Home office is very clear about no one will have a negative outcome through the immigration system due to a Covid-19 that was beyond the control. With this temporary policy guidance sets out concessions for Tier 4 Students and Tier 4 Sponsors in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. This temporary concessions will all be kept under regular review and will be withdrawn once the situation get to normal.
a) Distance learning:
- Tier 4 students are normally not allowed to undertake distance learning. However, due to the Covid-19 exceptional circumstances, home office will allow students in the UK or overseas students those who wish to continue their current studies.
- New International students who have been issued with a Tier 4 visa but not been to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning.
- New International students who have not yet applied for a student visa but want to start a course can also undertake distant learning before travelling to the UK. They may either apply for a Tier 4 visa before their course starts or before they travel to the UK, either is acceptable.
- New international students outside the UK who have not yet applied for a visa but wish to begin a course by distance learning do not need to travel to
the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship under Tier 4.
- International students in the UK can also continue existing courses or commence new courses of study by distance learning. Distance learning will be permitted for the entirety of the 2020/21 academic year.
b) Applying for a Tier 4 student visa:
- Existing Tier 4 students, excluding those awaiting a decision on an Administrative Review of a previous application, will be able to apply exceptionally for further leave to remain within the UK, before the expiry of their current visa expiry, or, if their leave expired between 24 January and 31 August and they were granted an extension, by 31 August, or by 1 October if they have been issued ‘exceptional indemnity’ by the Coronavirus Immigration Team.
- To be granted further leave students must still need to meet all other requirements of Tier 4, including academic progression and maintenance requirements. Students must normally apply to study on a course that commences no more than 28 days after their current leave expires, but home office will exercise discretion on this requirement if the start date of the new course named on the CAS is no later than 31 December 2020. This concession applies to students who already hold Tier 4 visa.
- Students who are unable to complete their course of study within their current period of leave due to Covid-19 can apply in country to complete that course. This includes students who need further time to complete an assessment or sit examinations. Students who need to repeat a year, retake a module, or resit an exam are exempt from demonstrating academic progression as would normally be the case for those applying in the UK. Further to this exemption, students who otherwise need more time to complete a course as a result of Covid-19 will be exempt from demonstrating academic progression due to suspension of studies initiated from the educational institution for the duration of any social distancing measures.
- Students whose leave expired between 24 January and 31 August, or who need to make a new application, and would normally be unable to demonstrate academic progression because their new course is at the same level as the previous one, or because they had been undertaking an integrated Masters or PhD/MPhil but will be continuing with the lower level qualification, but who cannot travel overseas to make an application due to Covid-19, will be exempted from the academic progression requirement if the sponsor confirms on the CAS that the previous course and the new course in combination support the applicant’s genuine career aspirations. This concession will apply to courses with a start date before 31 December 2020.
- Students applying to study a new course can commence study at the institution from the date of the application. Students must obtain a valid ATAS certificate before they commence their studies, if one is required for their course of studies.
c) Police registration:
- Tier 4 students who are required to register with the police as a condition of your visa grant of leave, or who need to notify the police of a change of circumstances, should check with their local police force whether it is possible to register with them at this time. Where it is not possible, students must register with the police or update their information once social distancing measures are lifted.
- Students who have already registered with the police and are making a new application in the UK should submit their Police Registration Certificate along with any other documents in support of their application as normal.
d) Working hours permitted per week:
- Tier 4 students who are employed by an NHS trust within any of the professions listed below, will not be restricted to 20 hours work per week during term time and may work without limit on the number of hours permitted:
• biological scientist
• dental practitioner
• health professional
• medical practitioner
• medical radiographer
• occupational therapist
• social worker
• speech and language therapist
• therapy professional
- Tier 4 students with work rights whose sponsor suspends all study on their course as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak will be considered to be in vacation time and so will be permitted to work full-time during this period.
- Where a Tier 4 sponsor is providing tuition by distance learning, their students will be considered to be within term-time and will be limited to the term-time work hours stated on their visa.
Source: UK Home Office