The immigration system of the United Kingdom provides various solutions to help employers of foreign nationals. Requirements, processing times, employment eligibility, and benefits for accompanying family members vary by visa classification. Key elements are a points-based system to determine fulfillment of visa conditions and employer sponsorship via sponsorship licenses.
Business visitors to the UK require a Business Visitor Visa prior to entry, unless they are visa exempt based on their nationality. The visa is valid for up to six cumulative months in a 12-month period. However, the UK authorities closely scrutinize the length and frequency of intended business visits. Generally, business trips are expected to last only a few days. Longer stays may be granted based on appropriate evidence.
The main work authorization categories are the Tier 2 ICT category, available for intracompany transfers; and the Tier 2 (General) category, suitable for skilled foreign national employees where the position cannot be filled locally.
Other work authorization options include the Tier 1 (Investor), Tier 4 (Students) and Tier 5 (Temporary Workers). Dependents can accompany the foreign national under these categories.
Note that since immigration rules have changed significantly over the past five years, the foreign national’s immigration history in the UK may impact the application options for certain immigration categories.
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