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Managing international business visitors without risk

As the World starts to open up again, we look at what you need to consider if your business has employees in other countries who are visiting the UK to work.

Business travel across borders, and even within them, pretty much stopped in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid 19 pandemic. As travel restrictions are being lifted, businesses have the opportunity to allow employees to travel and international business travel is on the rise.

Employers need to take some time to refamiliarise themselves with the relevant rules around immigration and employment tax before they accept a visit from an overseas employee to ensure compliance.

Is your employee ‘working’ in the UK?

The first thing they need to decide is if the employee is classed as ‘working’ on his/her visit. That may sound odd but some activities are permitted and not considered ‘work’ for the purposes of the Immigration Rules. Activities that are permitted include:

  • attending meetings;
  • giving 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;
  • negotiating and signing deals and contracts;
  • attending trade fairs, for promotional work only;
  • carrying out site visits and inspections; and
  • gathering information for their employment overseas.

If the employee is not engaged in one of these permitted activities then there is a good chance he/she is classed as ‘working’. In these circumstances, the employer is likely to have obligations under the Immigration Rules and Employment Tax legislation. Once those obligations are established, it may be that there are exemptions that can apply but the exemptions will come with a list of conditions that must be adhered to if an employer wants to take advantage of them.

 Seeking advice

The key to a successful UK entry as a business visitor is to plan ahead. Seeking early advice will help ensure that any International visits are compliant with the law. We can offer expert advice on the processes and UK immigration rules and any other relevant laws and exemptions that may apply in relation to the individual circumstances. We can also recommend tax specialists to advise on employment tax rules.

Get in Touch

If you want more information about the items raised in this article, or about employment law generally, please contact Adrian Fryer.