COVID Frequently Asked Questions
 

Do I have to mandatorily self-isolate when I arrive in the UK? (BANGLADESHI STUDENTS MUST SELF ISOLATE)

You need to self-isolate in the place you’re staying for the first 10 days after you arrive, unless you’ve only visited an exempt country, territory or region. This is because of coronavirus (COVID-19). You may be fined up to £10,000 if you do not self-isolate when you need to. You can be prosecuted if you do not pay the fine on time. You may be able to end self-isolation early if you pay for a private coronavirus test.

This guidance is for England. There are different self-isolation rules and penalties if you’re travelling to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

How to self-isolate?

Please visit the following government link to get more information on the Dos and Dont’s when self isolating. It is vital you read this so you are aware how to follow the local regulations. BEWARE OF QUICK REGS, CHANGES AT SHORT NOTICE. DO NOT

VISIT: Coronavirus (COVID-19): how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK

Will international students be able to access the vaccine?

International students who live in the UK and are registered with a GP will be able to access the Covid-19 vaccination in the UK, just as they are currently able to access healthcare. This means that older international students or those with underlying medical conditions will fall into priority categories, in the same way as the domestic population. International students in the UK will be able to access the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as it is rolled out across the country, meaning they are likely to receive the vaccine much quicker in the UK than their home country and will be protected when they return home. The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and immunisations will begin from December 2020. The UK will be the first country to be fully vaccinated, likely by late spring/early summer, meaning September 2021 entry will be very safe.

Will my student visa be affected if I don’t travel?

Students that have been issued a visa and decide not to travel, must inform the institution they are due to attend so their visa status can be updated. Should students wish to defer their studies, they would need to apply for a new visa as their current visa would not cover the full period of study for the next course.

What plans are currently in place for the 2021 academic year?

All UK universities are currently making plans that will cover various potential scenarios for the 2021 academic year. Many campuses will be open, but hybrid learning will continue to take place, with face-to-face tuition and digital lectures and seminars allowing social distancing guidelines to be followed.

What is in place for student travel over the winter period?

End of term in 2020

In England: On 11 November, the Department for Education (DfE), published guidance on student movement and plans for the end of term. It highlights that students should consider requirements both on entry to their destination and on re-entry to the UK, their ability to access course materials overseas, and that students travelling to the EU should also consult relevant guidance regarding the UK and EU transition. It also highlights 'Our borders are open for international students wishing to study in the UK in person. Before travelling, international students are advised to contact their current or chosen university to find out how they are adapting their teaching in light of the current COVID-19 context.'

In Scotland: On 25 November, the Scottish government published guidance (here and here) for students returning home for the winter break. The guidance states that international students can return home subject to any travel restrictions in place by other countries. Students should also note any quarantine rules which may apply in the country they are travelling to and they should be aware that travel advice may change whilst overseas and regularly check the Scottish government website for updates. The guidance advises that international students are tested for COVID-19 before returning home, instructions on how to do this will be provided by universities. International students who are considering a visit home, with the intention of returning to Scotland afterwards, must follow the guidance on international travel and quarantine as appropriate when arriving back in Scotland.

 

Start of new term in 2021

In England: on 2 December, DfE published guidance on supporting higher education providers (HEPs) to enable domestic and international students in England to return safely following the winter break, by staggering this process and facilitating testing for all.  The guidance states that HEPs may wish to consider prioritising the return of international students from weeks commencing 25 January and 1 February and that ‘HE providers should try to be as flexible as possible with international students travelling to the UK from overseas, especially if they have already booked travel before this guidance was issued’. It emphasises that the UK is ‘open for both returning and new international students wishing to study in the UK, and our HE providers are looking forward to welcoming them to campuses in the new year.’

In Scotland: in December, the Scottish Government published guidance for higher education institutions on students living away from home and returning after the winter break. The return of students to university will be staggered over 6 weeks and testing will be in place as part of the return. The guidance states that ‘international students may return to accommodation in the new term as they originally planned’ and that they must follow the guidance on international travel and quarantining (where it applies). International students should be aware that travel advice may change while they are overseas, and are advised to regularly check information on country exemptions for updates. The guidance advises that ‘returning or new students planning to travel to Scotland from overseas in January should check with their university in advance to confirm when in-person teaching begins, when they should arrive on campus and the wellbeing support available to them’. 

What is in place for students who remain at university over the winter break?

Universities are used to supporting students who do not wish to or cannot travel home or elsewhere during the winter break. This year, many universities have plans in place to support such students, such as some international students who will remain at university throughout the winter period. Students should speak to their university to find out what support is available. In England, DfE guidance states that 'Where students remain in their university accommodation over the winter break, HE providers should continue to make sure they are well looked after. This includes paying particular regard to the specific needs of certain groups during this period, including care leavers, estranged students, and international students who will require access to welfare and mental health support and essential services during the holiday periods. This has been a particularly difficult year especially for students and we ask that special plans are created for students who stay on campus or alone in university areas over Christmas.'

Will universities close in the UK due to Covid-19 outbreaks and if so what support will be available to students?

