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 11 March 2021

The current UKVI guidance was updated on the 11 March 2021:

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

Sponsor specific guidance, which was updated on the 4 March 2021 and includes information on the Graduate Route,  can be found at:

Covid-19: Guidance for Student sponsors, migrants and Short-term students

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

UKCISA 

Details of the Test to Release scheme can be found on the following web page:

Test to Release

 

Where can I find the latest information on travel restrictions and testing requirements?

Added 15 February 2021

For up to date advice on travel restrictions and testing requirements, please refer to the School's COVID-19 FAQs for students:

LSE: Coronavirus FAQS for students

 

My visa expired in January 2021 and I obtained exceptional assurance. I don't have any other immigration options to switch into.  Are there any concessions in place allowing me to stay longer?

Updated 11 March2021

If you applied for exceptional assurance, this information was updated on 4 March 2021.

You are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK where it is possible to do so or apply to regularise your stay in the UK. You are allowed to access Visa and Immigration services as these are considered an essential public service and will continue to operate safely under local and national restrictions.

If you intend to leave the UK but have not been able to do so and you have a visa or leave that expires between 1 March 2021 and 31 March 2021 you may request additional time to stay, known as ‘exceptional assurance’.

Please submit your request for an exceptional assurance by emailing cihassuranceteam@homeoffice.gov.uk with the following details:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • Home Office, GWF or any other reference number
  • type of visa
  • expiry date of visa
  • reason for request
  • evidence of flight or evidence showing reason you can’t leave

The subject header of your email should read “Request for an assurance”.

In your email you should attach evidence to show why you cannot leave the UK. For example, if you can’t leave the UK because you can’t find a flight before your leave/visa expires, you’ll need to submit a copy of a confirmed flight ticket. If you can’t leave the UK because you have coronavirus, you’ll need to submit confirmation of your positive coronavirus test result.

During the time in which your request for ‘exceptional assurance’ is pending you will continue on the conditions as per your current or most recently expired visa.

If you are granted ‘exceptional assurance’ it will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired. If conditions allowed you to work, study or rent accommodation you may continue to do so during the period of your exceptional assurance. Exceptional assurance does not grant you leave. It is a means to protect those who are unable to leave the UK due to COVID-19 restrictions and not to facilitate travel, other than to return home.

If you’ve already been given assurance but your circumstances have changed or you’re unable to leave the UK by the assurance date previously given, you must reapply using the process above. You will need to clearly state that you’re making a subsequent application. You’ll be asked to provide new supporting evidence.

If you intend to stay in the UK

In order to remain in the UK, you will need to apply for the relevant permission to stay. Where eligible, you’ll be able to submit a permission to stay application form from within the UK.

You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for and pay the UK application fee.

The terms of your current permission will remain the same until your application is decided. If you are switching into work or study routes you may be able to commence work or study whilst your application is under consideration, depending on the terms of your current permission.

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’.

UKVI: COVID-19 Guidance

The key point is that whilst the conditions of your visa continue, exceptional assurance is not a grant of leave. This means that it is not a visa and if you choose to benefit from this scheme, we strongly advise that you keep a record of this and the number of days you remained in the UK beyond the original expiry date of your visa to provide in future immigration applications.

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 15 February 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 Student visa holders required to collect their BRP from the Post Office, were able to do this until the end of 2020. We are currently checking on arrangements for BRP collection given the current environment and awaiting updated guidance from the UKVI.

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.

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 22 February 2021

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.

OVRO remains closed for appointments until further notice.  Those people with appointments booked will be sent a cancellation notice.  OVRO assures us that there will be no penalty for late registration under the current circumstances.  Their new online registration portal will open in April 2021, with priority being given to those whose appointment was cancelled in January due to closure.  Once we have full details we will update our information about registering with the Police in London on the following web page:

When you have your visa

My Student 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 15 February 2021

If your Student 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.

 I applied for my TStudent visa but my plans changed and my 90 day sticker has expired.  What do I need to do?

In this case, you will need to apply for a replacement vignette at a cost. You will be granted a new 90 day vignette.

You should not leave applying for the replacement 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.

The latest information from the Home Office is as follows:

If your 30 day or 90 day visa vignette to work, study or join family has expired

If your 90 day vignette has expired, you will need to apply for a replacement by completing the online form. The cost of replacing an expired 90 day vignette is £154 and you will need to make an appointment to resubmit your biometric information.

