guarantee;

come as a representative of a foreign machine manufacturer to put in machinery that is too large to be delivered in one piece as part of the contract of purchase and supply;

come as an adviser, consultant, trainer or trouble shooter and so on, as long as you are employed abroad, either directly or under contract, by the same company (or group of companies) that the client firm belongs to. Advisers must not get involved in project management and any training you provide must be for a specific purpose, not go beyond classroom instruction and must not be readily available anywhere else in the United Kingdom;

come as a guest speaker at a conference or seminar if it is a single or occasional event and not a commercial venture that you are part of;

come to run a conference or seminar that lasts for up to five days, as long as it is a single or occasional event, involving a specialist subject that's attracts a wide audience, including people from outside the United Kingdom;

come as an expert to talk to United Kingdom businessmen about overseas legal and administrative requirements they need to meet as exporters; or

come as a sportsperson or entertainer for trials or auditions, or for personal appearances which do not involve performances.

How do I qualify to come to the United Kingdom as a business visitor?

You must be able to show that:

you only want to visit the country for up to six months;

you plan to leave the United Kingdom at the end of your visit;

you have enough money to support and accommodate yourself without working or help from public funds;

you normally live and work abroad and you have no plans to transfer your base to the United Kingdom; and you do not plan to work, produce goods or provide services in the United Kingdom.

All visitors to the United Kingdom, whether they are here for business or social reasons, can only stay for six months.

If you are a visa national, you will need a visa to enter the United Kingdom. If you are not a visa national, you will find it helpful to carry documents with you that will show the immigration officer why you are visiting.

If you visit the United Kingdom frequently on business, you can apply for a multiple-entry visa or entry clearance as a visitor. This is normally valid for two years. This service is available to both visa and non-visa nationals.

Is there a limit to the number of visits I can make to the United Kingdom?

There are no set rules but we will only give you permission to stay in the United Kingdom for up to six months for any one visit.

Although there is no limit to the number of times you can visit, you would normally be expected to spend no more than six months of any 12-month period in the United Kingdom.

If you stay as a business visitor in the United Kingdom for more than six months during any 12-month period you may be refused entry. If you stay for a long time, this would suggest that you may be basing yourself here and doing a job which someone who lives in the United Kingdom or European Economic Area could do.

You can get guidance leaflets and information about visas from the Joint Entry Clearance Unit.
Please write to:

The Visa Correspondence Unit
Joint Entry Clearance Unit
89 Albert Embankment
London SE1 7TP

General enquiries 020 7238 3838
Application forms 020 7238 3858


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