Coronavirus (COVID-19) immigration advice for current and prospective students

We will continue to update this page when we receive more information.

 

UKVI and External Guidance

Last updated 17 September 2020

The current UKVI guidance was updated on the 16 September 2020:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents

Sponsor specific guidance can be found at:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for Tier 2, 4 and 5 sponsors

You can also find detailed guidance on the UKCISA web pages:

UKCISA 

 

I will need to collect my BRP within 10 days of arrival in the UK, but I need to quarantine. Can I break quarantine to go to collect my BRP?

Last updated 23 September 2020

Visa decision letters will still state that you must collect your BRP within 10 days of arriving in the UK because their letters have not been updated. However, the UKVI have confirmed that Tier 4 visa holders required to collect their BRP from the Post Office, will be able to do this until the end of 2020.

You should attempt to collect it as soon as your quarantine has ended, but you must not attempt to collect it if you are subject to quarantine restrictions.

The list of countries exempt from quarantine can be found on the the UK government web pages:

Exempt countries and territories

This list can change overnight, so it is important to check it before travelling. 

I've been told that I need to register with the Police within 7 days of my arrival in the UK.  Should I break quarantine to try to register?

Last updated 29 September 2020

Some nationalities need to register with the Police within 7 days of their arrival in the UK.  This is either shown on your 30 day vignette or your visa application decision letter. You can also refer to the official list:

Countries required to register with the Police 

You must not attempt to register if you are required to complete quarantine. The UKVI have confirmed that you should check with the local Police on whether they are open for registrations.  If they are not you must complete it once social distancing measures have been removed.

The Metropolitan Police Overseas Visitors' Records Office have announced that Police Registration appointment booking will resume from 30/09/2020.  You will need to book an appointment to attend and given the number of people who need to register with the Police in London, this may still take a few months to complete.  We still advise booking an appointment as soon as possible.

Find out more about registering with the Police in London on the following web page:

When you have your visa

I will only be able to apply for my visa after the 5 October 2020 due to COVID.  How will I be affected by the new Student Route?

Last updated 23 September 2020

At 09:00am London time on 5 October 2020, Tier 4 will be replaced by the Student Route.  Any applications submitted after this time will be considered under the Student Route rules.

Important: EU/EEA students who are not residing in the UK prior to the 31 December 2020 and are not eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme, will need to apply for a Student Route visa if they are only joining us from Lent Term 2021.

  • You will be able to use a CAS issued before 5 October 2020 for an application under the Student Route. Any CAS issued from 5 October 2020 must be formatted in accordance with the new guidance (yet to be released).
  • If you are applying to extend your visa in the UK and have been in the UK on a visa for 12 months, you will not need to show evidence of your qualification or finances - we are checking if this also includes people who have not been in the UK on a Tier 4 visa.
  • The cap on degree level study will be removed for postgraduate programmes of study.
  • You will not need to submit evidence of your qualification with your application overseas, but you will need to show evidence of your finances unless you are considered as a low-risk national.
  • The Immigration Health Surcharge will increase on 1 October 2020 to £470 per year plus the additional time on your visa.  However, there are no changes to the amount of maintenance required to be shown until next year.

There will be no changes to the working conditions, so you will not be affected in your working options.

My Tier 4 visa has been granted but my plans have changed and the sticker in my passport expires before I intend to travel.  Do I need to apply for a new Student visa?

Last updated 23 September 2020

If your Tier 4 visa has been successfully granted, you will be issued with a 90 day sticker in your passport.  This will enable you to travel to the UK to collect your BRP which is then your immigration permission.

FAQ: I applied for my Tier 4 visa and said that I intended to travel in January.  My 90 day sticker was issued for September to December.  What do I need to do?

We are aware that some caseworkers have been issuing 90 day stickers in line with the guidance, which states that they are valid from 7 days of your intended date of travel or your course start date, whichever is sooner.  In this case, a caseworker may have referred to your CAS and issued your sticker on your course start date rather than your date of travel.  

In this case, you will need to apply for a replacement vignette. This process is free but only until the end of 2020. You should not leave applying for the replacment vignette until too late or there may be a backlog of applications. When applying it may help to give further information on your new intended date of travel, as you have to evidence that the sticker will expire before you travel.

Details of the process can be found in the section on 30 day vignettes expiring in the UKVI Coronavirus guidance:

UKVI Guidance 

FAQ: I intended to travel for the start of year, but I have now changed my plans and will not join LSE until the Lent Term. What do I need to do?

In this case, you will need to apply for a replacement vignette. This process is free but only until the end of 2020. You should not leave applying for the replacment vignette until too late or there may be a backlog of applications. When applying it may help to give further information on your new intended date of travel, as you have to evidence that the sticker will expire before you travel.

