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Desley Sherwin
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EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement - Short term work in the UK

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With the Brexit/Withdrawal Agreement coming into effect, freedom of movement between the EU and UK has ended. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens entering the UK for work purposes may need to apply for a visa through the UK’s points-based immigration system. This depends on the nature and length of their visit.

Rules for UK visitors going to the EU will be very similar – you can’t just expect to turn up at a ski resort and do chalet work, or take your band on tour. Please check the visa requirement rules for each country as relevant.

For visits under 6 months’ duration, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens wanting to work in the UK need to be aware that business activities are highly restricted. The rules at www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules set out what they can or can’t do when visiting the UK. Those rules are very detailed, so check them very carefully.

Just by way of a few examples, a visa will not be required:

1. In relation to general business activities, when a visitor to the UK for less than 90 days may:

  • (a) attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews
  • (b) give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches, provided that these are not organised as commercial events and will not make a profit for the organiser
  • (c) negotiate and sign deals and contracts
  • (d) attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling
  • (e) carry out site visits and inspections
  • (f) gather information for their employment overseas
  • (g) be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK.

2. In relation to intra-corporate activities, when a visitor to the UK for less than 90 days who is an employee of an overseas based company may:

  1. (a) advise and consult
  2. (b) trouble-shoot
  3. (c) provide training, and/or
  4. (d) share skills and knowledge

on a specific internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group, provided no work is carried out directly with clients.

3. Visitors to the UK may take part in the following activities in relation to their employment overseas:

  • (a) a translator and/or interpreter may translate and/or interpret in the UK as an employee of an enterprise located overseas
  • (b) personal assistants and bodyguards may support an overseas business person in carrying out permitted activities, provided they will attend the same event/s as the business person and are employed by them outside the UK. However, they must not provide personal care or domestic work for the business person
  • (c) a tour group courier, contracted to a company with its headquarters outside the UK, may enter and depart the UK with a tour group organised by their company
  • (d) a journalist, correspondent, producer or cameraman may gather information for an overseas publication, programme or film
  • (e) archaeologists may take part in a one-off archaeological excavation
  • (f) a professor from an overseas academic institution may accompany students to the UK as part of a ‘study abroad’ programme, and may provide a small amount of teaching to the students at the host organisation (however this must not amount to filling a permanent teaching role for that institution), or
  • (g) market researchers and analysts may conduct market research or analysis for an enterprise located outside the UK.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but just provides some examples of the very specific provisions that are now in place post-Brexit. It is really important that short-term visitors to the UK who want to undertake some work here check the rules very carefully.

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