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 1 June 2020

Updates to page

On 1 June 2020 we updated all relevant sections based on the updated UKVI guidance. UKCISA have a helpful summary of the most recent changes:

UKCISA

Cancellation of Summer School Sessions and Language Centre Pre-sessional English Language Programmes

All Summer School sessions have been cancelled.  The Language Centre have also cancelled their pre-sessional English Language programmes (LN904 and LN905).

Further details of both can be found on the following web pages:

Summer School Statement 

Language Centre Statement

UKVI Updates

Last updated 1 June 2020

The UKVI have now updated Tier 4 sponsors on concessions for COVID-19 and the relevant sections of this web page have been updated to reflect the concessions dated the 29 May 2020. 

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

The UKVI have also produced two factsheets on the current situation in the UK and overseas with regards to immigration.

UKVI Factsheet: Visa holders and short-term residents in the UK 

UKVI Factsheet: Visa customers outside the UK

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.

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 1 June 2020

The Home Office has now extended it's previous concessions for those with visas expiring by the 31 May 2020 to the 31 July 2020. If your visa has expired or is due to expire by the 31 July 2020 and you did not plan to remain in the UK, you are now required to complete an online form to obtain temporary leave until the 31 July 2020.

Application Form

Your visa will be extended to 31 July 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You should not use this form if you are extending your Tier 4 visa and plan to remain in the UK.  You should apply as normal.

The UKVI will let you know when your request has been received and when your leave has been extended.  The UKVI advise that you should receive a response within five working days.  ISVAT are unable to expedite these requests. We also advise that if you apply for this concession that you check your junk mail as the email confirmation may go there.

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 am here on a Standard Visitor/Short-term Student visa and want to apply to switch into Tier 4 in the UK?  Is this possible?

Updated 1 June 2020

The original guidance from the UKVI suggested that it would be possible under the current circumstances to switch into a long-term visa in the UK from an immigration permission that normally requires an overseas application regardless of the expiry date of your current permission.

The UKVI clarified that this was only intended for those people whose visa expired between the 24 January 2020 and the 31 July 2020.  If you have a visa which expires after the 31 July 2020, the guidance suggests you cannot switch in the UK.

The immigration sector is unclear what the outcome would be for an application made by an individual to switch into a route they cannot normally apply for in the UK, if their visa expires after the 31 July 2020.

I'm an applicant planning to join LSE in September and I'm here as a tourist/Short-term Student - can I apply for my Tier 4 visa in the UK?

The current guidance only allows visitors whose visas expire by the 31 July 2020 to switch into a long term route exceptionally in the UK.  Even then you must meet the requirements of the Tier 4 route and as you cannot apply more than three months before the official start date it is too soon to apply for a September start.  

Also you can only apply for a Tier 4 visa you are living in, not just visiting so it will not be possible to travel to another country as a tourist and apply for your Tier 4 visa from there.  Your visa application would be refused.

If you are unable to apply in the UK,we strongly recommend that you plan to apply from your home country and should make plans to return home as soon as possible.  Once Visa Application Centres re-open, it is unlikely that the Home Office will be as flexible as they are at the moment.  It is a risk to rely on the current concessions existing closer to the date you can apply for your Tier 4 visa.

I have an approved absence and my assessments are online. Do my Tier 4 working conditions change if I'm in the UK?

Last updated 1 June 2020

The Tier 4 working conditions have changed but only if you are a doctor, nurse or paramedic working for the NHS on a Tier 4 visa. If you are registered as an official NHS Volunteer responder, you will also not be considered to be in breach of your conditions, but must adhere to social distancing and the conditions of the role.

This does not include people who choose to volunteer in other roles or any other type of work linked to the current situation, e.g. health policy.  The same restrictions apply on all other types of work. 

The summer assessment period is still term-time, even though all assessments will be delivered online.  You are restricted to a maximum of 20 hours paid or unpaid work until the end of the summer term.

12 month Masters students still do not benefit from a summer vacation.

LSE has not suspended studies but has moved teaching and assessments online.  The UKVI concession for students whose studies have been suspended and are considered as being on vacation, allowing them to work full time, does not apply to LSE students during term-time.

