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

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

 

Latest Updates

Last updated 7 August 2020

Updates to page

On 7 July 2020 we updated all relevant sections based on the updated UKVI guidance. We also updated the information for those hoping to switch to Tier 4 from a tourist visa and added an FAQ on collecting your BRP and Police Registration. UKCISA have a helpful summary of the most recent changes:

UKCISA

The latest guidance was updated on the 30 July 2020 and should benefit those with visas expiring by the 31 August 2020.  The guidance for sponsors was updated on the 6 August 2020.

Guidance for Sponsors

UKVI Updates

Last updated 7 August 2020

The UKVI have now updated concessions for COVID-19 and the relevant sections of this web page have been updated to reflect the concessions currently in place. The guidance for sponsors has yet to be updated.

Coronavirus - Latest UKVI Concessions (29/07/20)

The most recent immigration advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Home Office can be found here:

Coronavirus COVID-19 - Government Immigration Advice 

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tier 4 sponsors, migrants and short-term students

If you are a student with a query about how you may be affected please contact ISVAT using the contact form at the bottom of this page.  

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)  has helpful advice for international students at this time:

UKCISA

LSE also has its own coronavirus FAQs web page:

Coronavirus FAQs

We will continue to update this page as guidance is received.

I have an offer for the 2020/21 academic year.  Should I apply for a Tier 4 visa?

Last updated 7 August 2020

LSE has announced it plans for teaching in the 2020/21 academic year:

LSE Plans for Next Academic Year

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. 

You should plan to apply for your Tier 4 visa to arrive for your original programme start date. However, you will be able to start your programme online even if your arrival at LSE is delayed in the Michaelmas term.

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.

We will update this section once we have further details of registration processes for the next academic year.

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

Last updated 7 August 2020

The UK is leaving the EU on the 31 December 2020 and the date to apply for an extension of the transitional period has now passed.  If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss student joining LSE in the 2020/21 academic year, we strongly advise that you establish residency in the UK before the 31 December 2020.

Residency means you are acccessing your right of free movement and living in the UK.

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 require a visa to study in the Uk from 1 January 2020.

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've met all the conditions of my offer and completed my Financial Undertaking Form.  Why haven't I received my CAS yet?

Last updated 7 August 2020

Issuing a CAS is not an automatic process even in normal academic years.  Checks need to be made and the CAS needs to be created on a UKVI owned database before it can be issued to you.  Furthermore, LSE issues 4500+ CAS numbers each year and it is important that they are right.  Not only does LSE have to pay for each CAS number, an incorrect CAS can lead to a refusal of your visa application.

Receiving a CAS number does not guarantee that you will be successfully granted a Tier 4 visa. It is your responsibility that you meet the immigration rules before applying for Tier 4. Given that you are able to start your programme online, you should not risk rushing your Tier 4 application and potentially receive a refusal.

FAQ: Graduate Admissions have sent me my pre-CAS but I haven't received my CAS yet.  When will I get my CAS?

Graduate Admissions will create a mock of your CAS known as a pre-CAS statement.  It's very important that you check the details on your pre-CAS statement and reply to let Graduate Admissions know either if there are any changes to be made or if eveything is correct.  If you do not confirm this to Graduate Admissions your CAS will be delayed.  Your CAS will not automatically be updated and you will need to wait for Graduate Admissions to respond to your email in case any additional checks need to be made.

Please do not send multiple emails checking whether they have received your response.  The teams involved withe Tier 4 processes are aware how keen you are to receive your CAS. However, sending multiple emails will not mean that your case will be expedited and may have the opposite effect as staff will need to cross-check all correspondence sent by you to see if there are any further changes. Your patience is appreciated as it will mean CASs are able to be issued quickerr.

Whilst waiting, we recommend you read the relevant guidance on applying for a Tier 4 visa to avoid risking a refusal of your application.

Applying for a Tier 4 Visa

 

I need to apply for a UK visa overseas. Are visa application centres currently open?

Last updated 7 August 2020

VfS Global and TLS are beginning to re-open  or applications  and 100 centres will be open across the world from 6 July 2020.  We recommend that you check the news for your specific country. 

Details of which VfS centres are opening can be found on the following web page:

VfS Global

TLS Centre closures are listed on the country specific web pages.

We do not have any information when other centres will open and generally check for information on social media e.g. through our Twitter account.