Details of the process can be found in the section on 30 day vignettes expiring in the UKVI Coronavirus guidance:

UKVI Guidance 

I have an offer for the 2020/21 academic year.  Can I register online and start my studies even if I don't have my Tier 4 visa?

Last updated 23 September 2020

The UKVI has said that it is possible for someone to start their course online, if they are being sponsored under Tier 4.  However, the UKVI expect that the applicant should plan to arrive in the UK for face-to-face teaching as soon as possible. If you travel to the UK, you are effectively saying that you intend to study face-to-face by activating your Tier 4 visa.

FAQ: Can I complete online registration and start my online studies if I don't have my Tier 4 visa in place and I'm still overseas?

Yes, you can complete online registration and start your studies online if you are overseas and don't yet have your Tier 4 visa.

You will not be able to study a  whole programme completely online and be sponsored on a Tier 4 visa.  The UKVI does not expect a wholly online programme to need a visa because you do not need to be in the UK.

If your visa is successfully granted you will be given a sticker in your passport which is valid for 90 days to enable you to travel to the UK. Information is available on this page if your plans have changed.

I'm an EU/EEA/Swiss student joining LSE in the 2020/21 academic year.  Can I study online and start on-campus in January?

Last updated 11 September 2020

The UK is leaving the EU on the 31 December 2020   If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss student joining LSE in the 2020/21 academic year, we strongly advise that you establish residency (start living) in the UK before the 31 December 2020.

Arriving before the 31 December 2020 is vital for any students who will be coming to study in the UK for the first time.  If you do not arrive before this date, you will not be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme and you will need to apply for a visa to  be able to study in the UK. If you do not plan to arrive until after the 31 December 2020 and you are not already resident in the UK, you will need to contact ISVAT for advice because you will need to apply for a Student Route visa to join LSE in the Lent Term.

FAQ: I don't plan to start living in the UK until January 2021. I haven't lived in the UK before but have a UK address arranged. Can I use this address to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme even if I have never lived in the UK?

To be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme you need to be residing in the UK.  Submitting an application using a UK address when you have not lived there is a fraudulent application.  You should either plan to arrive before the 31 December 2020 or apply for a Student visa not submit a fraudulent application.

The EU Settlement Scheme would give you similar rights to those you would have benefitted from under free movement meaning there would be no restriction on the work you can do.  The application is also free.  If you arrive in the UK for the first time after the 1 January 2021, you would need to apply for a Student visa at a cost and with the same working restrictions that other international students have faced under Tier 4.

We strongly recommend that you do not delay your arrival to the UK until after the 31 December 2020.  Further details can be found on our pages for EU/EEA nationals:

EU/EEA nationals 

I'm was already studying at the School and have re-registered online.  If I study Michaelmas Term overseas, will my visa be affected?

Last Updated 23 September 2020

The UKVI have confirmed that those people who already hold a Tier 4 visa and had started their studies prior to the pandemic, will be able to continue online.  You will be able to study Michaelmas Term online but you are expected to return by Lent Term 2021.

When you re-register online, you will be able to indicate your intended date of return. 

I don't need a visa to enter the UK as a tourist.  Can I come before my Tier 4 is valid so that I can quarantine and not miss any classes?

Last updated 23 September 2020

If you do not need to apply for a tourist visa in advance of travelling to the UK and are planning to enter before your Tier 4 sticker becomes valid you must note the following important legal points:

  • If you are already in the UK as a tourist, you do not automatically become a Tier 4 student just because your sticker in you passport is valid. You must leave the UK and re-enter during the validity of your Tier 4 visa to be considered a Tier 4 migrant;
  • You cannot activate your Tier 4 visa by travelling to the Republic of Ireland because there is no border between  the UK and Republic of Ireland;
  • Most countries within easy travelling distance of the UK now also require a period of quarantine upon arrival there and also upon your return.  For example, in the past we would have recommended travelling to France or Belgium on Eurostar and returning to activate your Tier 4.  If you arrive as a tourist now you would need to do the following:

    1. Quarantine in the UK for 14 days if required;
    2. Travel to another European country and potentially have to quarantine there depending on their rules with the UK;
    3. Return during the validity of your Tier 4 visa and potentially have to quarantine for another 14 days depending on where you travelled to.
  • You would not be able to complete campus enrolment or attend teaching until your Tier 4 is active.

UK quarantine rules change frequently and often quite quickly, so you may find yourself in a position where you cannot travel to activate your Tier 4 visa, potentially having to complete two periods of quarantine.  Therefore, you may risk travelling early with no benefit.  It would be easier to travel when your Tier 4 visa is valid and to study online to complete quaratine than potentially not be able to join your studies in-person for a few days.