LSE Term Dates

Details of Tier 4 working conditions can be found in the Working during your studies section of the following web page:

When you have your visa

All restrictions on the type of work you can complete remain the same e.g. no self-employment including freelancing and consultancy.

Please note these conditions only apply if you are working in the UK, including if you are working remotely in the UK for an overseas company but being paid overseas. The working of your Tier 4 visa does not apply if you are completing the work outside the UK.

I'm am going to complete my assessments overseas but plan to return to the UK for work. I have an offer for a Tier 2 position/a summer internship.  Will this be possible and will I have any difficulties at the border?

Last updated 1 June 2020

Unfortunately, ISVAT are unable to advise on when current restrictions are likely to be lifted and what long-term effects this may have on future Tier 2 positions or summer internship schemes. This is an ever-changing situation and we are unable to anticipate what future issues, if any, may arise.

If I complete my assessments overseas and my Tier 4 visa is not withdrawn, can I return after my programme end date to complete a summer internship in the UK?

If you are completing your assessments overseas and only plan to return to the UK in the summer for an internship, plus  you have no further studies to undertake at LSE, we are unable to guarantee that you may not be queried over your intentions at the border.

Under normal circumstances, it is possible to return on your Tier 4 visa after your programme end date to undertake work.  However, this is still a risk and the Border Force Officer can choose not to grant you entry if they think your intentions for being in the UK have changed.  For example, if you have completed your studies overseas but are only returning to work after your programme end date, your intentions may be queried and there is a risk that you may be denied entry. 

We advise against returning to the UK on your Tier 4 visa having completed your assessments overseas and after your programme end date, solely for the purpose to work.

We are also aware that some summer internships may no longer be taking place.  Before planning to return solely for work, you should discuss with your employer whether your position will still be available in the current climate.

You should also refer to your own country's guidance on travel to the UK and remaining in the UK if you have been advised to return before choosing to travel to the UK for work.

Do the concessions for switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 apply from outside the UK?

We have requested a concession to the rules to allow the concession for switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 to also apply to overseas applications in the current climate.  We are awaiting a response through our representative body, the Russell Group.

We will update this page when we have further details.

I'm going to continue my studies and take my assessments overseas due to COVID-19.  Will my visa be affected?

Last updated 1 June 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 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.

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

Last updated 1 June 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 the Summer assessment period

All undergraduate and General Course students are eligible for the In-year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP). The confirmed dates for IRDAP have now been sent to all undergraduate students by a School email.

Before seeking a deferral please speak to your department or contact the SSC Advice  team using the SSC enquiry form. Deferrals should only be considered for academic or well being issues.

If you have a valid Tier 4 visa, which will cover the IRDAP period, you will not be able to extend your visa on the basis of having submitted deferrals. If you are a registered undergraduate/General Course student considering deferring your assessments solely to obtain an extension of your Tier 4 visa to look for employment, this option will not be available to you..

Due to the exceptional deferral process created due to COVID-19 and the earlier IRDAP dates also relating to COVID-19, LSE will keep Tier 4 students sponsored between the summer assessment period and when you resume your studies in IRDAP. This means that if you defer assessments your visa will not be affected if you plan to sit these deferred assessments in IRDAP.

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 assessments/interrupting my summer term teaching. Will my visa be affected?

Last updated 1 June 2020

If you are a postgraduate student you will not be eligible for the In Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP). In this case, LSE may be required to report non-progression depending on the number of assessments you choose to defer, when you defer them and if your ability to be awarded your degree/progress into your next year of teaching is affected. 

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. 

I'm a Masters in Management student and I am considering interrupting my studies to do my summer term teaching and visit next year.  Will this affect my visa?

If you choose to interrupt your summer term teaching for the Masters in Management, you will be reported to the UKVI for non-progression.  This will start the curtailment process for your Tier 4 visa. You can find more details on interrupton of studies on the following web page:

When You Have Your Visa

You would only be sponsored to return to your studies in the summer 2021. Your expected date of return would depend on whether you have also deferred assessments or just interrupted your teaching.  You are unable to interrupt your teaching, but extend your Tier 4 visa to remain in the UK, because you will not  re-engage with your studies until summer 2021.