We strongly advise that you only apply for a new visa, or apply to replace an expired vignette, when you are confident you can travel to the UK. The new vignette will be valid for a period of 90 days. If you cannot travel during this time, you may need to apply again to update your vignette.

If you have submitted an application for a replacement vignette, and are still awaiting a decision, but now no longer intend to travel, you should submit a withdrawal request at the Visa Application Centre that you applied from in order for your passport to be released back to you.

Details of the processes can be found on the following web pages :

UKCISA - Coronavirus information

UKCISA - Applying for a replacement vignette

 

I'm an EU/EEA/Swiss student joining LSE in the 2020/21 academic year.  Will I need a visa?

Last updated 15 February 2021

The UK left the EU fully on the 31 December 2020. If you did not arrive in the UK before this date and become eligible for residency, 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.  You will need to contact ISVAT for advice because you may need to apply for a Student Route visa to join LSE in the Lent Term.

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 face.

Further details can be found on our pages for EU/EEA nationals:

EU/EEA nationals 

I was already studying at the School in-person and have now moved to online will my visa be affected?

Last Updated 15 February 2021

The UKVI have confirmed that those people who already hold a Tier 4/Student visa and had started their studies in-person, will be able to continue online.  You will be able to continue to study online. This concession will only last for the 2020/21 academic year.

The UKVI state the following:

Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship for new students who have been issued permission under the Student or Child Student routes but are undertaking distance learning because they have been unable to travel to the UK, or are in the UK but have not yet been able to attend their studies in person due to Covid-19. If a student stops engaging with their distance learning for more than 30 days, whether overseas or in the UK, their sponsor must withdraw sponsorship.

UKVI: COVID 19 Guidance

If you have yet to apply for your visa and do not intend to come to the UK for any of your studies because you will study completely online, you should not plan to apply for a Student visa.

The UKVI state the following:

New international students who have not yet applied for permission on the Student or Child Student routes but want to start a course which will wholly be studied overseas by distance learning, do not require sponsorship under the Student or Child Student routes. This is because they do not need to travel to the UK.

UKVI: COVID 19 Guidance

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

Last updated 15 February 2021

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 and complete your final terms in the UK.  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. This does not affect students whose studies go beyond this academic year.

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/Student 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 and Lent Term, your visa will not be affected if you are planning to return to the UK to complete your studies.  However, you will need to speak to your supervisor and the PhD Academy team to ensure this is recorded correctly depending on your circumstances.

The UKVI COVID concessions no longer permit students requesting a break in studies of longer than 60 days to remain sponsored.  This will now be classified as an interruption of studies and sponsorship would need to be removed.

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 15 February 2021

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

We have been advised that an absence of 12 months is permitted under the current circumstances if it is related to COVID-19. Further details can be founbd on the UKCISA web pages:

UKCISA: Coronavirus guidance for students

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.

You may also wish to refer to the following Free Movement articles:

How do Covid-related absences from the UK affect EU settled status?

Lengthy absences from the UK can put EU settled status at risk

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 have arrived 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 1 April 2021

If you missed the UKCISA webinar for students, a recording is available below: 

UKCISA:Graduate Route Event

The immigration rules for the Graduate Route were published on the 4 March 2021 and the COVID-19 guidance was updated to reflect these changes.

UKVI: COVID-19 Guidance for Students

There is also a Graduate Route factsheet available from the Home Office:

Graduate Route factsheet

The rules  only give the outline of the route and the application process and operational guidance will not become available until the route becomes live. 

Please note that official advice and confirmation of eligibility on this route should only come from ISVAT and the Visa Compliance Team in the Student Services Centre.  Your department or other divisions of LSE cannot confirm eligibility. 

We will arrange sessions for students on the Graduate Route soon. Details will be given on how to book on this web page and our designated web page for working on a visa:

Working on a Visa in the UK

What are the key points in the immigration rules?

