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Old May 7th, 2011, 05:03 AM   #1
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work permit - complex issue

I know this is off-topic. I wonder if people can point me to where I can get some detailed buesiness/work permit advice please.

I need to know when photography/videography becomes a business or work - and I appreciate people might not know here - and I have posted in some expat/visa forums.

The conditions of my UK work permit do not allow me to take on work other than in the same type of role I am in which is in IT. The UKBA web site says a Tier II permit holder is allowed to do voluntary work.

I have a hobby of photography/videography and have a website where the images are for sale (with no profit to me - although that is not clear to purchasers - and my staff have 'dobbed' me in). Note: no images have been sold so no revenue from this side of things.

I did do some work making videos for musical performances and my site said to contact me for pricing if people wanted similar work.

No payment has been made to me for labour - only to partly recover my costs ie: cost of consumables, (DVD Blanks) and bandwidth. Highest payment made to me was 50. Overall if I count depeciation of my equipment I am way behind on costs v. revenue. At the stagfe I am in - I am trying to get a port folio of work togther possibly for future reference.

My employer thinks this might contravene the terms of my visa as I am 'trading'. I see it as voluntary work. They have asked me not to contact UKBA for advice as they don't want to 'alert' them to a problem - I think that is stupid - we could sort this quickly in my opinion.

My website does look a bit like this is a business because one day I might I'd like to do it professionally, however currently I am not and have not been paid for labour - or made a profit from this.

I wonder if I am breaking the law, how a stamp collector who works on a UK work permit and sells their stamps for a hobby would get on. My thoughts are when your making a profit 'yes' - if not 'no'.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 06:53 AM   #2
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Re: work permit - complex issue

The only way to get a reliable answer on such questions would be to contact a lawyer specializing in the field. Anything anyone here has to offer is likely to be nothing more than an informed guess at best. Considering the potential costs of running afoul of the law, it would certainly seem to be worth the lawyer's fee for an hour or so visit.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 08:57 AM   #3
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Re: work permit - complex issue

Thanks I'll look into it.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 01:33 PM   #4
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Re: work permit - complex issue

You'd need to check with an immigration lawyer. However, I suspect you'd need to prove to the UK Border Agency that you are doing no more than covering your costs and you'd need to keep documentation. I'm not sure if this what they have in mind for "voluntary work", but a specialist lawyer would know case history.

Selling stamps isn't a hobby, collecting is and you may have demonstrate that you're not working as a stamp dealer and any sales are part of your collecting.
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Old May 10th, 2011, 11:49 AM   #5
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Re: work permit - complex issue

I am not a lawyer but pretty clearly you are trading as a photographer/videographer. To be running a business you do not need to be making any profit at all (as many a business owner can tell you:-). If you are selling stuff you are running a business even if you are making an overall loss.

Voluntary work means doing work for a charity (non-profit) without charge.

If you want to build a portfolio then it's simple don't charge a penny. As your largest payment has been 50 then you are hardly going to miss the income.

Theoretically you are doing a UK/EU citizen out of a job by taking on paid work & all countries controls on immigrant labour. You are lucky that you are currently able to work in a sphere where there is a skills shortage.
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