We are aware that it may be possible to apply from another country you would not normally be able to apply from e.g. because you were there as a tourist when travel restrictions were introduced.  However, you will need to be able to evidence that you are in that country legally and explain why you were not able to apply from your home country. It would be a risk to travel to use a visa application in another country as you may be subject to quarantine rules and will have to remain in that country throughout the process, which may be delayed.

I'm having difficulty getting an appointment and I've already booked my travel.  What can LSE do to help me?

Unfortunately, we have no ability to obtain appointments for students, even if they have travel booked because they hoped to complete quarantine before teaching commenced.  We are aware in most countries there are limited numbers of appointments available. For some countries, visa application centres have yet to open. However, this is a global situation and applicants should remember that not only Tier 4 applications are being submitted at this time.

We will continue to raise this issue with representative bodies but we are unable to influence appointment bookings nor expedite applications in the current pandemic.

The visa application centre in my country is still closed.  Can I travel to the UK as a tourist and apply for Tier 4 in the UK?

Whilst you can travel as a tourist to the UK, if you applied for your Tier 4 visa in the UK you would receive a refusal and you would not be able to complete campus enrolment.  The UKVI have stated:

"New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but want to start a course which they intend to begin overseas by distance learning, before travelling to the UK to transition to face-to-face learning, must be sponsored and be granted a Tier 4 visa before travelling. They may either apply for a Tier 4 visa before their course starts or before they travel to the UK, either is acceptable."

They have also confirmed that:

"Those arriving on the Visit or Short-term study route after 31 July will not be permitted to switch into Tier 4. Tier 4 sponsors should not issue a CAS to any prospective applicant in this position."

If you arrive on a tourist visa, you cannot apply for a Tier 4 visa in the UK or complete campus enrolment.  You would be required to return home to obtain a Tier 4 visa.  It is therefore safer to start your studies online rather than travel when you do not have the correct visa.

The visa applicaton centre in my country is still closed.  Should I submit and pay for application form?

Most importantly, before submitting your Tier 4 application form you must be confident that you meet the rules to avoid the risk of a refusal. Don't forget your date of application is the date you submit and pay for your Tier 4 application online, not the date you attend your appointment.

You can still submit your application even if the visa application centre you need to apply from is closed at present.  Your application will be put on hold until you can complete all the processes.  Therefore, you will need to decide whether to submit  and pay for your application (if you meet the rules) and put your application on hold or wait until you are confident the visa application centre will re-open.

My visa has expired or is due to expire by the 31 July 2020.  What do I need to do if I'm still in the UK and unable to travel?

Last updated 7 August 2020

The Home Office has now amended it's previous concessions for those with visas expiring on the 31 July 2020. If your visa has expired or is due to expire by the 31 July 2020 and you are stil unable to travel, you will need to contact the Corona Virus helpline to get an exceptional indemnity grace period.  This is not a grant of leave and is not a visa.  You will also need to clearly evidence why you have not travelled as the Home Office's position is that it is now possible to leave the UK.

It is not clear what permission will be granted to you if you apply for this concession e.g. whether you will retain the same status you currently have in the UK.

If you are an LSE student and you have applied under this concession, please inform ISVAT so that we can keep track of students in this situation who may need support and so we can record who has been granted an extension under this concession.

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

Added 7 August 2020

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 quaratine 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 need to register with the Police within 14 days of my arrival in the UK but I have to domplete quarantine.  Should I still go to OVRO?

Added 7 August 2020

Some nationalities need to register with the Police within 14 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.

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

When you have your visa

 

 

I'm a registered student and hope to continue my studies overseas in Michaelmas Term 2020/21.  Will my visa be affected?

Last updated 7 August 2020

The Home Office have confirmed that continuing your studies overseas, including completing your assessments, will not be considered a breach of your conditions.  This includes the start of Michaelmas Term 2020/21. 

This means that any students who have opted to continue their studies overseas will not have their sponsorship withdrawn during the period of the concession and their Tier 4 visa will still be valid.  However, you will need to remain engaged with your studies to benefit from this concession. You should also note that as sponsorship has not been withdrawn, the time spent on your Tier 4 visa is likely to count towards the cap on degree level studies even if you are not in the UK.

You will be able to indicate when you re-register your intended date of return. Further information will be sent to registered students on the next academic year in due course.

I'm an undergraduate/ General Course student and I'm considering deferring my assessments.  Will my visa be affected?

