UK Business Visitor Rules to Change from Jan. 31, 2024

In December, EIG sent an alert outlining the UK Home Secretary’s announced plan to reduce net migration. The plan focuses on dependents accompanying a primary visa holder and increasing the minimum salaries for overseas workers or sponsored family members.

As part of the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, the Home Office announced plans to relax the rules for some business visitors. Those changes will take effect from January 31, 2024.

New Rules for Business Visitors

To make the changes as clear as possible, the following highlights the current rule and the rule from January 31, 2024.


  • Current Rule: An employee of a company based outside the UK may come to the UK to 1) advise and consult; 2) troubleshoot; 3) provide training; and 4) share skills and knowledge.

    This must be on a specific internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group, and crucially no work can be carried out directly with clients.

  • New Rule from Jan. 31, 2024: Under the new rules, the employee of a group company based outside the UK can carryout the permitted activities directly with clients so long as any client facing activity is incidental to their employment outside the UK; and these activities are required for the delivery of a project or service by the UK branch to the UK client (not by the group company based outside the UK).

Remote Working

  • Current Rule: There has already been provision for remote working in the visitor guidance.

  • New Rule from Jan. 31, 2024: The general business visitor activity list in the Immigration Rules has been updated to specifically include remote working.  Visitors are permitted to work remotely while they are in the UK but that remote work must not be the primary purpose of their visit.

    This update does not change the existing legal position but gives more certainty as the position is now stated in the rules and not just the guidance.

Overseas Lawyers

  • Current Rule: The existing rules allow lawyers based outside the UK to advise a UK based client on specific international litigation and/or an international transaction.

  • New Rule from Jan. 31, 2024: An overseas lawyer may provide the following legal services: advice; appearing in arbitrations; acting as an arbitrator or mediator; acting as an expert witness; appearing in court in jurisdictions which allow short term call or where qualified in that jurisdiction; conferences, teaching; providing advocacy for a court or tribunal hearing; litigation; and transactional legal services, including drafting contracts.

Speakers at Conferences

  • Current Rule: The current rules permit visitors to speak at a one-off or short series of talks. The visitor cannot be paid and it cannot be organized as a commercial event or make a profit for the organizer.

  • New Rule from Jan. 31, 2024: The new rules allow visitors to be paid to give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches, where they have been invited to a conference or other event.

    This type of activity has been added to the list of Permitted Paid Engagements (see below for more details).

Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE)

  • Current Rule: The list of PPE activities for which visitors can be paid includes for example qualified lawyers carrying certain tasks; and professional artists, entertainers and musicians coming to the UK to perform.

    Currently, if a visitor is going to carry out a PPE, they need to have permission under the specific PPE visitor category. The permission lasts for one-month and the PPE must be arranged in advance with an invitation from a UK organization.

  • New Rule from Jan. 31, 2024: The new rules include the following changes for PPE visitors:
    » They will be given permission as a standard visitor.  PPE visitor visas will no longer exist;
    » Their permission will last for the usual six months, not one-month.  This means after their PPE finishes they can stay in the UK for tourism, visiting family/friends or other permitted business visitor activities;
    » They must still complete their paid engagement within the first 30 days of entry to the UK;
    » They must still have arranged the PPE in the usual way before coming to the UK (or before applying for a prior visa if they are a visa national); and
    » It is expected that PPE visitors who can use the eGates on arrival in the UK will no longer need to ask to see an Immigration Officer.

Erickson Insights & Analysis

The rules around permitted business visitor activities in the UK are strictly interpreted.  Where there is any doubt as to whether someone meets the conditions for entry as a visitor, work permission should be sought – such as by using the Skilled Worker category.

Erickson Immigration Group will continue monitoring developments and sharing updates as more news is available. Please contact your employer or EIG attorney if you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions.