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I have accepted a 3-month internship within the UK. I am signing a 1 year lease but am confused on how to get a visa. Do I need to get one before leaving the US? If so, what kind? The company might offer me a job, but hasn't yet, so I'm not sponsored.

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    Please describe the internship in exact detail – Crazydre Jul 9 '17 at 17:41
  • @DJClayworth Not that simple. Certain work may be performed visa-free, but only for 1 or 3 months rather than 6 – Crazydre Jul 9 '17 at 17:51
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    Can you cancel or sublet the 1 year lease after 3 months? If not, it may not be a good idea. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 9 '17 at 18:20
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    Internships are sponsored activities just like work permits are, have you discussed this with your sponsor's Authorising Officer? I smell a bounce... – Gayot Fow Jul 10 '17 at 0:14
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    @PatriciaShanahan a 1 year lease to a visitor is illegal, please read gov.uk/government/collections/… – Gayot Fow Jul 10 '17 at 6:11
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The list of activities you are allowed to do on a Standard Visitor visa (or a visa free passport, such as in the case of US citizens) is available in detail on the Gov.UK website. The only reasonably fitting activity would be:

23 Employees of an overseas company or organisation may receive training from a UK based company or organisation in work practices and techniques which are required for the visitor’s employment overseas and not available in their home country.

However assuming you are not an employee of the US branch of the UK company, you are not allowed to participate in an internship as a regular visitor. In this case you should apply for a work visa. The exact type of the work visa must be clarified with your employer, e.g. you might be eligible for a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Government Authorised Exchange) visa.

You might be tempted to ignore the advice above and attempt to enter visa-free, lying about the true goals of your visit to the immigration officer. However be aware that such an approach is highly unrecommended and may end up with you banned from visiting the UK for many years to come.

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Using the Gov.UK portal, and with my legal head on, I suggest you read If you want to work in the UK in that link. Your internship would seem to be analogous to "work experience", in that its not permanent, is not brief and is likely to be unpaid so I suggest your course of action is to do what it says there Apply for a temporary worker visa if you want to work in the UK for a short time

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    Your answer would be better if you directly linked the mentioned page in your answer, so people don't have to look for it. Also consider quoting the relevant text directly in your answer, so people don't have to visit the site. It also might become dead after a certain time and then your answer would become useless. – problemofficer Jul 24 '17 at 12:03
  • its linked above, and I name the author. I didn't see the point in repeating the link. However since you mention the reason for quoting the text, I will consider doing so in future. – bigbadmouse Jul 26 '17 at 7:52

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