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UK Immigration update – finally, some good news

In what is becoming one of the busiest couple of months in terms of UK immigration updates, we have yet another change to report.

From the 31 January 2024, the following changes will apply to those coming to the UK as a business visitor, under the Standard Visitor route:

Intra-corporate activity

Under the previous rules, individuals were permitted to advise, consult, troubleshoot etc. in the UK, provided it was linked to a specific internal project, but they were prohibited from working directly with any client based in the UK.

However, individuals may now work directly with clients, if the following applies:

  • they remain in the intra-corporate setting;
  • the client-facing activity is incidental to their overseas employment; and
  • such activities are required for the delivery of a project or service by the UK subsidiary of the overseas organisation.

It is important to keep in mind that the work must not amount to offshoring of the project or service to the overseas company.

Remote working

Finally, long awaited clarification on whether visitor’s can undertake paid remote working (for their overseas employer) during their UK stay.

Under the new rules, individuals can work remotely, provided this is not the primary purpose for their UK visit.

Legal professionals

The list of permitted activities has expanded, and include express provision for the following:

  • advice – which is no longer restricted to a UK based client;
  • advocacy for a court / hearing, or appearing in arbitrations or courts;
  • acting as an arbitrator, mediator or expert witness;
  • conferences and teaching;
  • litigation; and
  • transactional legal services.

Given the significant increase to the scope of permitted activities, we anticipate that there will be more reliance on the V 4.6(d) provisions under the Immigration Rules, which sets out the circumstances in which overseas lawyers are permitted to bill UK based clients.

Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE)

This sets out the requirements for individuals invited to enter the UK to undertake a specific paid engagement.

Under the new rules, those who have been invited to the UK to speak at a conference can now receive payment from a UK source – a very welcomed change and departure from the old system, which caused various issues including individuals being refused entry into the UK.

Previously, the PPE visitor visa was a separate process to the Standard Visitor visa; however, under the updated rules, it no longer falls under a separate visitor type and sits under the Standard Visitor category. What does this mean in practice? Well, hopefully, those entering for PPE reasons may be issued with up to six months leave to remain, and not the one month previously permitted; however, and to caveat, the individual will still be required to undertake the PPE activity within the first 30 days of their UK stay.

And some more good news – changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme

Lastly, there have been further changes made to the Youth Mobility Scheme, which include:

  • For Australia, Canada and the Republic of Korea the eligible age range has increased from 18 – 30 to 18 – 35.
  • Australian and Canadian (previously available to New Zealand) nationals will have the opportunity to extend their visa by an additional year (total of three years stay rather than two)
  • Japan and Republic of Korea nationals no longer require an invitation to apply for a Youth Mobility visa.
  • Andorra and Uruguay have been added to the list of eligible countries from which individuals can apply.

Given the recent changes to the Skilled Worker visa route – namely, an exponential increase to the minimum salary requirement from £26,200 to £38,700, which is set to come into effect from 04 April 2024, the Youth Mobility Scheme may prove to be a popular (not to mention feasible) option to those industries struck worst by the ongoing recruitment shortage, i.e. hospitality, retail, construction.

If you would like to discuss this article with a member of our Immigration team, please do get in touch, here.