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Advice and Counselling Service

Immigration and Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

This information is for Queen Mary students and applicants and explains the affect of the current situation on your immigration permission. If you have further questions after reading through this information, you can contact us. Please also look after your wellbeing during these difficult times. Please see the Queen Mary FAQs about the coronavirus.

*This page was most recently updated on 15 February 2021*

Information for current Queen Mary students with Tier 4 immigration or Student immigration permission

Information for prospective and current students outside the UK

Information for students with another immigration status (not Tier 4 or Student immigration permission)

Information for current Queen Mary students with Student immigration permission

If you have left/want to leave the UK

International students currently in the UK can return home, subject to any restrictions in place at their destination.

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, check how absences from the UK might affect your Pre-settled or Settled Status, or eligibility in the future. See ‘What happens if I spend some time outside the UK?’ on our guidance for EU, EEA and Swiss students.

If your School authorise your absence, this would not be reported to the Home Office because there are special rules in place in relation to Covid-19. Your Tier 4 or Student visa should not be affected in this situation.

If your School makes arrangements for you to study remotely, you should continue to engage with your studies, and this should also not count as an absence so would not be reported to the Home Office. Your Tier 4 or Student visa should not be affected in this situation.

Check with your School if you need to make a formal claim for Extenuating Circumstances.

If your School cannot authorise your absence or facilitate you studying remotely, or if you choose to take time out of your studies, you can request an Interruption of Study from your School. The interruption application form and guidance is available online. 

Leaving the UK and returning to the UK later

If you leave the UK, you can later return to the UK before the end date of your current Tier 4 or Student visa. Check what you should carry in your hand luggage according to the timing of your return to the UK. If you are travelling during term-time whilst classes are online, you can provide evidence of this e.g. an email from your Academic School or a print out from your timetable showing that your classes are online. 

Not attending classes in person and your Tier 4 or Student immigration permission

If your School authorise your absence, this would not be reported to the Home Office because there are special rules in place in relation to Covid-19. Your Tier 4 or Student visa should not be affected in this situation.

If your School makes arrangements for you to study remotely, you should continue to engage with your studies, and this should also not count as an absence so would not be reported to the Home Office. Your Tier 4 or Student visa should not be affected in this situation.

Check with your School if you need to make a formal claim for Extenuating Circumstances.

If your School cannot authorise your absence or facilitate you studying remotely, or if you choose to take time out of your studies, you can request an Interruption of Study from your School. The interruption application form and guidance is available online  

PhD students

If you are a PhD student, please contact your Supervisor to confirm that you can continue to study remotely. You can leave the UK if your Supervisor confirms you can continue on your PhD from outside the UK. You should continue to engage with your research and maintain contact with your Supervisor whilst you are overseas. Your Tier 4 or Student visa will not be affected in this situation.

UKVI have confirmed that remote study will be permitted for the whole 2020/1 academic year

If your School cannot authorise your absence or facilitate you studying remotely, or if you choose to take time out of your studies, you can request an Interruption of Study from your School. See the guidance for research students.

If you want to leave the UK but are waiting for a new/replacement/corrected BRP card 

You can leave the UK without a BRP card, although it is recommend that you keep evidence of your situation in case you are later questioned. When you return to your home country, you can report that the BRP card is lost.If you later return to the UK, you will need to apply for a single entry replacement visa in order to be able to return, and then apply to replace your BRP card once you are back in the UK.

Alternatively, if you have already enrolled your biometrics, a friend who is in the UK could receive your BRP card on your behalf and send it to you overseas. If you decide to do this, you will need to leave a signed letter of authorisation to allow the card to be delivered to your friend instead of you. If your friend lives at a different address, contact us to ask UKVI to change the address for your application. 

If you are in the UK legally but unable to leave or apply for new permission before your visa expiry

If you are in the UK legally, but unable to leave the UK, or make an application for new permission in a relevant category before your visa expiry date, please see the information from UKVI. UKVI confirmed that if you couldn't leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, you would not suffer any detriment in the future.

Further information is on the UK government website, including what you can so if your visa expires and you are unable to leave the UK as a result of the pandemic, e.g. because your flight has been cancelled. 

If you were unable to register with the Police, or update any relevant changes with the Police

Please check our guidance if you were unable to register with the Police, or update any relevant changes with the Police.

Extending your Tier 4 or Student immigration permission at this time

You can submit your application online still. If you submit, and pay for, your application online, you are considered to have made your application, so please ensure that you do this before your visa expiry, if you are eligible. 

After you have paid for your application, you should register an account on the UKVCAS website. You can upload your documents. 

Exceptionally, we understand that some students are being informed that they not required to attend an appointment, as they have enrolled their biometrics previously. You will receive an email if this is the case for you. 

