Start typing and hit "Enter" to search.
immigration solicitors near me

UK Business Visa Requirements and Types

A UK business visa allows individuals to come to the UK to carry out activities specifically related to an overseas business. Under the current UK immigration rules for businesses, there are several types of business visas, including the following:

It is important to note that several changes have been made to the business immigration rules in the past couple of years. This means the Tier 1 entrepreneur visa, Investor visa, Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa, and the Sole Representative visa are no longer available to new applicants. However, current holders can still extend their stay or apply for ILR if they meet the eligibility requirements. There are new replacements for most of these visas mentioned.

In the following article, we will explain the purpose, benefits, and visa requirements for UK business immigration routes.

Business visitor visa (short-term business visa)

For individuals who need to need to come to the UK to carry out a business-related activity for a short period, there are two main visas available under the visitor category:

  • Standard visitor visa (also referred to as the short-term UK business visa)
  • Permitted Paid Engagement visa

The standard visitor visa provides permission to come to the UK for business purposes for up to 6 months.

Permitted business activities include:

  • attending job interviews, work-related meetings, and events
  • meeting with clients to negotiate and sign commercial contracts
  • attend trade fairs for the purposes of business promotion (the rules state you are not permitted to sell items, however)
  • receive work-related training if this is not available in your home country
  • give a talk or series of talks (must be unpaid)
  • conduct site visits and inspections in the UK
  • oversee the delivery of goods and services being provided by a UK-based company to an overseas business
  • provide training or share knowledge
  • if your overseas company has a contract with a UK company or organisation - install, dismantle, repair, service, or provide expertise on equipment, computer software, and hardware

It is important to note that you cannot carry out paid or unpaid work for a UK-based business or as a self-employed person on a standard visitor visa. Instead, you will need to apply for a Permitted Paid Engagement visa.

The Permitted Paid Engagement visa allows a person to visit the UK for up to 1 month to carry out a paid engagement for which they have been invited as a specialist or expert in their profession by a UK-based business.

Short-term UK business visa requirements

To qualify for a short-term business visa, you must fulfil the following UK business visa requirements:

  • Genuinely intend to leave the UK before their visa expires
  • Have sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependants throughout their stay in the UK (it is also possible to have someone else provide the necessary financial support, however, evidence in the form of a letter of support must be provided).
  • Have the means to pay for a return or onward journey
  • Not intend to use this visa as a way of living in the UK for extended periods by making frequent or successive visits

Innovator visa

The UK Innovator Visa is a business visa that allows overseas business people and entrepreneurs to come to the UK to set up a new innovative business. The Innovator visa replaces the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. It is still possible to apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa extension. It is also possible to settle in the UK and bring dependant family members to the UK if you hold a valid entrepreneur visa.

Innovator visa applicants must show UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that they:

  • Are 18 years or above
  • Have £50,000 or more in investment funds
  • Have a business plan for a unique, innovative, viable, and scalable business
  • Have the business plan endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body
  • Meet the English language requirements
  • Have sufficient savings to support themselves while in the UK

Successful Innovator visa applicants are normally permitted to stay in the UK for up to 3 years initially. After three years, it is possible to further extend an Innovator visa. The Innovator visa also provides one of the fastest routes to permanent settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR), allowing holders to apply after just 3 continuous years in the UK.

Start-up visa

The Start-up visa is a business visa that allows overseas business people and entrepreneurs with entry-level business experience to set up a new and innovative business in the UK. There is no requirement to have investment funds if applying for a UK Start-Up visa.

Start-up visa applicants must show UK Visas and Immigration that they:

  • Are 18 years or above
  • Have a business plan for a unique, innovative, viable, and scalable business
  • Have their business plan endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body
  • Have (or be developing) the business skills needed to establish a business in the UK
  • Meet the English language requirements
  • Have sufficient savings to support themselves while in the UK

Start-up visas are normally issued for a period of 2 years; however, this cannot be further extended, and it does not provide a route to settlement. Start-up visa holders who wish to stay beyond the 2-year period and potentially settle will need to apply for another visa type that qualifies for settlement (ILR), such as the Innovator visa.

Global business mobility visa

The Global Business Mobility scheme was introduced by UKVI in April 2022 and includes 5 new visas designed to help overseas businesses to expand into the UK market. The Global Business Mobility visa types are as follows:

Senior or Specialist Worker visa

This replaced the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Visa and is for overseas senior managers and employees with specialist skills who wish to work in a UK branch or subsidiary of their employer. Applicants for this visa must be sponsored, hold a Certificate of sponsorship, have a job on the list of eligible occupations, and receive a salary of at least £42,000.

