Business visitors

Business visitors

This section describes the immigration category of business visitor, and explains who can come to the UK as a business visitor.

The business visitor category is for people who want to come and do business in the UK for a short time. This includes academic visitors, visiting professors, overseas news media representatives and film crews on location.

However, you may need to apply under the points-based system if you want to carry out certain work activities or receive training.

What business activities can a business visitor do?

This page describes the types of business activity that business visitors can do in the UK.

You may be able to come to the UK as a business visitor if you are one of the following:

Film crew

You must be an actor, producer, director or technician who is on a location shoot only, and employed or paid by an overseas company or programme.

Representative of overseas news media

You must be employed or paid by an overseas company and be gathering information for an overseas publication.

Academic visitor

You must be:

  • on sabbatical leave from an overseas academic institution, and wanting to use your leave to carry out research in the UK (for example, to do research for a book); or
  • an academic (including a doctor) taking part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts; or
  • an eminent senior doctor or dentist coming to take part in research, teaching or clinical practice.

Additionally, you must not:

  • receive funding for your work from any UK source (except payments of expenses or reasonable honoraria, and payments on an exchange basis); or
  • engage in any work other than the academic activity for which you are being admitted; or
  • fill a normal post or a genuine vacancy in the UK.

Visiting professor accompanying students on a study abroad programme

You must be a professor or teacher from an overseas academic institution. While in the UK, you may undertake a small amount of teaching, limited to the institution hosting the students you are supervising. However, you must be employed and paid by the overseas academic institution, and must not intend to base yourself or seek employment in the UK.

Religious worker

You can come to the UK for a business visit (for example, to attend a conference) and undertake some preaching or pastoral work during your visit. You must be based abroad, and you must not intend to take up an office, post or appointment in the UK.

Adviser, consultant, trainer or trouble shooter

You must be employed abroad by the company to which the client firm in the UK belongs, but this must not amount to employment for the UK firm. You must not do paid or unpaid work for the UK firm’s clients.

Person undertaking specific, one-off training

The training must be:

  • provided by your employer (or one of its UK branches); and
  • delivered in techniques and work practices used in the UK, provided this is not on-the job training.

Doctor undertaking a clinical attachment, or dentist undertaking a clinical observer post

You must be a graduate from a genuine medical or dental school, and provide documentary evidence of a clinical attachment or dental observer post which will:

  • involve observation only and not treatment of patients; and
  • be unpaid.

Doctor taking the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test

You must:

  • be a graduate from a genuine medical school;
  • intend to take the PLAB test in the UK; and
  • provide documentary evidence of a confirmed test date or of your eligibility to take the PLAB test.

Other business persons

You can also apply to come to the UK as a business visitor if you intend to carry out any of the following ‘permitted activities’ here:

  • attending meetings (including interviews that have been arranged before you come to the UK) or conferences;
  • arranging deals, or negotiating or signing trade agreements or contracts;
  • undertaking fact-finding missions;
  • conducting site visits;
  • delivering goods and passengers from abroad (as a lorry driver or coach driver, for example, provided you are genuinely working an international route);
  • accompanying a tour group as a tour group courier, provided you are contracted to a firm outside the UK, and you intend to leave with that tour group;
  • speaking at a ‘one-off’ conference where this is not run as a commercial concern;
  • representing a foreign manufacturer by coming to service or repair its products within their initial period of guarantee;
  • representing a foreign machine manufacturer by coming to erect and install machinery too heavy to be delivered in one piece, as part of the contract of purchase and supply;
  • interpreting or translating for visiting business persons, provided you are employed by the overseas company and are coming solely to provide this service for the visiting company member;
  • acting as a monteur (a worker such as a fitter or serviceperson) for up to 6 months to erect, dismantle, install, service, repair or advise on the development of foreign-made machinery;
  • attending board meetings in the UK as a board-level director, provided you are not employed by a UK company (although you may be paid a fee for attending the meeting); and
  • representing a computer software company by coming to install, debug or enhance their products. You may also come here as a business visitor to be briefed about a UK customer’s requirements – but if you use your expertise to make a detailed assessment of a potential customer’s requirements, we will regard this as consultancy work, for which you will need a visa under the points-based system.

Can you come to the UK as a business visitor?

This page explains whether you can come to the UK as a business visitor.

