The UK immigration rules provide for a recently reduced number of routes to enable foreign national individuals to come to the UK, or foreign companies to send representatives to the UK, to establish or join a business operation and, once the business is established, to transfer employees from overseas or to recruit new skilled workers in the UK.
The rules also make provision for foreign nationals to visit to UK for short business related trips, during which they may undertake, for example, initial fact finding missions, attend conferences or training sessions, and negotiate contracts with potential suppliers and clients.
The UK government is in the process of a complete overhaul of the economic migration system. It has introduced a tough new \'points based system\' which the government states is more objective, transparent and simpler than the previous routes for economic migration. There is now a \'zero tolerance\' approach being taken by the British immigration authorities. This means that any breaches of the relevant immigration rules can have potentially very serious and long term repercussions on the individuals and the companies found to be in breach of the rules. Since, the government can and frequently does change the rules and official policy guidance relating to immigration, sometimes without any prior warning, it is advisable to seek up-to-date legal advice and assistance on immigration issues before taking any steps to establish UK business operations.