Senior or Specialist Worker visa holders can stay in the UK for up to 5 years and may be able to extend their stay if receiving an annual salary of £73,900 or more. Settlement is not possible with this type of visa; however, it is possible to switch to a different type of visa that qualifies for ILR.

Graduate Trainee visa

This replaced the Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Visa and is similar to the Senior or Specialist Worker visa as it allows an overseas employee to work in the UK for a branch or subsidiary of their employer. Applicants must be sponsored for an eligible job and be on a graduate training programme. They must also have worked for their sponsor outside the UK for 3 months or more, hold a valid Certificate of sponsorship, and receive a salary of at least £23,100 per year.

UK Expansion Worker visa

The UK Expansion Worker visa replaced the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business Visa UK and enables overseas businesses to send a senior manager to the UK to establish a business presence here. Applicants must hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship, have worked for their employer outside the UK (normally for 12 months), have an eligible job, and receive £42,400 per year or the ‘going rate’ for their occupation.

Expansion Worker visa holders can stay for up to 12 months initially and further extend this to a maximum of 2 years. Like the other routes under this scheme, it is not possible to apply for settlement as an Expansion Worker visa holder.

Secondment Worker visa

The UK Secondment Worker visa enables overseas workers to be transferred by their employer to work on a high-value contract with a UK business. Applicants must have worked for an overseas business with a high-value contract with the UK licenced sponsor for 1 year or more, have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship, and have a job on the list of eligible occupations.

Secondment Worker visa holders can stay for up to 12 months and further extend their stay to a maximum of 2 years. It is not possible to apply for settlement as a Secondment Worker visa holder.

Service Supplier visa

The UK Service Supplier visa enables overseas employees and self-employed individuals to come to the UK to provide services to a UK company as part of a contract. Applicants must:

  • work for an overseas business or an overseas self-employed service provider
  • provide services under a contract as part of an international trade agreement in the UK (the UK-based business must be a licenced sponsor)
  • have an eligible job and have any necessary qualifications and professional experience
  • have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship

Service Supplier visa holders can stay for up to 6 or 12 months; this depends on the trade agreement under which the services are provided. It is not possible to apply for settlement as a Service Supplier visa holder.

How to apply for a UK business visa

The application process you will need to follow will depend on the type of visa you are applying for. In most cases, you will need to carry out the following steps:

  1. Review the requirements for the visa you are applying for and check if you are eligible.
  2. Depending on the type of business visa you apply for, you may need a valid Certificate of Sponsorship or an endorsement letter. If applying for a visitor visa, you may need a letter from the relevant business explaining what you will be doing in the UK.
  3. Prepare and submit your visa application – your application can be completed online on the UKVI website.
  4. Pay the visa application fees. For long-term visas, you may also be required to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge allowing you to access health services in the UK.
  5. Book an appointment with a UKVCAS service point (if in the UK) or visa application centre (VAC) (if outside the UK) to have your biometrics processed.
  6. Upload any documents required by UKVI to support your application (e.g., evidence of investment funds).
  7. Attend your biometric appointment to have your fingerprints scanned and your photo taken.
  8. Wait for a decision on your business visa UK application.

You may also be required to attend an interview to discuss your application.

When making any type of business visa application, the key to ensuring a positive decision is providing clear evidence to justify your eligibility. This is especially so when it comes to applying for long-term business visas such as the Start-up and Innovator visas.

At Reiss Edwards, we have helped hundreds of overseas businesses and business people to gain the immigration permission they need to operate in the UK. We also specialise in helping foreign nationals to gain UK citizenship by investment.

For best practice guidance and expertise on securing a business visa for the UK, please speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

Get In Touch


Some of our Happy Client
  • immigration solicitors near me
  • immigration solicitors near me
  • immigration solicitors near me
  • immigration solicitors near me

Reiss Edwards Awards

O.L

Reiss Edwards is absolutely amazing. As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that they know their stuff, gentle, responsive, care about you and not just about the money, very professional.

I mean I can go on and on! The entire team at Reiss Edwards is amazing!

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

Read More

Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

Read More

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

Read More

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

Read More
Back to Top