Current and Future Changes to the UK Visitor Visa
Changes to the Immigration Rules came into effect on 31 January 2024. The changes to the visitor visa are generally positive and expand the some of the activities permitted for visitors in the UK. These are as follows:
There are updates on scientists and researchers, remote working, and intra-corporate activities
There is new content about wet leasing as a permitted activity – this is where pilots or members of cabin crew who are coming to the UK to work on an aircraft that is being leased to a UK airline as part of a Civil Aviation Authority wet lease agreement will often be based in the UK for long periods (in some cases for up to 6 months).
There is changed content around Permitted Paid Engagements now that this is a part of the Standard visitor route – but the engagement is still limited to 30 days.
If you need to know any further information on the above changes, please contact us. However, here is a little more information on Remote Working and what this will mean for those traveling to the UK as a visitor.
The updated immigration rules confirm that visitors are permitted to work remotely while in the UK undertaking activities related to their overseas employment, with the condition that it is not the primary purpose of their visit.
There is a lot of hype about this change, and it recognises the global trend towards flexible working arrangements. However, visitors need to understand that this is not a free for all which allows you to spend a significant amount of time in the UK while working remotely for an overseas company.
updated content on scientists and researchers, remote working, and intra-corporate activities to reflect changes to the Immigration Rules
new content about wet leasing as a permitted activity
changed content around Permitted Paid Engagements now that this is a part of the Standard visitor route
The guidance is suggesting that months stay while working remotely would be considered acceptable. Longer trips with the intention to work remotely for the full period of time, may result in questions being asked, and possibly a more in depth look at what you are doing. If the Immigration Officer doesn’t believe that the length of the trip wouldn’t be possible without remote working (i.e you don’t have sufficient paid leave), they may consider that the remote working is the primary purpose of the trip, rather than a holiday, family visit, or business trip. If an Immigration Officer, determines this is the case, you may be refused entry. In reality, this is going to be pretty hard to determine immediately, so it is important to ensure you are fully aware of the limitations of this change.
The new rules do not specifically set out restrictions on the range or type of activities that can be undertaken remotely, but they do mention activities such as responding to emails, answering phone calls or participating in remote meetings.
This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is important to be clear that remote working is not the same as a Digital Nomad Visa, which allows applicants to live overseas and work remotely. The UK does not have a Digital Nomad Visa.
What has stayed the same?
While non-visa nationals do not normally require a visa to visit the UK, you will still need to apply for an actual visa if you intend to marry (or giving notice to marry) in the UK. If you are a visa national who requires a visit visa, you will still need to apply for a separate Marriage Visit visa even if you already have a normal visitor visa.
To ensure you are up to date, individual travellers to the UK, or businesses sending their employees to the UK for business trips, should still review the purpose of the trip closely to ensure the activities fall within those that are permitted by the Visitor category.
What else is happening?
The biggest change coming for non-visa nationals will be the introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). From the 22 February nationals from the following countries will have to apply for an ETA before travelling to the UK.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan
This will eventually be expanded to all non-visa nationals, and we will update as soon as we know more. Here is the link for more information on the ETA.
The ETA scheme is broadly for visitors who do not need a visa for short stays to the UK.
On 1 February 2024, the scheme opened for nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, who will require an ETA to travel to the UK from 22 February 2024. Qatari nationals already need an ETA. Other nationalities cannot and do not need to apply yet.
Would you like to know more?
For further information on these changes and UK immigration regulations, please contact us on email@example.com.