As technology advances to benefit our working lives, there has been an undeniable shift towards agile/flexible working. This can take many forms such as working from home or working in a different country. For UK immigration purposes, the issue of what type of visa an individual should get may arise if s/he is an employee of an international company but the Head Office is based in the UK, or they travel to the UK for both business and leisure.
Appendix V of the immigration rules applies to visitors who are coming to the UK for a temporary purpose (usually up to 6 months) for example as a tourist, to visit family or friends or to carry out a business activity. Visitors cannot work or study in the UK unless that specific work activity is permitted under the rules. Where the work carried out is paid, only permitted paid engagements are allowed under the Visitors Appendix 4 which states:
1 The following are permitted paid engagements:
(a) an academic who is highly qualified within his or her field of expertise may examine students and/or participate in or chair selection panels, if they have been invited by a UK Higher Education Institution or a UK based research or arts organisation as part of that institution or organisation’s quality assurance processes.
(b) An expert may give lectures in their subject area, if they have been invited by a UK Higher Education Institution; or a UK based research or arts organisation provided this does not amount to filling a teaching position for the host organisation.
(c) An overseas designated pilot examiner may assess UK based pilots to ensure they meet the national aviation regulatory requirements of other countries, if they have been invited by an approved training organisation based in the UK that is regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority for that purpose.
(d) A qualified lawyer may provide advocacy for a court or tribunal hearing, arbitration or other form of dispute resolution for legal proceedings within the UK, if they have been invited by a client.
(e) A professional artist, entertainer, musician or sports person may carry out an activity directly relating to their profession, if they have been invited by a creative (arts or entertainment) or sports organisation, agent or broadcaster based in the UK.
You will see that permitted paid engagements does not include a number of professionals (e.g. social influencer) who would likely carry out ad hoc activities or ordinary office duties. If the rules surrounding the visitor visa were to change, the question would be how such work activities would be regulated and enforced so as to avoid abuse of the rules. Also, what impact would this have on working migrants and UK employees here in the UK?
Going back to the original question above, the employee and employer must be aware of the immigration and employment issues when working abroad. The UK Immigration systems do not allow an employee to carry out paid work in the UK if their employer is a UK based company. Therefore, the employee's work contract must be clear to avoid these issues.