Universities are following government advice and are well prepared to deal with a range of scenarios. For many universities this currently means a mix of in-person and online provision. Universities will be offering a different amount of online or face-to-face provision depending on the local restrictions in place, and the individual circumstances of the university. Four tiers of restrictions have been set out by the Department for Education (DfE) for areas subject to local restrictions, with the highest tier explaining that DfE expects 'the majority of provision to be online, with buildings open for essential workers only.' For many students this is likely to mean increased online provision. During the outbreak in the UK in spring 2020, universities continued to support those students who remained on campus. Support such as food packages and increased mental health support were available. Universities have been planning for a range of scenarios since the spring and have plans in place for such circumstances. Students are advised to check their university's website or get in touch with the student support team to find out more about the support available.

 

What support is available for international students in the UK who may now be facing financial hardship because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

Students should initially contact their universities as they may have additional support in place and hardship funds that students are able to access. Measures introduced by the UK government to support hardship as a result of Covid-19 can be accessed by international students. Information on these schemes can be found here. It is unlikely that international students would be eligible to claim Universal Credit. Further information on this can be found on the UKCISA website.

Some students plan to co-finance their studies with a part time job. Can they still expect to do this given the impact the pandemic has on employment?

We would always recommend that students carefully plan their financing, but this is especially important given the current precarious situation. For more information on working during studies, students should refer to the UKCISA website.

If a student leaves the UK during the Coronavirus outbreak and cannot return within 60 days, will they lose their Tier 4 /Student visa?

Until the end of the 2020-21 academic year, the government will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties where students have chosen to return overseas, but wish to continue their current studies via distance learning; these students will be able to keep their Student/Tier 4 visa. 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.

If all classes are moved online and attendance cannot be registered, are students at risk of losing their Tier 4 visa/Student Visa?

In government advice, current students may continue their studies via distance learning, whether from the UK or abroad, for the entirety of the 2020-21 academic year. New international students who do not currently hold a Student visa may commence their studies via distance learning, but must gain a Student visa before travelling to the UK.

Can students work or volunteer for the NHS without breaching the terms of their Tier 4 /Student visa?

Students who have work rights and are employed by an NHS Trust as a doctor, nurse or paramedic will not be restricted to 20 hours work per week during term time and may work without limit on the number of hours permitted. The existing rules regarding volunteering and undertaking voluntary work as set out in the Student caseworker guidance will still apply during this period.

Do universities still need to carry out in-person right to work checks?

Right to work checks have been temporarily adjusted due to coronavirus. This is to make it easier for employers to carry them out. As of 30 March 2020, the following temporary changes have been made:

  • Checks can now be carried out over video calls
  • Job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
  • Employers should use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents

If students in the UK are currently awaiting a new Tier 4/ Student visa, can they start their new course even if they do not know whether their application was successful?

The government has recently updated its guidance. It states that if students were in the UK by 31 July, they can start their course or studies before their visa application has been decided if:

  • Their sponsor is a Tier 4/ Student sponsor
  • They have been given a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
  • They submitted their application before their current visa expired and they show their sponsor evidence of this
  • The course they will start is the same as the one listed on their CAS
  • They have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required

If their application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused, they must stop their course or studies.

What will happen if a student is unable to complete their course as a result of Covid-19?

Students who are unable to complete their course as a result of Covid-19 will be able to apply to extend their Tier 4/Student visa in the UK, exempt from usual academic progression rules. Additionally, students withdrawing from studies as a result of Covid-19 will be discounted from sponsor’s data in future Basic Compliance Assessments. Sponsors must notify UKVI of the reason for withdrawal and keep their own records of such cases.

When and how can I collect my BRP?

When the Home Office grants you an entry clearance (visa), it tells you that you need to collect your BRP from a specified post office or from your education provider, depending on the information you put in your application. You have 90 days in which to collect your BRP.

For details, including how to manage self-isolation and BRP collection and how to notify the Home Office if you have difficulties in collecting your BRP, see gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/collect.

If you arrive in the UK shortly before the expiry date on your vignette, or you cannot travel to the UK before then, and you are worried about not being able to collect your BRP in time, contact your sponsor if you are collecting from them, or you can notify the Home Office.

Universities, colleges and schools are remaining open, even during periods of tighter restrictions. This is also the case for post offices, though some may close temporarily.

How will Graduate Route (post-study work) will work ?

The Graduate Route (new two-year work route) is still due to launch in summer 2021 - see Coronavirus (COVID-19): Student sponsors, migrants and short-term students.  The Government has confirmed that time spent studying outside the UK because of Coronavirus (COVID-19) will not count against you as long as you enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and you spend your last semester in the UK with Student or Tier 4 immigration permission. We do not yet have full details of the Graduate Route -  up to date at Graduate route ("post-study work").

We have asked the Home Office to reconsider the requirement of entry to the UK by 6 April 2021. The guidance on this has not changed, in spite of the recent tightening of restrictions, including on travel.

USEFUL LINKS

UKCISA This website is one of the most reliable for International Students: UKCISA COVID 19 Information

In this section, we provide answers to some of the questions you are asking us. Please be aware that some education providers will have their own policies which might differ from our answers. We try to explain what the Home Office (UKVI) has published on its website, but you may need to contact the Home Office's Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre.

 

Take a look at Coronavirus advice for international students for comprehensive advice and guidance.

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