If you are considering interrupting your studies solely because you wish to become eligible for the Graduate Worker Route in 2021, rather than academic reasons, we strongly advise against this.  We are aware that there is likely to be a minimum period of studies in the UK required to be eligible for the route and this is likely to be continuous studies on a visa.

If you interrupt your studies, the visa you would be granted for 2021 would be less than six months in length.  You risk being granted only an additional seven days at the end of your visa in line with the rules. If you only have seven days at the end of your visa, you would not be able to receive your results in the UK and would thherefore not be eligible to switch into the Graduate Worker route.  Also, your period of study is also likely to be too short a period of time to be eligible for the Graduate Worker Route.

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.

If I defer my assessments this year and move my graduation date to next year, will I become eligible for the Graduate Worker route?

The rules for the Graduate Worker route will not be available until Spring 2021, but we understand that there may be a minimum amount of time you need to have been studying in the UK to be eligible and this is likely to be continuous study on your visa.  Also, when you apply for Tier 4 solely to attend retake assessments, you may only be granted an additional seven days at the end of your visa because the period of study is less than six months. This would mean that your visa would expire before the release of your results making you ineligible for the Graduate Worker route.

You should only consider deferring your assessments for academic or wellbeing issues.  It is a risk to defer them if your sole intention is to move your graduation date to become eligible for the Graduate Worker route and we advise against this is this your main purpose for your decision.

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 1 June 2020

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.

ISVAT Enquiry Form

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

Updated 1 June 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

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

I'm currently studying overseas and will be doing my assessments overseas.  Will I be able to extend my Tier 4 visa to give me more time to find a sponsored work position in the UK?

Last updated 1 June 2020

The main intention of a Tier 4 visa is studies.  LSE will be unable to sponsor students under Tier 4 to allow them more time to be in the UK to find employment or for work purposes only.

We are only able to sponsor students under Tier 4 who have genuine studies to undertake.

I'm an EU/EEA national.  Are EU Settlement Scheme applications affected?

Last updated  1 June 2020

Applications for the EU Settlement Scheme are still possible if you are an EU/EEA national with a biometric passport or ID card.  We understand that the UKVI are not able to process postal evidence of ID at the current time.

Non-EU/EEA nationals applying as the partner of an EU/EEA national should be aware that UKVCAS centres are currently closed for appointments, so it may not be possible to provide your biometric information.

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

Last updated 1 June 2020

Sopra Steria have closed all UKVCAS centres in the UK and they are no longer booking appointments for providing biometrics. We have been advised that if you already had an appointment in place, this will be rescheduled for six weeks time initially.

We are aware that some centres will re-open from 1 June 2020, but will initially be dealing with outstanding appointments:

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.

You may wish to submit your application but we are unable to secure an appointment for you or guarantee when you will be granted your new permission. You may also be notified that your appointment is cancelled at shor-notice and your application is placed on hold. Please adhere to the conditions of your visa during the process.

When you have your visa

 

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

Last updated 1 June 2020

VfS Global and TLS have closed most of their application centres for the UK. We are aware that some centres are now re-opening for appointments for applications that are on hold e.g. China.  We recommend that you check the news for your specific country.

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

VfS Global

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

I'm joining LSE in 2020/21 academic year.  Should I start researching how to make a Tier 4 visa application?

Last updated 1 June 2020

We are looking forward to welcoming our new international students next year and always recommend it's never too soon to start your research into applying for a Tier 4 visa.

You can find detailed advice on your particular level of study on our designated web page:

Applying for a Tier 4 Visa for LSE

IMPORTANT: Receiving a CAS number from LSE does not automatically mean you are guaranteed your visa.  It's extremely important that you ensure you meet the immigration rules before submitting an application.

Over the summer, ISVAT will run Zoom webinars on:

  • Preparing to apply for your Tier 4 visa
  • Meeting the Financial Requirements
  • Applying for your Tier 4 visa in the UK/Overseas
  • Working During your Studies - Information for New Students
  • Working After your Studies - What do we know?
  • The EU Settlement Scheme for new residents arriviing before the 31 December 2020

You can find dates and times for the different events in the events section of the following web page:

ISVAT FAQS

If you have any questions about the Tier 4 application process and your options when in the UK, please contact the International Student Visa Advice Team (ISVAT). We'll be happy to help.

Please ensure all the details have been entered correctly in the Twitter control.