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New Immigration Rules expand activities allowed for visitors

12 December 2023

On 7 December 2023 the Home Office published new Immigration Rules. These expand the range of activities visitors are allowed to do in the UK from 31 January 2024, including remote work, research, provision of legal services and paid engagements. The Youth Mobility Scheme is also amended to include citizens of Uruguay and to restructure the arrangements for Japanese and South Korean citizens.

Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 246 does not include any of the recently-announced policies designed to reduce net migration, due to be in effect during Spring 2024. These will be the subject of a future statement of changes.

The points likely to be of most interest to employers are outlined below.

Visitor route

Provisions are made more liberal for visa nationals who apply for their visitor visa on or after 31 January 2024, and for non-visa nationals who enter the UK as a visitor on or after this date.

As confirmed in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, further enhancements to visitor provisions are due to be rolled out in 2024 and beyond, in line with the terms of future international trade deals.

Intra-corporate activities

Individuals employed abroad who visit a group business in the UK will now be allowed to carry out the following activities directly with clients:

  • Advising and consulting;
  • Trouble-shooting;
  • Providing training; and
  • Sharing skills and knowledge.

The activities must be undertaken to deliver a project or service on behalf of the UK group business (not the business abroad), and must be incidental to the person’s employment abroad.

This lifts a significant current restriction, which limits intra-corporate activities to those that are for the benefit of the group the visitor is employed by.

Remote working

The Rules are amended to confirm and clarify what is currently only contained in guidance. The new Rule states that visitors are allowed to work remotely on activities related to their overseas employment, provided this is not the primary purpose of their visit.

This wording removes the existing ambiguity around the extent to which a visitor may engage in work activities for their overseas employer while they are on holiday or on a business trip to the UK. Currently, the guidance states that visitors are permitted to undertake activities ‘relating to’ their overseas employment, such as responding to emails or answering phone calls. The new Rules contain no restriction on the range of work activities that may be carried out remotely on behalf of an overseas employer, which is a welcome development.

Providing legal services

Overseas lawyers are currently only allowed to advise a UK-based client on specific international litigation and/or an international transaction.

Allowed activities for overseas lawyers are significantly expanded upon under the new Rules, to include the provision of legal services, including:

  • Advice;
  • Appearing in arbitrations;
  • Acting as an arbitrator/mediator;
  • Acting as an expert witness;
  • Appearing in court in jurisdictions which allow short-term call or where qualified in that jurisdiction;
  • Conferences, teaching;
  • Providing advocacy for a court or tribunal hearing;
  • Litigation; and
  • Transactional legal services, including drafting contracts.

The requirement for the services to be for a UK-based client has been dropped. This is a pragmatic change that recognises the complexity of the client parties and practices often involved in legal work.

Permitted paid engagements

Being a speaker at a conference is included as a permitted paid engagement (PPE).

The route is also being absorbed into the standard visitor route, meaning that individuals who need to come to the UK for PPE purposes may enter the UK for six months instead of one. They will however be required to arrange their engagement before entry, and complete it within 30 days of their arrival. Individuals intending to carry out a PPE must be over the age of 18 on the date they arrive in the UK.

Logistically, this change has the benefit of enabling PPE visitors to use an eGate on arrival rather than having to be stamped in for one month by a Border Force official. It also avoids the possibility of being incorrectly landed as a standard visitor, without the relevant permission to complete the planned engagement.


Academics, scientists and researchers will be allowed to carry out research in the UK as a visitor, provided this is for a specific project directly relating to their employment abroad. Under the current visitor Rules, research is restricted to independent research and research for an academic’s own purposes while they are on a sabbatical from their home institution.

International Sportspersons

From 31 January 2024 International Sportspersons applying to come to the UK for 12 months or less may make their entry clearance from any country they are in, provided they can demonstrate they are there lawfully and carrying out activities as a sportsperson. This change corrects a previous drafting error.

Youth Mobility Scheme

The following changes are in effect for applications made on or after 31 January 2024:

  • Citizens of Uruguay are eligible to apply under the scheme;
  • The upper age limit for citizens of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) is raised from 30 to 35;
  • Japanese and South Korean citizens may apply without firstly having an invitation; and
  • The allocation of places for Japanese citizens has increased to 6,000, and to 5,000 for South Korean citizens.

Amended definition of ‘partner’

For applications made on or after 31 January 2024, the definition of ‘partner’ is being clarified to confirm that for unmarried partners, there is no requirement for the couple to have been living together for at least two years. It is sufficient for a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership to have existed for at least this period of time.

This change aligns with the wording already present elsewhere in the Rules. However, it is useful for employers to be aware of this helpful recent change as it covers partners of individuals in work routes.

If you have any queries relating to these developments, get in touch with a member of our Immigration Team.

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