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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. Queen Mary FAQs about the coronavirus are here

*This page was most recently updated on 3 July 2020*

Information for current Queen Mary students with Tier 4 immigration permission

Information for prospective and current students outside the UK

Students due to undertake a work placement/study abroad next year

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

Information for current Queen Mary students with Tier 4 immigration permission

If you have left/want to leave the UK

You should immediately contact your School (your academic adviser or Student Support Officer) to inform them of your absence. You should also inform Residential Services if you live in University-owned accommodation: residences@qmul.ac.uk

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 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 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 application form is and guidance is available here 

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 visa. If you are returning within the validity of your Tier 4 visa after your course has ended but before your graduation ceremony, please check what you should carry in your hand luggage here. If you are travelling within the validity of your Tier 4 visa but after graduation, please see this information. If you are returning before the course end date listed on your CAS, check this guidance.

Not attending classes in person and your Tier 4 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 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 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 application form is and guidance is available here and the deadline is 1 May 2020 for UG and PG taught 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 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. Guidance for research students is here

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 have confirmed that if you cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, you will not be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future. But you must fill in the online form to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email to ensure that your immigration record is updated.

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

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

Extending your Tier 4 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 and you will be contacted to make an appointment. 

Some UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) will reopen for existing customers on 1 June 2020. Individuals can check which UKVCAS centres are open

For those who are submitting a new Tier 4 application now, we understand it is not currently possible to make a new appointment. Don't worry, this will not affect your pending application. You should be contacted once appointments are available, and you can keep checking back for appointment availability on the UKVCAS website. 

We will update this page when we have further information. 

If you need to apply for Tier 4 from your home country, but are unable to return

You may need to apply for new Tier 4 immigration permission from your home country, because you are not eligible to apply from the UK (e.g. because you do not meet the Academic Progession requirements) but are unable to leave the UK.

UKVI published updated guidance on 22 May 2020. This guidance confirms that students whose leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, who would otherwise be unable to extend in country, will be able to exceptionally apply for further leave within the UK. Students must still meet all other requirements of Tier 4, including academic progression and maintenance requirements, although there are some exemptions to showing academic progression where the extension is as a result of the Covid-19 situation. 

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

On 29 May 2020, UKVI updated their guidance for Tier 4 students and Short-term Students. 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. This new guidance confirms that UKVI will exercise discretion on this requirement if:

• the student had to apply before 31 July because their current leave would expire on or before that date, and • the start date of the new course named on the CAS is no later than 1 October 2020.

Working additional hours for the NHS

UKVI have published the following information with regards to working additional hours for the NHS with Tier 4 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 Tier 4 students can work more than 20 hours during term-time. 

Final year MBBS students who passed their finals have all completed now. We understand that the course completion date was 26 March 2020. If you have completed your course, you can work full-time for four months following completion of your course, in line with the guidance on our web pages about working during your studies

UKVI published guidance on 20 April 2020 to confirm that Tier 4 Students who want to assist the NHS in being an NHS Volunteer Responder are permitted to do so providing they comply with the ‘Stay at Home’ rules and only volunteer if they fulfil the relevant conditions as set out on the NHS England webpage. These students will not be considered to be working in breach of their terms of their visa and can carry out any necessary tasks required of them within this role. 

Other students can work full-time during the official vacation periods. You can find details about the term-dates here. 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. 

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. 

Switching from Short-term Student permission to Tier 4 in the UK

UKVI have confirmed that switching into Tier 4 from Visit and Short-term Student categories will be allowed on an exceptional basis. Applicants must still meet the other requirements of the route such as maintenance. This guidance confirms that this is allowed until 31 July 2020, at which point it will be reviewed.

If you are benefitting from this concession, we recommend that you write a cover letter to submit with your Tier 4 supporting documents. You can use this cover letter as a template, and amend it with your details if you wish: Letter explaining CV-19 switching concessions [DOC 12KB]

Information for prospective and current students outside the UK

If your 30 day visa vignette was issued previously

If you have already been issued with a 30-day visa vignette, it is likely that your visa vignette will expire before you have been able to travel to the UK. In addition, the end date of your course is likely to have been extended to take into account your later course start date.

