Entering the UK as a visitor

Can I come into the UK as a visitor and work or carry out business?

No this is not possible as working in the UK is a prohibited activity for anyone who is a "visitor" under the UK's Immigration Rules.

A "visitor" in this context is a non-UK national who has entered the UK either under a Standard Visitor visa, or visa-free because their nationality (for example, nationals of the US, Singapore, Hong Kong and European countries) grants them this entitlement, for a stay of up to six months. A visitor cannot undertake prohibited work in the UK, which includes (among other things) being employed here, carrying out work for an organisation or business in the UK and providing goods and services. There are however certain general business activities that a visitor is permitted to carry out including attending meetings and conferences, negotiating and signing deals and contracts and gathering information for their overseas employment.

In this post COVID-19 era, remote working from the UK has become an increased consideration for overseas nationals. Visitors in the UK are able to carry out activities relating to their overseas employment remotely whilst in the UK. However, they cannot come to the UK for the sole reason of working remotely or seek to live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits. Internationally mobile executives who are visitors in the UK must therefore be very mindful of what employment-related activities they can and cannot undertake whilst in the country. They would need to apply for and obtain an appropriate UK visa before coming to the UK if they are moving here to work and live, or want the flexibility to spend more than six months per trip and have no restrictions on their economic activity whilst in the UK. The Tier 1 (Investor) Visa was popular in achieving these purposes before it was closed by the UK government to new applicants on 17 February 2022. With this door now shut, it is more important than ever for overseas executives to consider carefully what other visa categories may be required and appropriate for them as part of their travels to the UK.

For more information or advice, please contact Alfred Liu, Senior Associate in our Private Client team.


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