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UK permitted paid engagement visa application

If you have been invited to the UK as an expert in your profession you may be able to travel using a ‘permitted paid engagement visa’.  Our expert immigration solicitors can guide you through the entire permitted paid engagement visa application process, so everything is completely clear.
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Permitted paid engagements

There are five kinds of role that qualify as a ‘permitted paid engagement’.

1.    You are an academic

If you are an academic and highly qualified in your field, you could be permitted the visa to come and perform academic functions. These might include examining students or taking part in a selection panel. Whatever the role is, you would need to be invited by a UK Higher Education Institution or a UK-based research or arts organisation.

2.    You are an expert

If you hold special expertise, you may be entitled to give lectures in your subject area. You would need to be invited by a UK Higher Education Institution or a UK-based research or arts organisation, so long as this does not amount to filling a teaching position.

3.    You are an overseas designated pilot examiner

Sometimes overseas pilots are called on to assess UK-based pilots, to ensure they meet the national aviation regulatory requirements of other countries. To be eligible you need to have been invited by an approved UK-based training organisation that is regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority to carry out assessments.

4.    You are a qualified lawyer

If you are a qualified lawyer you may visit to provide advocacy, arbitration or some other form of dispute resolution. To do so you need to have been invited by a client within the UK.

5.    You are a professional artist

If you are a professional artist, entertainer, musician or sports person you can apply in order to carry out an activity directly relating to your profession. In order to do this you need to be invited by a relevant broadcaster or organisation based in the UK.

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Is a permitted paid engagement visa always necessary?

Not everyone travelling to the UK needs a permitted paid engagement visa to participate in activities with a higher education institution, provide advocacy or take part in arts, sporting or entertainment activities.

Only passport holders from certain countries need a permitted paid engagement visa. The passport holders that require a permitted paid engagement visa are also known as ‘visa nationals’.

General requirements

You can apply for a permitted paid engagement visa as long as you meet the following requirements:

  • You are invited by a UK-based organisation or client
  • You want to come to the UK to do specific paid work without having to be sponsored under the points-based visa system
  • You are from a country that is not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland

You also need to:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Be visiting the UK for no more than one month
  • Leave the UK at the end of your visit
  • Have enough money to support and house yourself without help from public funds
  • Show that you can pay for your return or onward journey
  • Not be in transit to a country outside the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands

There are also several additional eligibility requirements for a permitted paid engagements visit or ‘leave to enter’ visa. Your permitted paid engagement must:

  • Be arranged before you travel to the UK
  • Be declared as part of your application for a visit visa or leave to enter
  • Be able to prove you’ve had a formal invitation
  • Relate to your area of expertise and occupation overseas

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What documentation do you need?

When you apply you also need to provide:

  • A current passport or other valid travel identification. Your passport must have a blank page for your visa
  • Proof that you can support yourself during your trip with bank statements or payslips for the last six months
  • Details of where you intend to stay and your travel plans. It’s not advisable to pay for accommodation or travel until you have received your visa
  • The formal invitation from the UK-based organisation or authority you will be paid by

You may also be asked to provide evidence of your professional status in your home country, depending on the engagement.

Supporting your application

Certain additional documents can also be provided to support your permitted paid engagement visa application. These are an invitation letter from:

  • A relevant UK-based organisation, such as a higher education institution
  • An organisation in the creative arts or entertainment industries
  • A sports organisation
  • A research organisation
  • An aviation training organisation regulated by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority

 Additional documentation for lecturers and examiners

  • Evidence of your publications in the field you specialise in
  • Evidence of previous lectures that you’ve given on that subject
  • A letter from your employer confirming where you work and your area of expertise

Additional documentation for entertainers, artists and sports people

  • Publicity material for performances, screenings concerts, talks, readings and exhibitions
  • Evidence of any awards you’ve won
  • Copies of media coverage and reviews of your work
  • Proof of recent performances

Additional documentation for air pilot examiners

  • A document to show membership of your own country’s national aviation authority, such as the Federal Aviation Authority in the USA

Additional documentation for lawyers

  • A practising certificate or certificate of good standing or equivalent document

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What you are allowed to do while you are in the UK

You can be invited by a UK-based organisation or client to apply your particular expertise the following ways:

  • Be a student examiner or assessor
  • Take part in selection panels as a highly qualified academic
  • Give lectures at a higher education institution, as long as it is not a part-time or full-time role
  • Examine UK-based pilots so they meet the standards of the country you come from
  • Provide advocacy in a particular area of law
  • Take part in arts, entertainment or sporting activities including broadcasting
  • Take part in fashion modelling assignments

You can also partake in activities that relate to your work or business overseas, such as attending meetings.

What you can’t do

There are certain things you are not allowed to do during your stay in the UK on a permitted paid engagement visa. You can’t:

  • Undertake specific paid work unrelated to your main job or area of expertise at home
  • Sell merchandise, other than what’s allowed by your visa
  • Extend this visa or switch to another visa
  • Live in the UK for an extended period
  • Get public funds
  • Study for more than 30 days, if studying is the main purpose of your visit you should instead apply for a student visa
  • Marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership
  • Bring family members with you on your application, they must apply separately

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If you want to stay for longer than one month

If you want to stay in the UK longer than the one month allowed on the permitted paid engagement visa, you need to apply for a different type of visa.

If you are not intending to work or study a visitor visa may be your best alternative as visitor visas remain valid for six months.

If you want to work or study in the UK you might be able to apply for a Tier 2 or Tier 4 visa, depending on your circumstances.

We know it’s a lot to take in, so don’t worry. Our expert solicitors can help you find out which is the right visa for you, and help to assess your eligibility.

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