European (EU) Companies who used to send their employees to work in the UK, either in their own UK entity or to work at a clients site will have to carefully plan and manage their activities accordingly if they wish to continue sending their employees or else they may fall foul of the Business Visitor rules and their employee might be sent back at the port of entry.
From 1 January 2021, all the European Citizens would be subject to the same Business Visitor requirements as any other non-European national (USA, Japan, India, China, etc.)
Below we have discussed the various aspects that need to be considered by EU Companies while sending their EU Citizen employees to the UK on short term visits:
EU citizen employees (employed by either a linked EU Entity or any third party EU Company) can come to the UK on a Business visitor entry, they would not need to apply for a visa to come to the UK (exceptions in Note 1 below), they can use their valid European passport to come to the UK and and they can be in the UK for up to 6 months doing any permitted business activities (see Note 2 below).
Note 1: EU citizen employee who should obtain Business Visitor visa
Below are some of the examples, where it is advisable that the Employee applies and obtains a Business Visitor Visa:
The EU citizen Employee tried to come to the UK, but was refused entry at the port of entry by a UK Immigration officer
The EU citizen Employee has any Criminal convictions or Police Cautions or a Civil Judgement(for non payment of Debts) either in the UK or abroad
The EU citizen Employee has breached UK’s Immigration Laws:
(a) by overstaying their leave/visa to enter/remain in the UK ; or
(b) by breaching a condition attached to their leave, unless leave was subsequently granted in the knowledge of the breach; or
(c) by being an illegal entrant; or
(d) if deception was used in relation to an application or documents used in support of an application (whether successful or not).
Note 2: Permitted Business activities while on Business Visitor entry/visa in the UK:
The EU citizen employee may:
(a) attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews;
(b) give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not organised as commercial events and will not make a profit for the organiser;
(c) negotiate and sign deals and contracts;
(d) attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling;
(e) carry out site visits and inspections;
(f) gather information for their employment overseas;
(g) be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK.
An EU citizen employee of an EU based company may:
(a) advise and consult;
(c) provide training;
(d) share skills and knowledge; on a specific internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group, provided no work is carried out directly with clients.
Prohibited activities on Work visit or Business visit to the UK
The EU citizen Employee must not intend to work in the UK, which includes the following:
(a) taking employment in the UK;
(b) doing work for an organisation or business in the UK;
(c) establishing or running a business as a self-employed person;
(d) doing a work placement or internship;
(e) direct selling to the public;
(f) providing goods and services;
unless expressly allowed by the permitted activities
Permitted activities must not amount to the applicant taking employment, or doing work which amounts to them filling a role or providing short-term cover for a role within a UK based organisation. In addition, where the applicant is already paid and employed outside of the UK, they must remain so.
Payments from a UK source may only be allowed in the following specific circumstances
The EU citizen Employee must not receive payment from a UK source for any activities undertaken in the UK, except for the following:
(a) reasonable expenses to cover the cost of their travel and subsistence, including fees for directors attending board-level meetings; or
(b) prize money; or
(c) billing a UK client for their time in the UK, where the EU citizen employee's overseas employer is contracted to provide services to a UK company, and the majority of the contract work is carried out overseas. Payment must be lower than the amount of the EU citizen employee's salary; or
(d) multi-national companies who, for administrative reasons, handle payment of their employees’ salaries from the UK; or
(e) where the applicant is engaged in Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE), provided the applicant holds a visa or leave to enter as a PPE visitor; or
(f) paid performances at a permit free festival.
Documents to be carried along while travelling to the UK:
It is advisable that any EU citizen employee entering the UK as a Business visitor should carry the following documents with them:
A return flight ticket showing the date of return within 6 months from the date of entry
A letter from their main employer - draft format can be downloaded here
It is advisable that Employees should have appropriate travel insurance with health cover before travelling to the UK or they will be charged for their NHS healthcare if they do not have the right insurance.
How many times can an EU Citizen employee come to the UK?
The EU Citizen employee should avoid repeated visits to the UK or else the Immigration Officer may deny them entry into the UK, if the Immigration Officer is of the opinion that the employee is spending most of their time in the UK.
EU Citizens with EU passports can use the E-gates to enter the UK, wherever they are available, however, this does not mean that the EU citizen will never face an Immigration Officer. If there are repeated visits, then the E-gate may require the EU Citizen to see an Immigration Officer.
Please note that there is no specific rule as to the number of repeated entries or the gap between entries, this totally depends on the individual immigration officer who the employee is faced with, at the port of entry.
It is advisable to keep a gap of at least 3 months between trips. In any case, the number of days the employee has spent in the UK in any 12 month period should not exceed 180 days in total. There may be some exceptions to these calculations, if you need advice with respect to your specific circumstances, please arrange a video/audio consultation with us at: https://www.visa-solutions.co.uk/bookings-checkout/consultation-via-video-audio-call
We trust this information is helpful. We advise employers on UK Immigration, visas and related matters on a regular basis. We are qualified to provide UK immigration advice and application assistance and are registered with the OISC at Level 3 (Advocacy & Appeals)
If you need advice with respect to your specific circumstances, please arrange a video/audio consultation at: