Changes for International students in the UK due to Coronavirus
Posted on May 25, 2020
The current Coronavirus pandemic has put those staying on a student or work visa in different countries in a confusing situation. Some of these countries have imposed travel restrictions while some countries have suspended the processing of visas. Some countries have done both.
Students who have finalized their plans to study abroad are in a similar dilemma. International students who have got admission to universities in the UK or are already studying there are unsure about their position regarding immigration. This is because universities in the country have currently resorted to distance learning. Here are some answers to the common issues facing international students in the UK at present.
Students whose visas have expired
Students whose visas have expired or are about to expire will not be able to leave the UK due to travel restrictions. However, the Home Office has decided to extend their visas till May 31 without the need to submit an immigration application or pay your fees. Students will however need to fill a form and send it to the Home Office.
Students who submitted their application for visa extension just before the immigration offices were closed
All the UK visas and immigration (UKVI) offices are currently closed. Students who applied for visa extension will not be charged with overstaying and can stay till May 31 on a free extension.
Students who are absent from their studies
Educational sponsors are typically required to track the attendance of UK Tier 4 study visa holders and report foreign students who do not attend their course. The Home Office has confirmed in the current situation that students who are no longer attending classroom-based learning or who are absent as a result of COVID-19 due to related illness or travel will not be subject to enforcement action.
Students who have been given immigration approval, but cannot travel to the UK
If you have got admission in a course in the UK, you’ve been given a CAS, and your Tier 4 study visa has been approved, and you want to start studying but you can’t fly to the UK, then your option is to undertake remote online learning with your educational provider. Once the travel restrictions have been lifted and your course resumed, you’ll need to check if your entry clearance is still valid, if not you will have to apply for a new one.
Tier 4 visa holders who have undertaken distance learning
UK government ‘s advice is that sponsors of Tier 4 can continue to sponsor their existing Tier 4 visa students who are studying through distance learning, whether they are in the UK or in another country. In addition, academic sponsors (i.e. the British school or university) are not required to withdraw sponsorships for any new Tier 4 visa students who have not been able to travel to the UK and are making use of distance learning.
If you are an international student who wishes to study at a UK educational institution but can only do so through distance learning, you need not apply for a Tier 4 visa as you cannot enter the UK at present.
Travelling to the UK once travel restrictions are lifted for study
You will not be eligible to apply for permission to travel to the UK for study until face-to-face classes resume, and application centers around the world re-open. There could be delays in processing applications due to backlogs. This may mean that you cannot continue your course on time; in such circumstances, you may have to undertake distance learning.
The Coronavirus pandemic has put the plans of international students in the UK on hold temporarily. Students are advised to contact the relevant government authorities to find answers to their queries and help with their immigration issues.