Short-term study visa seems to fit the bill but I want to be extra careful as I may end up extending my stay. I've done my research already but am seeking to hear a few anecdotal experiences similar to mine before I apply for the visa.

I'm not getting paid (which suggests short-term study) but I'd like as much freedom as possible and I'm going to be receiving a grant from home (in North Carolina). Would that count as compensation?

What's the call?

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    Short term study seems not to fit the bill whatsoever, since your question does not indicate that you "have been offered a place on a course in the UK at an accepted place of study." Another confusing part of your question is the assertion that you've "done your research already." What are you going to be doing in the UK "as a visiting researcher" if the research is already done? Finally, why do you suppose that the Standard Visitor visa is not applicable? – phoog Mar 13 '17 at 14:35
  • I thnk what he meant was that he's researched the visa possibilities already, not that he's completed his academic research. – ouflak Mar 15 '17 at 8:12

It really depends on what you mean by "as much freedom as possible". As you've presubably already looked into the Short-term study visa, you already know that you can't work, extend the visa, or bring along any dependents. If you think you might have to extend, you should either plan to leave the UK and return again (careful not to do this too many times or it raises flags), or get a more appropriate longer-term visa.

I'm presuming your grant from North Carolina is directly tied to your research, or is part of a sabbatical. If not, you will have to explain/defend your source of income in perhaps greater detail.

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Assuming you are a US citizen, then you do not need a visa for an academic visit of 6 months or less (https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa/y/usa/work/six_months_or_less).

You can stay in the UK for up to 6 months without a visa, but you can only do certain academic or business-related activities, eg: ... do academic research or accompany students on a study abroad programme

As a US citizen, you also do not need a visa for visiting as a tourist for up to 6 months.

If your goal is to visit the UK for more than 6 months in a 12 month period, then you will need to apply for a visa. The short-term study visa, however, is only good for 6 months, unless you are taking an English language class (which I am guessing you would not be).

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