The ‘business visitor’ category is for nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

To come to the UK as a business visitor, you must be able to show that:

  • you are 18 or over;
  • you intend to visit the UK for no more than 6 months (or 12 months if you are an academic visitor), unless you are a doctor taking the PLAB test (in which case you can apply to extend your stay and undertake a clinical attachment if you pass the PLAB test);
  • you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit;
  • you have enough money to support and accommodate yourself without working or help from public funds, or you and any dependants will be supported and accommodated by relatives or friends;
  • you are based abroad and do not intend to transfer your base to the UK, even temporarily;
  • you receive your salary from abroad (although it is acceptable for you to receive reasonable travel and subsistence expenses while you are in the UK);
  • not be replacing someone in the UK, including for temporary leave periods;
  • you can meet the cost of the return or onward journey; and
  • you are not in transit to a country outside the ‘Common Travel Area’ (Ireland, the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands).

You must also be able to show that, during your visit, you do not intend to:

  • take paid or unpaid employment, produce goods or provide services, including the selling of goods or services directly to members of the public;
  • do a course of study;
  • marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership; or
  • receive private medical treatment.

You should provide documents to show that you meet the above requirements.

What documents do you need as a business visitor?

This page contains information about the documents that you may want to provide to support your application to come to the UK as a business visitor.

If you apply for a visa, you should provide these documents with your visa application. If you travel to the UK without a visa, you should bring them with you so that you can show them to our officers at the border.


You should provide as many relevant documents as you can to show that you qualify for entry to the UK. If you do not provide them, we may refuse your application.

You must decide which documents will best support your application. We advise you to consider providing documents that contain:

  • information about you
  • information about your finances and employment
  • your accommodation and travel details
  • information about your visit to the UK

Do you need a visa as a business visitor?

This page explains whether you will need to obtain a visa before you come to the UK as a business visitor.

You will need a visa if you:

  • are a visa national (see ‘More information’ below); or
  • are stateless (you do not have a nationality); or
  • hold a non-national travel document (a travel document which does not give you the nationality of the country that issued it); or
  • hold a passport issued by an authority that is not recognised in the UK.

Even if you do not need a visa, you may decide that you should apply for one anyway – see ‘More information’ below.

Can you extend your stay as a business visitor?

This page explains whether and how you can extend your stay in the UK as a business visitor.

If you come to the UK as a business visitor, we will allow you to remain here for a maximum of 6 months (or 12 months if you are an academic visitor). When you enter the UK, we will stamp the duration of your permission to stay in your passport.

If we give you permission to enter for less than 6 (or 12) months, and you later want to extend your stay to the maximum of 6 (or 12) months in total, you must apply for an extension – see below. If you are a doctor undertaking a clinical attachment, or a dentist undertaking a clinical observer post, we will initially give you permission to stay for 6 weeks, but you can apply for further 6-week extensions up to a maximum of 6 months.

If we give you permission to enter the UK for less than 6 months as a child visitor to carry out business activities here, and your 18th birthday is during this period, you can apply to extend your stay as a business visitor. The maximum total time that you can stay in the UK will be 6 months.

If we allow you to extend your stay, you must continue to meet the requirements for business visitors.

When your permission to stay expires, we expect you to return home. You cannot ‘switch’ into a different immigration category.

How to apply for an extension

You must apply using application form FLR(O). You can complete and submit this application form online, or you can print out the form, complete it by hand and submit it by post, by courier or in person. You should read the FLR(O) guidance notes before you complete the application form.

You can follow the links on the right side of this page to:

  • make your FLR(O) application online, and download the FLR(O) application form (if you are not applying online) and guidance notes.

The application form gives details of the documents that you must send with your application. You should send the original documents, not copies. In exceptional circumstances, we may accept a photocopy that is certified as an accurate copy by the body or authority that issued the original, or by a notary. You must include a letter explaining why you are providing a certified copy rather than the original document.

You must be in the UK to apply, and you must apply at least 4 weeks before your permission to stay in the UK ends.

You will need to pay a fee when you apply. We will not refund your fee if we refuse your application or if you withdraw it.

If you apply by post or by courier, you must send your application to the address given on the cover of the ‘paper version’ of the form. If your application is straightforward, you can apply in person using our same-day service at one of our public enquiry offices for a premium fee.

Refusals and appeals

This page explains what you can do if we refuse to allow you to enter the UK as a business visitor.

We will make a decision by carefully checking your application, immigration history and supporting documents, to see whether you meet the Immigration Rules. If we cannot make an immediate decision, we may need to interview you.

If we refuse your application for a visa or to enter the UK, our immigration officer or entry clearance officer will send or give you a notice of refusal. This document will list the reasons for the refusal, and will tell you whether you have the right to appeal. The notice will also give you advice on where to send your appeal.