For those who are submitting a new Student application now, we understand it is not currently possible to make a new appointment at the same time as you submit your application. Don't worry, this will not affect your pending application. You should be contacted once appointments are available, or you will be informed if you do not need to attend an appointment.

If there are more than 28 days between your visa expiring and new course starting

Students would not normally be allowed to apply for Tier 4 permission from within the UK if there are more than 28 days between their visa expiring and new course starting. UKVI will exercise discretion on this requirement if the start date of the new course named on the CAS is no later than 31 March 2021. The guidance confirms that this concession applies to students who already hold permission on the Student or Child Student routes (including Tier 4).

Working additional hours for the NHS

UKVI have published information about working additional hours for the NHS with Tier 4 or Student immigration permission. Between 3 April and 30 April 2020, Tier 4 students could only work additional hours for the NHS in the capacity of a doctor, nurse or paramedic. On 1st May 2020 the list of occupations was expanded. Please see the UKVI web page for a list of the relevant occupations in which students with Tier 4 or Student immigration permission can work more than 20 hours during term-time. Please note that you should also continue to study on your course.

Other students can work full-time during the official vacation periods. You can find out about the term-dates online. PhD students usually have 6 weeks vacation per year, in agreement with their Supervisor and academic school.

If you need ATAS clearance

The ATAS team have been accepting applications since 1 June. We understand there are some delays in ATAS processing at the moment. 

Undergraduate (MEng/MSci) and all Postgraduate Taught students on programmes requiring ATAS can enrol to start studies remotely before evidence of ATAS clearance has been obtained. ATAS clearance will still be necessary to issue the CAS. Postgraduate Research students are not permitted to enrol until they have received ATAS clearance. If your ATAS expires before you make a Student visa application, you will need to reapply for the ATAS clearance. 

Information for prospective and current students outside the UK

Travelling to England whilst restrictions are in place

There is currently a national lockdown in England. The restrictions are explained on the UK government web pages

Everyone travelling to England must:

  • take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test and get a negative result during the 3 days before you travel
  • book and pay for a travel test package, which will include COVID-19 tests to be taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of your quarantine
  • complete a passenger locator form with details of where you will home quarantine when you arrive and the travel test package booking reference number.
  • Self-isolate on arrival
  • Follow the national lockdown rules.

You can find more information, including how to book your travel testing package, on the UK government web page

If you are coming from a country on the UK's 'red list', or have been in one of these countries in the previous 10 days, you must quarantine in a government approved hotel.

Review the latest government guidance before you travel. This changes frequently and sometimes at short notice.

If you have not yet applied for a Student visa

For updates to the status of VACs, contact: 

  • TLS Contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East

Priority and Super Priority services are only available in some locations. If available, you will be able to purchase these services when booking your appointment.

If you are unable to travel within your visa vignette validity

Visa vignettes are currently being issued for 90 days. If you are unable to travel within the 90 day validity, then you can apply to replace your visa vignette. The cost to replace your vignette is £154. You do not need to apply for Student immigration permission again, just to replace the vignette.

You do not have to apply to replace your 90 day vignette before your current vignette expires. This is because your full permission is on the letter that you received when your passport was returned. 

When you apply to replace your vignette, you can include a print out of your CAS showing your latest date to arrive in the UK as evidence of the latest date to arrive. If you need your CAS updating to show an updated latest date to arrive, complete the form online for your Academic School or Institute if you have already started your course. 

You may decide to wait until you know when you will be able to travel to the UK before you apply to replace your vignette. 

Receiving a CAS if you are starting your course online

You can be issued with a CAS even if you are starting your course online or through blended learning, provided that you intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow. See our guidance about requesting a CAS

You may wish to wait until you know when you will apply for your visa before you request the CAS. 

If you cannot or do not want to travel to the UK before the latest date listed on your CAS

You do not need a visa whilst you are studying online in your home country. 

If you started your course in September 2020, you can apply for permission from your Academic School to arrive after 5 February 2021. If you have received a CAS, but have not yet applied for Student immigration permission, your CAS can be updated to show a later latest arrival date. You can request for your CAS to be updated when you apply for permission to arrive later from your Academic School. 

If your visa vignette has already been granted, but you are no longer able to travel within your vignette validity, please see the section of this webpage If you are unable to travel within your visa vignette validity. You can include a print out of your updated CAS, with your visa vignette transfer application.

You can carry evidence that your latest date of enrolment has been extended when you enter the UK. 