I'm a PhD student and my research has been affected.  Will my visa be affected?

Last updated 23 September 2020

Important: The UKVI have a concession which allows any time spent doing online learning to count towards eligiblity for the Graduate Route (which will replace DES) but the student must return to the UK and resume their studies by the 6 April 2021.  If you plan to apply for the route but are currently studying online, we strongly recommend that you plan to return to the UK by the 6 April 2021 if your intention is to benefit from the Grdauate Route.

The options for PhD students can be complex and will depend on:

  • What point you are at in your PhD;
  • Whether you require an extension of your Tier 4 visa;
  • Whether you are planning to interrupt your studies.

Advice for PhD students is very much based on your individual circumstances and we would like to encourage you to get in touch with the team. ISVAT are the specialists in immigration advice at LSE and we are happy to help you on your individual options. We strongly recommend that you contact our team to allay any concerns you may have, rather than seek non-specialist advice from other sources.

If you plan to study online for Michaelmas Term, your visa will not be affected.  However, you will need to speak to your supervisor and the PhD Academy team to ensure this is recorded correctly depending on your circumstances.

ISVAT Enquiry Form

I'm an EU/EEA student already registered at LSE and have returned home.  Will my residency be affected for the EU Settlement Scheme?

Last updated 11 September 2020

It is still possible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme both in the UK and overseas.  However, the EU Settlement Scheme guidance has always allowed for absences up to a maximum of 6 months (12 months in some permitted circumstances) and more information can be found in the Qualifying Residence section of the following guide:

EU Settlement Scheme Guidance

An absence of 12 months is permitted under the current circumstances if it is related to COVID-19, but this is not formally written in any guidance and this has been relayed to us by the Russell Group.  Therefore, any period in excess of 12 months including time abroad for field work and due to COVID is likely to affect your period of time in the UK and when you will become eligible for Settled Status.

If you have any concerns about your ability to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, please contact ISVAT for advice.

If you are applying for Settled Status or Citizenship, we may refer you for external advice.  ISVAT does not advise students on settlement routes regardless of their nationality or immigration status (EU Settlement Scheme is an immigration status).

New EU/EEA/Swiss students who have yet to reside in the UK, must plan to arrive by the 31 December 2020 to be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme.  

Is there any more news on the Graduate Route and who will be eligible for it?

Last updated 23 September 2020

The immigration rules for the Graduate Route will not be published until Spring 2021 (potentially to be in place for April 2021).

On the 13 July 2020, the Home Office released a document with further detail on the future points based system:

The UK's future points based immigration system: further details

The currently publicised detail is as follows:

  • You must be awarded an undergraduate degree or above from a Higher Education provider;
  • The degree must have been completed wholly in the UK with some exceptions e.g. study abroad.  There will be no minmum length of programme to be eligible.
  • The degree you have been awarded must be the one that was stated on your CAS - you will need to take this into consideration when considering a programme transfer. For example, if you were issued a visa for the MSc Economics and transfer to the MSc Finance, you will not be successfully awarded the programme stated on your CAS.

    However, your academic decision to transfer should not solely be based on a work visa, if transferring is the best option for your studies.
  • You must have a valid Tier 4/Student visa at the point of application;
  • You must have completed the whole of your degree in the UK (with some exceptions);
  • You cannot previously have been awarded leave under the Graduate Route;
  • You must apply in the UK for the visa;
  • If you were fully, financially sponsored for your studies you will need permission from you scholarship provider to apply e.g. Chevening or Commonwealth Scholarship Commission;
  • Undergraduate and Masters degree level students will be granted a visa for two years
  • PhD students will be granted a visa for three years;
  • You will only be eligible to have your dependants with you if they are already in the UK on a depedant visa.  You cannot obtain the Graduate visa and then bring your dependants to the UK.
  • There will be no maintenance requirements and the English language requirement will be met by you being awarded your degree.

To confirm these are not the immigration rules and the details are still subject to change, especially as we will need clarification on eligiblity for those students who have transferred programmes or completed a work placement/fieldwork overseas. We cannot guarantee eligiblity for any student until the rules are released.

In the updated guidance provided by the UKVI, a concession is in place for students that start their programme online due to COVID-19.  This period will count towards the required amount of study in the UK to be eligible for the visa, although the actual period has yet to be defined.  To benefit from this concession, the UKVI state that you must be in the UK prior to the 6 April 2021.  However, the intention is that you should be arriving for face-to-face teaching as soon as possible in Michaelmas Term.

You can find the information we have on the Graduate Route in the working after your studies section of the following web page:

When you have your visa

 

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