It is evident that the coronavirus crisis has caused confusion to people, among which, international students in the UK are also affected. Since classes have been moved online, numerous students have returned back to their home countries to face this challenging time. Many are even experiencing financial and accommodation difficulties as they have lost their jobs and student halls have closed.
Students on a Tier 4 Visa in the UK have been wondering whether coronavirus and remote classes will affect the validity of their visa. In this article, we have explained everything you need to know about visa validity and the impact of coronavirus on international students in the UK.
What Do Remote Classes Mean for My Tier 4 Visa?
Numerous international students have returned home during the past weeks to be with their families. If you’re one of these students and you are worried about your Tier 4 visa, then you should know that your visa will still be valid even if you take up remote classes. You will still be meeting the conditions of the visa if you take part in online study, and you will be able to return to your classroom once the pandemic is over.
Many UK universities will require you to fill a form where you specify your intention to study online from your home. You will be required to fill in this form even if you plan to stay in the UK. You will find the form on the website of your respective university. The Government has announced that universities will continue to sponsor you even while classes are being held remotely.
In order to continue to fulfil the conditions of your visa, you should be engaged in your online studies and meet deadlines set by the university. You must also be ready to return to the UK once your university announces you can. In case you have already returned to the UK, make sure you fulfil all the abovementioned requirements so your visa is not affected.
If you are not able to attend your online classes or return to the UK to proceed with in-person teaching, you should contact your university for guidance.
Will My Tier 4 Visa Be Valid If I Return to My Home Country?
Returning to your home country as a result of coronavirus will not negatively impact your current Tier 4 visa. You will be required to complete an absence form and contact the visa team at your university so they can instruct you on the steps you should take and the information you should provide before you leave. The visa compliance team at your university might ask you for the following details:
- Date of departure and return.
- Travel details, like flight number or airline.
- The reason you are leaving the UK.
Each university has its own inquiries, however, these are the most common details you will be asked to provide. You must inform your university so your sponsorship under the Tier 4 visa category continues to be valid.
Will I Be Allowed to Enter the UK After the Pandemic on My Tier 4 Visa?
You will be allowed to enter the UK after the pandemic if you have informed your university about your departure as well as given them the necessary information. So if you have informed your university as well as the visa compliance team at your university about the details of your travel, your visa will still be valid for entrance.
What If My Visa Is Set to Expire During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
If your visa is set to expire between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, it will be extended to 31 July 2020 if you are unable to leave the UK due to travel restrictions or self-isolation as a result of coronavirus. (Find more information regarding coronavirus for international students here).
Due to the current coronavirus situation, you may also apply to stay in the UK long-term from the UK until 31 July 2020. Previously, you would be required to return to your home country and submit an application. You will, however, be required to meet the requirements of the route as well as pay the application fee.
If you have extended your visa to 31 May 2020 previously, it will be automatically extended to 31 July 2020.
This article is updated to meet the changes made by the Government. The extended date of the visa has been updated from 31 May 2020 to 31 July 2020 as per the announcement of the Home Office.
I Am Waiting for a Decision on My Tier 4 Visa Application. What Should I Do?
If you have applied for your Tier 4 visa and you still have not gotten an answer, the government has announced that you can begin your course of study if you meet the requirements below:
- If your sponsor is a Tier 4 sponsor.
- If you have evidence that shows that you have applied for your visa before the current one expired.
- If you have received a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS).
- If the course you’re about to start is the same as the one listed in your CAS.
- If you have a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate (when applicable).
You must remember that in case your visa is finally processed and your application is rejected, then you must drop your course or study programme.
Has Anything Changed for My Tier 4 Visa as a Result of Coronavirus?
In addition to the above-mentioned factors, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there is no longer a limit of the number of hours you can work or volunteer per week if you work for the NHS as a doctor, nurse, or paramedic. This is the case not only for those under a Tier 4 visa but also if you are a Tier 2 worker and your NHS job is a second job, if you’re a visiting academic researcher, or holder of a short-term visa and are authorised to volunteer.
We have also answered a few other questions you might have as a current or potential international student in the UK in the articles below: