Moving abroad / Moving to the UK

Can I Work Remotely in the UK? What You Need to Know

Can I Work Remotely in the UK?

The UK does not offer a DIGITAL NOMAD visa, but if you’re wondering whether you can work remotely in the UK on a visit visa here’s the answer. It comes down to the genuineness test and whether you’ll be taking part in permitted activities.

Keep in mind you are allowed to stay in the UK for up to 6 months at a time without a visa. You will be asked by the border guards to give an address where you’ll be staying and when you plan to depart.

If you are planning on staying longer than 6 months, plan to work remotely or look for work,  or obtain a visitor visa, then ask yourself these questions.

A. Are You a Genuine Visitor to the UK?

• A genuine visitor will leave the UK at the end of their visit.
• A genuine visitor will NOT live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home;
• A genuine visitor is honestly seeking entry to the UK or for a purpose that is permitted under the visitor route .

Ask yourself if your remote working in the UK meets the above criteria.

B. Permitted Activities

You must satisfy the Border guard that you are a genuine visitor and that you intend to only undertake permitted activities

What are the permitted activities?

• Tourism, leisure and volunteering
• Educational exchange visits (restrictions apply)
• Recreational study (restrictions apply)
• Volunteering (restrictions apply)
• General Business Activities (restrictions apply)
• Intra-Corporate Activities (restrictions apply)
• Manufacture and supply of goods to the UK (restrictions apply)
• Clients of UK Export companies
• Overseas role requiring specific activity in the UK. (Translators, bodyguards, tour operators, cameramen, market researchers, drivers. Restrictions apply).
• Work-related training
• Science and Academia
• Legal (expert witness, overseas lawyers)
• Religion (for preaching or pastoral work)
• Creative (An artist, entertainer, or musician restrictions apply)
• Sportspeople (restrictions apply)
• Medical treatment, organ donation
• Study as a visitor (6 months or less, restrictions apply)
• Transiting through the UK

Looking for Work or Working Remotely in the UK

If you make successive Visits to the UK to look for work or to work remotely, keep this in mind.

The Border Force Officer will be able to check your travel history, including the length of your visits in the UK and how frequently you are returning. They will assess if you are, in effect, living in the UK through frequent or successive visits or making the UK your main home.

They will look at:

  • The purpose of the visit and intended length of stay stated
  • The number of visits made over the past 12 months, including the length of stay on each occasion
  • The time elapsed since the last visit, and if this amounts to the individual spending more time in the UK than in their home country
  • The purpose of return trips to the applicant’s home country or trips out of the Common Travel Area and if these are used only to seek re-entry to the UK
  • The links you have with your home country or ordinary country of residence -consider especially any long-term commitments and where the applicant is
    registered for tax purposes
  • Evidence the UK is your main place of residence, for example: if you have registered with a general practitioner (GP) or if you send your children to UK schools
  • History of previous applications
The Rule of 6 Months “There is no specified maximum period, which an individual can spend in the UK in any period such as ‘6 months in 12 months’ (as long as each visit does not exceed the maximum period for that visit, normally 6 months). However, if it is clear from an applicant’s travel history that they are seeking to remain in the UK for extended periods or making the UK their home you should refuse their application.”

Work Remotely in the UK

Can I Work Remotely in the UK Q&A?

Q. I am self-employed and run my own business in the States. Can I run my business on a visit visa in the UK?

A. It depends. Does your visit pass the genuineness test?
Are you in the UK as a genuine visitor doing incidental work?
Or was your purpose in coming to the UK was to work remotely?
See prohibited activities. Self-employment is prohibited

Q. I am employed by an American employer in the States. Can I work remotely for my company while staying in London?

A. It depends. Does your visit pass the genuineness test?
Are you in the UK as a genuine visitor doing incidental work?
Or was your purpose in coming to the UK was to work remotely?

General Remote Working Guidelines

  • Visitors are permitted to undertake activities relating to their employment overseas remotely whilst they are in the UK, such as responding to emails or answering phone calls.
  • The main purpose of coming to the UK should be to undertake a permitted activity, rather than to specifically work remotely from the UK.
  • If you intend to spend a large proportion of your time in the UK remote working, you should be genuinely employed overseas and not seeking to work in the UK.
  • You also shouldn’t plan to live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits.

Can I Look for a Job While in the UK?

There seems to be no legal guidance that searching for a job while in the UK on a tourist visa is illegal.

While visitor visas are not meant to be used as a vehicle to find work in the UK, visitor visa holders are not expressly prohibited from searching for work while they’re in the UK. Before Covid, British employers often preferred to meet candidates in person before they hire them. This has changed with the pandemic. So searching for work from inside UK may be more effective than trying to find a job from overseas. However, if you do choose to search for work while you’re on a visitor visa, you should keep the following in mind:

Never conceal or falsify your reason for visiting the UK from an immigration officer. This may be catch-22 because once you state that you are looking for work you may be denied entry.

You will be expected to prove your intention to return to your country when your visitor visa expires irrespective of the outcome of your search for work.

The Right to Work in the UK Guidelines

Getting employment in the UK usually requires the right-to-work in the UK.
The right to work in the UK is granted to those who hold:
• A work permit
• Leave to Remain (LTR)
• Indefinite Leave to Remain
• British or Irish Citizenship
• EU Citizenship having arrived in the UK before Jan 1, 2021
• some other visa that explicitly permits work in the UK.

This information was obtained via a post by Angela (with consent) in the Facebook group, Americans in the United Kingdom. If you need further guidance join the group to ask questions!