Please note how a later arrival may affect your eligibility to apply for Graduate Route immigration permission

If you started your course in January 2021, and your CAS has been issued, but you have not yet applied for Student immigration permission, you can apply for permission from your School to extend your latest date to arrive. For most progammes, the latest date to arrive will be 20 September 2021. If you are studying a 9-month programme which started in January, you must arrive by 30 May 2021. 

If your visa vignette has already been granted, but you are no longer able to travel within your vignette validity, please see the section of this webpage If you are unable to travel within your visa vignette validity

If your visa vignette has been issued and you are able to travel within your visa vignette validity, you can still request that a note is made on your CAS to confirm the latest date to arrive has been extended. You can then print and carry your updated CAS in your hand luggage when you travel to the UK. You do not need to apply for a new visa.  

Please note how a later arrival may affect your eligibility to apply for Graduate Route immigration permission

If you started your course before September 2020, you can contact your Academic School for permission to continue studying remotely. There will be no impact on your Student immigration permission, as this should be valid for the whole of your course. UKVI have confirmed that remote study will be permitted for the whole 2020/1 academic year. If your immigration permission is not valid for the whole of your course, for example because you have been interrupting your studies, then you can contact us for advice about your Student immigration permission application. 

Eligibility for the new Graduate ('Post Study Work') route if you start your course outside the UK.

The Graduate Route is due to be introduced for those students with Tier 4 or Student immigration permission completing a degree level course at Queen Mary from Summer 2021. 

UKVI have confirmed that students will normally be expected to undertake their studies in the UK to be eligible for the Graduate route. However there is a concession at this time, to allow students to remain eligible for the Route even if they have spent some time studying outside the UK as a result of the pandemic. 

Students who will complete their course in Summer 2021, including those who commenced a 1 year Masters programme in September 2020 will benefit from the concession and be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route if they enter the UK on or before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK. 

Students who start a one-year Masters programme in January 2021 will benefit from the concession if they enter the UK before 27 September 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK. 

If your course is longer than a year and will be completed after 2021, you can still be eligible for the Graduate Route, even if you have studied some or all of the 2020/1 academic year by distance learning. 

UKVI's Covid guidance says that you must have extant leave as a Student when the Graduate Route launches in Summer 2021. You must have immigration permission as a student at the time you make your Graduate Route application. 

In all cases, you must meet all other eligibility criteria of the route in order to be able to apply. 

How to answer question on your visa application form about your intended date of travel

You do not need to apply for immigration permission whilst you are studying in your home country.

Think carefully about the timing of submitting your application for Student immigration permission, based on when you will be able to come to the UK. Your intended date of travel to the UK should be the date you actually intend to arrive in the UK. If the date you travel to the UK changes because of the Coronavirus situation after you have received your visa, then this should not negatively affect you. 

Self-isolation on arrival in England

The government has published guidance about the requirements to self-isolate on arrival in England, including the list of countries from which you can travel without the requirement to self-isolate on arrival. The guidance and exempt countries are being updated frequently, so you would be advised to keep checking this information. 

You may be able to pay for a Covid-19 test under the Test to Release scheme and reduce your period of self-isolation, if the result is negative.

Here are some other useful UK government web pages with more details about the requirements:

If you are staying in Queen Mary accommodation, Queen Mary Residential Services have prepared a useful guide about living safely and self-isolation

The earliest that someone with Tier 4 or Student immigration permission will be able to come to the UK is one month before the start date listed on their CAS or 7 days before the intended date of travel, whichever is later. 

Collecting your BRP card

When you arrive in the UK you will not be penalised for being unable to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) with 10 days, while coronavirus measures are in place. 
If you have to self-isolate, you should collect your BRP card as soon as possible after you have finished your period of self-isolation. We understand that the Post Offices will be keeping the BRP cards for longer, so it should be still be available to collect after your period of self-isolation. 
If you will be arriving in the UK later than you originally planned, your BRP card may still be in the Post Office when you arrive. If it's not there when you arrive, you can report it on the bottom of this UK government web page

 

Information for students with another immigration status (not Tier 4 or Student)

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national and want to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme

You can still apply for Settled/Pre-settled status. The deadline for applying for those resident in the UK before 31.12.2020 is 30 June 2021. Please see our detailed information and guidance about how to stay in the UK. Applications may take longer to be processed than usual due to the current situation. 

Please consider how any absences from the UK might affect an application for Settled Status later. We have detailed information and examples on our web page with guidance for EU/EEA students.

Rights of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals entering the UK to live for the first time after 31 December 2020

Moving to the UK from 1 January 2021 means you need immigration permission to enter and live in the UK. If you are coming on a course of more than six months you need to apply in advance for Student immigration permission which is expensive and has strict eligibility requirements to meet

Please read our detailed guidance about the rights of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. The guidance also explains your rights to return to the UK if you previously lived here and are now abroad.

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