An imminent statement on the next stage of the UK’s points-based immigration system could see non-EU nationals banned from the country for 10 years for attending meetings here.
Legal experts have warned that visa-less staff catching up with any work while visiting the UK could land themselves and their employers in hot water.
The Home Office insisted that Tier 1 of the new points-based system, which came into force last month, made provision for staff visiting for business purposes without a visa from a sponsoring employer.
However, a spokeswoman refused to rule out changes to this situation in April’s announcement on Tier 2, which will come into effect “in the third quarter of this year”.
Lawyers are warning employers to be vigilant about applying for visas.
Phillip Trott, partner at law firm Bates, Wells and Braithwaite, said: “If you come to the UK for business, and plan to work, without a visa, you could be in breach of the law and face a ban of up to 10 years.
“If [an employee] plans to work at all. We would advise you to apply for a visa, rather than face the consequences.”
Caroline Blaydon, immigration specialist at law firm Charles Russell, said: “UK employers must tread very carefully and ensure that they are operating within the law when bringing in overseas employees, even for short periods.”