On 28 April, UKVI published the following guidance

'If your 30 day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, you can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year.

To make a request, contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. You’ll need to include your name, nationality, date of birth and your GWF reference number with ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ in the subject line. If you’ve already contacted us about this, please let us know in your email.

You’ll be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in your passport.

You will not be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place.

This process will be in place until the end of 2020.'

This does not take into account that for some people, their course end dates will have changed, and we continue to lobby UKVI to reissue BRP cards in line with the new course end dates. 

If you have not yet applied for a Tier 4 visa

Visa Application Centres were closed throughout April and most of May. We heard from UKVI on 26 May 2020 that some Centres are resuming services. Please note that some Visa Applications Centres are still closed because of the ungoing pandemic.

For updates to the status of VACs, contact: 

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

We will keep this page updated as soon as there are further developments. 

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

If you can't or decide not to come to the UK in September

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

If you cannot get to the UK by the start date of your course, there are alternative provisions in place to arrange enrolment remotely and you can travel to the UK when it is permitted, possible and safe to do so. More information is on the Guidance for applicants webpage.

The latest date you can arrive in the UK will be listed on your CAS.  

If you are due to have resits

The Immigration Compliance Team at Queen Mary have confirmed that they will not issue CASs for students who were due to return to the UK for resits in May/June. This is because students are no longer expected to return to the UK for their exams.

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 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, if students are required to either continue their current studies or commence a new course by distance or blended learning due to Covid-19, they will still be eligible to switch into the Graduate route on a concessionary basis if they spent some time studying outside the UK. Students will benefit from this concession if they enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK. Students would need to meet all other requirements of the route.

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 Tier 4 application, 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. If your Entry Clearance vignette expires before you can travel to the UK because of the Coronavirus situation, please see the section vignette

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. 

Students due to undertake a work placement/study abroad next year

If you were due to undertake a placement next year as part of your course

Your School will be in contact with any additional information about arranging a placement at this time.

If you are unable to undertake the placement, and instead are awarded the degree without Industrial Experience, then you can expect your Tier 4 visa to be curtailed after you have completed your course, in line with the information under 'What happens if I successfully complete my course early' on our web page Tier 4 reporting and curtailment.

If you were due to study abroad next year but now wish to complete your course without study abroad

Your School will be in contact with additional information about your study abroad at this time.

If you decide to cancel the study abroad year, and instead are awarded your degee early without study abroad, then this change of circumstance with be reported to UKVI and you can expect your Tier 4 visa to be curtailed (cancelled) after you have completed your course. Please read the information 'What happens if I successfully complete my course early' on our web page Tier 4 reporting and curtailment.

Immigration implications if you defer your course for a year in order to undertake your study abroad/work placement next year

If you interrupt your studies for more than 60 days, because you would like to undertake your study abroad/work placement next year, then you can expect your Tier 4 visa to be curtailed (cancelled) in line with the information on our web page Tier 4 reporting and curtailment. You would be advised to leave the UK within 60 days. You would not be permitted to work during this period.

If you are unable to leave the UK within 60 days because of the situation in your home country, please refer to the section If you are in the UK legally but unable to leave or apply for new permission before your visa expiry

Returning to the UK following study abroad in your 4th year

You can return to the UK after your study abroad year provided that you still have valid Tier 4 immigration permission. Please see the section Leaving the UK and returning to the UK later for information about what you should carry in your hand luggage when you re-enter.

If you wish to apply for Tier 2 in the UK, check the requirements for switching

If you hope to apply for the proposed Graduate route, check the details about the requirements. This page will be updated when we receive further details about the route.  

What is the current advice for students on applying for visas for overseas study in other countries?

We are not authorised to provide immigration advice for countries outside the UK and we do not have the expertise to be able to advise you accurately.

We advise that you check with your host institution, as they are best placed to advise. You could also check the relevant Embassy website for more information or contact details for guidance about applying for a visa for that country. You can find the website of foreign embassies in the UK on the UK government website. If you decide to use an agency to help you, please check that they are reputable and note that they are likely to charge you a fee. You could check with the relevant embassy if they recommend a specific agency. 

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

If you are an EU 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 already in the UK is 30 June 2021. Please see our detailed information and guidance here. 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

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