I want to bring a highly skilled subject matter expert (SME) in aviation regulations to the UK from Canada to provide 2 weeks of classroom-based lectures in his area of expertise. We are paying him to develop the 2 week training program which he will be doing in Canada.

The content will then be delivered in our classroom at no cost other than his travel expenses so he will not be paid for any work in the UK. The two week session is a free, bolt-on session to a longer 10-week training course.

Can somebody tell me which visa would best suit this scenario?

  • just to clarify (because, oddly, it matters) is a british firm paying the Canadian human directly, or getting an invoice from a Canadian firm that presumably pays the Canadian human themselves? Jan 16, 2019 at 12:41
  • Is your company charging people to attend the lectures?
    – MJeffryes
    Jan 16, 2019 at 12:55
  • Hello Kate, we would be invoicing his company. Thanks for the question
    – Tom
    Jan 16, 2019 at 13:23
  • 2
    @Tom I think Ari is asking what SME stands for.
    – MJeffryes
    Jan 16, 2019 at 14:15
  • 1
    @AriBrodsky SME is subject matter expert Jan 16, 2019 at 16:39

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, I think that this scenario falls through the cracks of what is allowed by any kind of temporary leave to enter the UK. Here are the possible routes, and an explanation as to why your contractor won't qualify.

Business – general activities

5 A visitor may:

(a) attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews;

(b) give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not organised as commercial events and will not make a profit for the organiser;

(c) negotiate and sign deals and contracts;

(d) attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling;

(e) carry out site visits and inspections;

(f) gather information for their employment overseas;

(g) be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK.

Since the visitor would be giving these lectures as part of a course to which you're charging students for, he can't qualify as a business visitor. You said that "technically" this is a free bolt on to the course, but I think that is a legal fiction that is irrelevant here. The point is that without having paid, your students wouldn't be going to the talks.

Work-related training

24 An employee of an overseas based training company may deliver a short series of training to employees of a UK based company, where the trainer is employed by an overseas business contracted to deliver global training to the international corporate group to which the UK based company belongs.

Since your students aren't employees of a single UK based company which is contracting the training, this doesn't apply.

Permitted paid engagement

(b) An expert may give lectures in their subject area, if they have been invited by a UK Higher Education Institution; or a UK based research or arts organisation provided this does not amount to filling a teaching position for the host organisation.

If you aren't a qualifying organisation, then this isn't a permitted paid engagement.

(c) An overseas designated pilot examiner may assess UK based pilots to ensure they meet the national aviation regulatory requirements of other countries, if they have been invited by an approved training organisation based in the UK that is regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority for that purpose.

You've said that your visitor is an aviation expert, so this paragraph could be applicable. Obviously, you'll know if you're an approved training organisation.

None of the temporary work visas are applicable, unless the visitor is in the arts or entertainment industry, or is a sportsman. It's certainly possible I've overlooked something here, so I'd encourage you to consult with a solicitor.

  • this is why I asked about there being a company. It comes close on #24, and a chat with a solicitor could be useful. It's not super clear to me that all the students must work for the same UK company, for example, but at that level of detail you can't rely on the internet Jan 16, 2019 at 14:31
  • @KateGregory Yes I agree completely! There's a lot of subtlety to the rules that only a qualified expert would know. But the scenario reminded me of this question, and I think it's in a danger area which requires expert knowledge.
    – MJeffryes
    Jan 16, 2019 at 14:40
  • Hello @KateGregory MJeffryes Ari at el. My next port of call is our solicitor. Thanks for your help wise words. I will let you know if we have any break through's.
    – Tom
    Jan 17, 2019 at 9:33

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