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I plan to stay as a visiting teachers in two UK universities (for teaching purpose), and made some agreements. However, I wish to personally visit the universities before final agreement.

Obviously, I need a one-year visa. If I enter the UK by visa waiver, can I obtain this visa/permission to stay within the UK? Or I must enter the UK with one-year visitor visa to be eligible for working in universities (not paid of course).

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    This question doesn't really belong here, I think you will get better answers on the Travel Stack Exchange. Having said that, I don't think it is possible to apply for a Tier 2 visa, which you will presumably need, from inside the UK. To be clear, you do not qualify for a visitors visa, since you are doing work even though it is unpaid, and it is for longer than 6 months. I don't think UK Visas will like you entering the UK using visa waiver then attempting to get a visa. Best to get your visa sorted out before you depart.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 11:08
  • I don't think we can really answer this question. You will need to speak to the universities you have made arrangements with, and do so as soon as possible. They will be able to give specific advice for your case, and will almost certainly have someone experienced in such issues. Apart from anything else, it depends overwhelmingly on where you are from (only some countries have visa waivers) and on the details of your arrangement (eg, are you being paid?). Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 11:55
  • ...but having re-read the question, are you asking "can I visit on a normal visa waiver before coming back to take up the visiting teacher position"? If so, the answer is probably yes, providing your initial visit is short and you leave the country again before re-applying for the real visa. But check with the universities. Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 12:12
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    Make sure you get your passport stamped on leave from UK before you apply for your permanent visa! If it is not, they might think you overstayed and then it is painful (from personal experience).
    – Boris Bukh
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 13:16
  • @Andrew unless it is a sponsored Tier 2 visa, I am not sure the university has anything to do with the process.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 13:16

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I am assuming you are a US citizen.

The visa waiver scheme would cover a less than 6 month visit to the universities before the final agreement. Once you are ready to come over semi-permanently, you will need a Business Visitor Visa which can last up to a year for academic visitors. The application guidance says

Apply in the UK: You can only extend your visa if you’re already in the UK.

Switching for the visa waiver scheme to the Business Visitor Visa would not be considered an extension of the Business Visitor Visa, so you will need to apply from outside the UK.

It is worth noting that UKVI could get a bit touchy about you visiting the UK prior to applying for the visa. For example, if you spent 6 months in the UK on the visa waiver scheme, and then immediately applied for a year long Business Visitor Visa after returning to the US, they might reject your application. A week long visit and only applying for a 51 week Business Visitor Visa would probably appease them.

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