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University of Bath

Coronavirus - information for Tier 4 visa holders

Keep up to date with any relevant immigration advice during the coronavirus outbreak. Updated 29/06/2020

Immigration guidance

Full guidance for Tier 4 students is available and sets out temporary policy concessions for Tier 4 Sponsors, Tier 4 students and short-term study students in response to the outbreak of Covid-19. The concessions are kept under regular review and will be withdrawn once the situation returns to normal. Please read the immigration guidance carefully and take action if needed. If you have any questions, or need any support with this, please contact us by email.

The University is also providing updated advice to students regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

Graduate Route

The Home Office have released further guidance about the eligibility of the Graduate Route if you are studying by distance learning for Semester 1 of the 2020/21 academic year. You can find details of this on our Working After Your Studies guide.

Current students

Visa applications and extensions

The Home Office has released updated immigration guidance for visa holders who cannot return home due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The guidance offers extensions until 31 July 2020 for visas that expire between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020. If you did not receive the previous extension offered until 31 May 2020, the extension is not automatic: you will need to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team to update your immigration record if this applies to you. You will need to provide:

  • Your full name (including any middle names)
  • Date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Nationality
  • Your previous visa reference number – this is your BRP number found in the top right corner of your BRP card, or if you do not have a BRP, the number on the top right corner of your visa in your passport
  • Why you can’t go back to your country, for example if the border has closed

We recommend that you contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team as soon as possible with the above information.

If you had the extension granted until 31 May 2020, you do not need to do anything - the new extension until 31 July 2020 is automatic.

Studying and attendance

Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, UKVI will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies.

As face to face teaching has currently been suspended, we will be monitoring attendance via coursework submissions during this period. However, if you have left the UK, or are self-isolating as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, please request an authorised absence for this period.

Please also liaise with your department with regards to any teaching you will miss. Please be reassured, your attendance record with regards to your Tier 4 visa will not be negatively affected if you are required to miss teaching due to the coronavirus outbreak.

If you are currently completing a placement year and cannot attend due to the evolving situation with Covid-19, please request an authorised absence for this period. You can request the absence for up to 60 days. This will not negatively affect your attendance record with regards to your Tier 4 visa. Please be aware we are currently receiving a high volume of absence requests and these may take longer than usual for us to process.

Please make sure you also keep your employer informed. If you are still working for your employer remotely, please ensure that you update your contact details on SAMIS on the web and submit an authorised absence as mentioned above.

Work

If you are working alongside your studies, unfortunately the 20 hours per week work limit in term time still applies if you are a Tier 4 visa holder. You are still expected to be studying full-time even though face to face teaching has stopped. The Home Office have introduced an exception for Tier 4 visa holders if you are working or volunteering for the NHS as a doctor, nurse or paramedic. In these cases (and only in these cases), you can work more than the 20 hours per week even in semester time.

If your employer furloughs you, they will let you know whether you are eligible for payment under the coronavirus job retention scheme for furloughed workers. At the moment, this scheme has not been added to the definition of “public funds” and therefore receiving funds as part of this scheme is not a breach of your Tier 4 visa conditions. Any hours for which you are furloughed do not count towards the 20 hours per week work limit.

Police Registration

Due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, Avon and Somerset Police have suspended all face to face police registration appointments until further notice. As such, Tier 4 students who would normally be subject to police registration who are extending their leave in the UK during the period in which the Government advises not to leave home unless it is essential to do so, are not required to register with their local police force after leave is granted, or if any other change of circumstances that normally requires police to be notified applies.

This policy is applicable to students applying from 21 March 2020 whilst social distancing restrictions are in place. Such students must register with the police or update their information once social distancing measures are lifted.

Students who have already registered with the police and are making a new application in the UK should submit their Police Registration Certificate along with any other documents in support of their application as normal.

Arriving and leaving the UK

Before you travel to the UK, please read the Government guidance carefully as you may need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the UK. The UK Government has recently updated this guidance to specify which countries will not need to quarantine on arrival in the UK.

If you have decided to leave the UK for a period of time due to the evolving situation with Covid-19, please could you request an authorised absence for the period you will be away. You can request the absence for up to 60 days. This will not negatively affect your attendance record with regards to your Tier 4 visa. Please be aware we are currently receiving a high volume of absence requests and these may take longer than usual for us to process. Please also make sure that you update your address and contact details on SAMIS.

We recommend that you contact your Director of Studies and/or personal tutor with regards to any study time you may miss to ensure you are able to stay on top of your academic work.

If you will be leaving the UK for a period of time and are not sure when you will be returning, you will need to check with the accommodation team on campus what you will need to do with regards to your belongings. If you are renting privately and will be leaving the UK for a period of time and are not sure when you will be returning, you will need to check with your landlord what you will need to do with regards to your belongings.

Applicants

Visa applications

As most UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19), your immigration status will not be negatively affected as a result of you not being able to attend an appointment. If you have already made a visa application appointment, you will be contacted and told what to do next. Your immigration application will not be negatively affected as a result of you not being able to attend your appointment.

After your Tier 4 visa is granted, you will receive a 90-day visa to travel to the UK. If your 90-day visa to travel to the UK has expired, or is about to expire at the point you want to travel to the UK, you can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year. To make a request, you should contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team with the following information:

  • Your full name (including any middle names)
  • Date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Nationality
  • GWF reference number
  • Please put 'REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA' in the subject line

You will be contacted when the Visa Application Centres (VACs) re-open to arrange for a replacement visa in your passport. After you have travelled to the UK, you would normally be required to collect your BRP within 10 days of arrival. You will not be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place. This process will remain in place until the end of 2020.

If you are currently in the UK on a Visit or Short-term study visa, you may be able to exceptionally switch into Tier 4. You must still meet the other requirements of the route such as maintenance. This will be allowed until 31 July, at which point the concession will be reviewed.

Travelling to the UK

Before you travel to the UK, please read the Government guidance carefully as you may need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in the UK. The UK Government has recently updated this guidance to specify which countries will not need to quarantine on arrival in the UK.

Starting your studies

We may allow you to start your studies before your visa application has been decided if:

  • we have assigned you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
  • you submitted your application before your current visa expired and has shown us evidence of this (if you are currently in the UK)
  • the course you start is the same as the one listed on your CAS
  • you have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required

If you apply to switch from Short-term study into Tier 4 you will be able to commence your new course of study from the date of the application rather than the date the decision is made, subject to obtaining an ATAS certificate for their proposed course of studies if required. The University will be required to end sponsorship of your visa and you will not be permitted to continue with your course if the Home Office ultimately refuses your visa application.

If you have been issued a Tier 4 visa but have been unable to travel to the UK, you can undertake distance learning and the University is not required to withdraw sponsorship of your Tier 4 visa. This means the visa will remain valid and you can still use it to come to the UK if you decide to travel at a later date.

If you have not yet applied for a visa but wish to commence a course by distance learning do not need to travel to the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship under Tier 4.

EU students

You will need to arrive in the UK before 31 December 2020 if you wish to apply for the EU settlement scheme.