UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) is exploring options to make the immigration system for visitors clearer and more accessible. It is envisaged that the existing routes will be reduced from 15 visitor visa routes to approximately four in order to provide a more transparent and flexible framework.

No current visitor route will be 'deleted' as such, but the various routes will be absorbed under new categories. These are likely to be:

  • Visitor
  • Permitted paid engagements
  • Marriage
  • Transit

Although there is no set date for implementing the above proposals, these are expected to come in by April 2015.

In the meantime, changes to some of the visitor routes include the addition of the following three new activities to the list of a Business Visitor's permitted activities:

  • to share knowledge or experience relevant to, or to advise on, an international project that is being led from the UK as an overseas scientist or researcher, provided the visitor remains paid and employed overseas and is not carrying out research in the United Kingdom;
  • to advise a UK client on litigation and/ or international transactions as an employee of an international law firm which has offices in the UK, provided the visitor remains paid and employed overseas. This has been welcome news for lawyers working in international law firms; and
  • to allow graduates of an overseas nursing school to be admitted as business visitors in order to the sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) which is required before any overseas nurse can work in the UK under the Tier 2 route.