  • Although, the government guidance states the 21st June 2021, we recommend that students who started their degree in 2020, have a programme end date of 18 June 2021 and have not yet studied in the UK or campus enrolled, travel to the UK and campus enrol at LSE on or before the 18 June 2021. If you arrive after your course end date we will be unable to campus enrol you and this is the marker that we will use to verify your arrival date to the Home Office. Campus enrolment will resume on campus from the 4 May 2021 for students who have yet to enrol in person at LSE.  Bookings will open soon.
  • If you are a 12 month MSc student who started their degree in 2020 and has yet to travel to the UK and campus enrol, you will need to plan to arrive in the UK and campus enrol at LSE by 21 June 2021. Campus enrolment will resume on campus from the 4 May 2021 for students who have yet to enrol in person at LSE.  Bookings will open soon.
  • If you are a student who started your degree in 2020 and are due to complete in 2021,  you have already travelled to the UK on your visa and campus enrolled, you will need to arrive in the UK by the end date of your programme to be eligible for the route.
  • If you started your degree before 2020 and are due to complete in 2021, you must apply for the Graduate Route in the UK before your current visa expires.
  • The route will open for applications on 09:00 am 1 July 2021
  • You will not be able to apply for the visa until LSE has confirmed to the UKVI you have been awarded your degree.  This will be done via the UKVI database where your CAS was created post-results release. Until you have been informed that your successful completion has been verified to the UKVI, you must not submit an application. You cannot use a letter or transcript to confirm your successful completion. If you do this, you should be refused your visa.

    Students who receive their results in July will be verified to the Home Office after the July results release date - you will need to allow time for the verification to take place

    Students who receive their results in November will be verified to the Home Office after the November results release date - you will need to allow time for the verification to take place, especially as this is when the majority of international students at LSE will be eligible.

    The Home Office require us to verify all student eligiblity regardless of whether you plan to apply for the visa or not.

    You cannot apply using provisional results only final resuts.
  • You will need your most recent CAS number to be able to apply for the visa.
  • The application fee will be £700
  • You will need to pay £624 IHS for each year of the visa.  For a two year visa this will be £1,248 and for a three-year visa (PhDs only) this will be £1,872.  This will be payable upfront at the point of application. 
  • You can only be granted the Graduate Route once. If you do not use the visa you will lose the opportunity to apply again.
  • You cannot study a degree programme at a institution with a Student sponsor licence. For example you cannot use your Graduate Route visa to work full time and study a Masters degree.  
  • The degree must have been completed wholly in the UK with some exceptions such as study abroad that is an integral and assessed part of the programme e.g. MSc GMiM. This can only be a maximum of 12 months and any longer periods outside the UK will affect eligiblity e.g. two year field work at PhD level.

  • All study must have been done on a Tier 4/Student visa.
  • The degree you have been awarded must be the one that was stated on your CAS, unless you have transferred to a programme that you can complete without having to extend your visa.  

  • If you transfer to a new degree programme that requires you to extend your visa, you will not be eligible for the Graduate Route.
  • You must have a valid Tier 4/Student visa to be able to apply for the visa. You cannot apply if you have another type of visa.

  • You can only apply for the visa in the UK.

  • If you have successfully been granted a Doctorate Extension Scheme visa (one year post study work visa for PhD students) you will not be eligible for the Graduate Route.
  • 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.

  • Diploma in Accounting and Finance/Diploma in Economics students will not be eligible for the route because they are not exiting with a Masters degree.

  • 9/10 months Masters students can apply for the Graduate Route.
  • Double-degree students where year two is in LSE, but you are not sponsored on a visa for 12 months are not eligible.
  • Double-degree students where year one is at LSE and year two is overseas are not eligible because you will not have a UK Student visa for year two of your programme.
  • You will only be eligible to have your dependants with you if they are already in the UK on a dependant visa.  You cannot obtain the Graduate visa and then bring your dependants to the UK.
  • There will be no maintenance (financial) requirements and the English language requirement will be met by you being awarded your degree.

FAQ: I am a postgraduate student. If I defer assessments until 2022, will my eligibility for the Graduate Route be affected?

If you are a postgraduate student considering deferring assessments, you should note that this may affect your ability to remain sponsored.  The re-sit period for postgraduate students will be held in January 2022 and it may not be possible to sponsor students for this period due to the gap in your academic engagement, your current visa may still be valid, the length of the resit and deferred assessment period and whether RDAP is completely online.  If you are planning to defer assessments for non-academic reasons and solely to move your end date to 2022 this is a risk and you may lose eligiblity for the route. 

 

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