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The basics
THE UK: Latest News

Frequently Asked Questions: Coronavirus & your UK visa

We know that given the current situation, being able to get clarity on critical issues affecting your studies is vital. The UK government has released new visa information. We help you find your way through with some FAQ.

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The UK government has published new information related to the visa application process, the status of visa holders and the functioning of the UK Home Office and UK Visa and Immigration Department in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. If you have applied to study in the UK, are in the process of applying for a UK visa, or hold a UK student visa you will likely have some key questions, which we are here to answer for you.


1. What does it mean for me if I have a student visa and am currently in the UK?


The UK government Home Office has put together guidelines for everybody who may be affected by travel restrictions at this time. Remember that if you are an international student who has come to the UK and hold a valid visa you have no reason for concern. This is even in the event that the visa is due to or has already expired.


The UK government will not penalise anyone for this in the context of the current situation.  You have the option of extending your visa until May 31st 2020 but it is essential that you contact the Home Office using their dedicated email address, CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.  You will need to provide your essential details including your full name, date of birth, nationality, visa details and the reason for your extension request.


2. I have a Tier 4 Student Visa and know there is a restriction for online learning while residing in the UK. Does this still apply?


A Tier 4 visa does ordinarily not allow you to undertake distance learning courses while residing in the UK. However, the UK government classes the current circumstances as exceptional and it is not considered a breach of the visa or sponsor conditions to study remotely. Your sponsorship will not be withdrawn as a result. If you have deferred or withdrawn from your studies you will need to undertake regular reporting procedures.


3. How will I get official confirmation of my status particularly as it relates to a visa extension?


If you are asked to provide evidence of your visa extension or want to apply for the extension it is recommended that you view the Coronavirus Immigration page. Remember that many online services and channels can still be accessed during this time.


4. How do I know that the Coronavirus Immigration Team process will work and is reliable?


The team has been constituted to provide support and advice for a wide variety of issues and have been equipped with a robust framework and procedure for operation. This includes a dedicated system for logging all cases and monitoring all communication and enquiries.


5. I have a valid visa and was planning to travel to the UK. What now?


It is strongly recommended that you check with your government as per the current travel restrictions in place. In general, these are updated on government websites and you will also be advised by local law enforcement and airlines. It is essential that you keep up to date on the situation in the UK by accessing the www.gov.uk website for critical and up to date information.


If you are in a region that has implemented travel restrictions you can also access resources and updates from the dedicated UK government coronavirus portal. If you have been granted a Tier 4 student visa and haven’t been able to travel to the UK, you will be allowed to learn online and this will not affect your sponsorship.


6. I have recently applied for my visa and had to surrender my passport to do so. How will I get it back?


Your first port of call would be the visa application centre/service provider through which you applied for the visa. They are best placed to advise as to the status of your application and the point to which it has been processed. This will affect the possible location of your passport. Where it is possible and local restrictions allow, passports that a locally held will be couriered back to applicants.


If your passport has been sent to the Home Office in the UK or you are worried about your passport you are encouraged to contact them using their dedicated email address CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. 


7. I’ve applied for a visa but would like to delay/cancel the process. How can I do this?


You can contact the UK Visa and Immigration Department directly to discuss the process. More information can be found by accessing the department website. Further, if you have used a local visa application centre or service provider you can contact them to find out what steps you will need to take.  Remember that many countries do have stringent restrictions in place and this may mean a delay in processing and the return of documents as well as paperwork.


8. Are visa application centres open at the moment?


A significant number of the visa application centres across the globe are currently closed or operating at reduced capacity. Limited services are likely to be available, however, you can still make enquiries and communicate with the centres and the UK Visa and Immigration Department should you have queries and questions.


9. I had a visa application appointment and interview. Will this still take place?


The UK government has advised that all visa application interviews are temporarily suspended until such time as it is safe to resume the process. You will likely receive correspondence to this effect in the event that you had an interview booked.


10. What about English testing centres?


The centres are subject to the laws and restrictions put in place by the local and national authorities where they are based. You can expect that there will be reduced operations and closures in numerous regions. Keep up to date with the situation by visiting the IELTS website.


11. How can I get the most reliable information for my region?


The UK government have a number of commercial partners globally who facilitate the visa application process. If you are based in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East you can visit the partner website for the region. For other countries around the world, you will need to get keep up to date using the UK government’s global partner website.

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