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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 14 July 2021*

Students with Tier 4 immigration or Student immigration permission

Information for prospective and current students outside the UK

Information for current Queen Mary students with Student immigration permission

If you have left/want to leave the UK

If your School allow you to continue studying remotely, 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, however you must continue to engage with your studies. 

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. 

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.

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 allows you to continue studying remotely, 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, however you must continue to engage with your studies.

The UK government's Covid-19: Guidance for Student sponsors, migrants and Short-term students was updated on 1 July 2021. It says:

2.11 Sponsors are not required to withdraw sponsorship if an existing student is unable to return to the UK prior to 27 September 2021 due to travel restrictions. Institutions can continue to provide distance learning for students who are outside the UK, for existing sponsored students who will transition to face-to-face or blended learning in the UK before 06 April 2022.

Discussions are currently ongoing at Queen Mary to confirm academic requirements and deadlines to arrive in the UK. There will be a requirement to attend some activities in-person on campus after your arrival in the UK. We will update this page when there is further information about Queen Mary requirements and processes. 

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. 

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.

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.

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

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 or you had Covid-19.

If you have 'Exceptional Assurance' and now meet the requirements to apply for Student permission

The UK government website confirms:

You are also able to apply for permission to stay to remain in the UK if you have been issued with an ‘exceptional assurance’. You must submit your application before the expiry of your ‘exceptional assurance’.

If you are unable to leave the UK before the end date of your 'exceptional assurance' and you need to make your Student application from inside the UK, we would advise that you include evidence showing that you have been unable to leave the UK because of Covid-19 and a cover letter explaining why you have been unable to leave the UK, how your situation has changed and why you need to remain in the UK. You must meet all of the usual Student visa application requirements, including the maintenance requirement. There are some concessions, including if there are more than 28 days between your visa expiry date and your new course starting

UKVI's financial caseworker guidance confirms that 'exceptional assurance' would be counted towards the time a student held permission. If you have been in the UK with permission (including 'exceptional assurance') for the 12 months before your application, and you are applying inside the UK, you do not need to show funds for your Student visa application:

If the applicant had 3C leave or exceptional assurance (during the Covid pandemic) during the 12 months, that time should be counted as a time during which they had permission.

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. 

Some students may not be 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 must normally apply to study a course that commences no more than 28 days after their current period of permission expires, but UKVI have confirmed that they will exercise discretion on this requirement if the start date of the new course named on the CAS is no later than 27 September 2021. 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. 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. This concession is due to end on 30 September 2021.

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.

Information for prospective and current students outside the UK

Travelling to England 

Restrictions are still in place in England. The restrictions are explained on the UK government web pages

Everyone travelling to England (from outside the Common Travel Area) must:

There are further requirements depending on where you are travelling from, and whether you have been in another country in the previous 10 days. See the UK goverment website for more details. If you are arriving from a red list country, please read about help from QM with the costs of quarantine which explains the policy for both new and current students entering the UK from 21 June 2021. If you cannot find the answer to your question about quarantine costs support you can email globalengagement@qmul.ac.uk You can also read about support for students living in QM halls of residence during self-isolation on arrival to the UK.  

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

Starting your course in your home country

You do not need a visa whilst you are studying online from your home country. You will need immigration permission before you travel to the UK.

The UK government's Covid-19: Guidance for Student sponsors, migrants and Short-term students was updated on 1 July 2021. It says:

2.11...Sponsors can also commence sponsoring new Students and Child Students who will start studying through distance learning from overseas in the 2021-22 academic year, provided they transition to face-to-face learning when they arrive in the UK, which must be no later than by 06 April 2022.

Discussions are currently ongoing at Queen Mary to confirm academic requirements and deadlines to arrive in the UK. There will be a requirement to attend some activities in-person on campus after your arrival in the UK. We will update this page when there is further information about Queen Mary requirements and processes. 

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. Select 'transfer your visa to a new passport online if you’re outside the UK (it costs £154)' and select ‘To transfer or replace your visa (vignette)’

You do not need to apply for Student immigration permission again, just to replace the vignette. You do not need to provide proof of your finances with your vignette transfer application. The gov.uk guidance says: 'If required, you may ask for supporting documentation to establish that their circumstances have not changed.' Whilst it is possible that the Home Office could contact you to confirm that you still have sufficient funds to live in the UK, we are not aware of any students being asked to provide this as part of a vignette replacement application. 

If you are resident in a relevant country, you will need to provide a valid TB test with your replacement vignette application. Your TB test is valid for 6 months, if this has already expired, you can take another test at an approved clinic. You do not need to provide the other supporting documents 

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, email: casinfo@qmul.ac.uk if you have already started your course. If your latest date to enrol has been extended, you can print and include the email notifying you of this. 

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 or January 2021, you can apply for permission from your Academic School to arrive later. 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 by emailing casinfo@qmul.ac.uk  

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 the email confirming your CAS has been updated, with your visa vignette transfer application.

You can also 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 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.

If your CAS has expired or will expire soon

If your CAS was issued between 24 Jan and 31 December 2020 it can still be used for applications, even where they have expired, been marked as used, or the course start date has changed. UKVI will consider on a case by case basis, taking a ‘pragmatic approach’ where the new course start date is ‘significantly different’ from that stated on the CAS. 

If your CAS was issued outside this time and has expired, and you want to apply but have not yet applied for Student immigration permission, you will need to request a new CAS before you apply for your visa. If you submitted your visa application before your CAS expired, you do not need to request a new CAS. 'Submitted' means that you paid the visa application fee. You also do not need a new CAS if your permission has been granted but you need to replace your vignette, see the section: If you are unable to travel within your visa vignette validity

If you have already made a successful application, but want a note made on your CAS in order to facilitate you entering the UK or for a replacement vignette application, email: casinfo@qmul.ac.uk 

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. 

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
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