Last updated 7 August 2020

The Home Office have issued guidance for sponsors on distance learning during this period.  The concessions now last the full assessment and IRDAP period. However, they are reliant on students continuing to engage with their studies e.g. submit their online assessments as expected unless it is related to COVID-19.  

If a student fails to engage with their studies Tier 4 sponsors are required to report this to the UKVI as normal.

Deferring assessments during IRDAP

If you defer assessments in IRDAP, you would be required to re-take these assessments in the summer exam period 2021. 

If you defer assessments in IRDAP and are unable to progress or be awarded your degree, LSE is required to report this to the UKVI. This will mean that your current visa is either curtailed (if you have been unable to progress to the next year of teaching) or will expire as expected in October 2020.  You would be unable to extend your visa to remain in the UK until your next assessment period and would be required to return home in accordance with the UKVI guidance. You will need to make a new visa application to return to the UK for your exams and will be contacted by ISVAT with your options in the Lent Term 2021. 

If you have any questions about how deferrals may affect your visa, please contact ISVAT for advice.

I'm a postgraduate student on a Masters degree and I'm considering deferring my dissertation. Will my visa be affected and will I be eligible for the Graduate route the following year?

Last updated 7 August 2020

If you are a postgraduate student you will not be eligible for the In Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP). If you defer your dissertation, LSE will be required to inform the UKVI that the School is no longer sponsoring your Tier 4 visa.

Our current guidance on what happens to your visa if you defer your assessments can be found  in the Changes to your programme of study section of the following web page:

When you have your visa

This guidance applies under the concessions currently in place from the UKVI and there is no change to the process or outcomes. 

If you are considering interrupting your studies, please discuss this with the Student Services Centre Advice Team and your Department to find out if this is the best option for you. Deferrals should be for academic reasons and not to facilitate extensions of visa or access to future routes.

Some further details of the route have been released that state you must have completed your degree in the UK. This may mean that if you return on the new Student visa for the dissertation period next you may be eligible.  However, there are still a lot of unknown details as the rules have not been published including:

  • The length of Student visa you would be granted (Tier 4 would no longer exist) - if your period of study is less than six months you may not be granted a visa long enough to receive your results and switch into the Graduate route;
  • Whether any breaks in study are likely to affect eligiblity;
  • Whether they will still state a minimum period of study in the UK.

This detail will not be available until the rules are published, so if you choose to defer solely on the possibilty of delaying your graduation to become eligible, you do so at your own risk.  We cannot guarantee until the rules become available in Spring 2021 the exact details of eligiblity.

Deferring your dissertation solely to be able to extend your Tier 4 visa in the UK or to try to benefit from the Graduate Route is a risk. Neither are guaranteed and you could find yourself in a position where you have to return home and then apply for a visa which could not give you enough time to find future employment in the UK, if this your aim.

If you are in the UK and plan to defer your assessments, please contact ISVAT for advice on the potential immigration implications. 

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

Last updated 7 August 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 recommend that you return to the UK by the 6 April 2021.

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?

Updated 7 August 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.  

I need to apply for a UK visa from within the UK. Are visa application centres currently open?

Last updated 7 August 2020

Sopra Steria have begun to re-open UKVCAS centres in the UK. We have been advised that if you have already provided biometric information in the past, it may be possible that this can be used for your future application and you may not require an appointment.  You will be contacted by the UKVI if this is the case and the email will inform you what steps you need to take.

We are not aware if you would be refunded the cost of biometrics or any out-of-hours appointment payments you may have made.

UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services

If you are currently in the process of applying for a Tier 4, Tier 4 DES or Start-up visa in the UK, the UKVI are advising that it is still possible to apply for these visas in the UK.

Please adhere to the conditions of your visa during the process.

When you have your visa

 

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

Last updated 7 August 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 you have been awarded must be the one that was stated on your CAS;
  • You must have a valid Tier 4/Student visa at the point of application;
  • You must have completed the whole of your degree in 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

 

Twitter

SSC ISVAT LSE_ISVAT

RT @VFSGlobal: The UK Visa Application Centre in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia will re-open from 27 July 2020. For details, please visit the indivi…

3 weeks ago

Reply Retweet Favorite

SSC ISVAT LSE_ISVAT

RT @VFSGlobal: The UK Visa Application Centre in La Paz, Bolivia will re-open from 27 July 2020. For details, please visit the individual c…

3 weeks ago

Reply Retweet Favorite