The Home Office has published a new guidance for Tier 4 sponsors, Tier 4 migrants and short-term students for those who cannot travel or in self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Extension of Tier 4 visa
If your Tier 4 student visa expires between 24th January 2020 and 31st May 2020, where you would normally need to submit an application outside the UK, you will be able to extend your visa inside the UK, if you cannot travel due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Please kindly note that you must meet all the relevant eligibility requirements. This includes students who need to extend their visas to complete their course, repeat a year, retake a module or for exam resits. The normal requirement to show academic progression will not apply.
Where a Tier 4 student is absent due to the COVID-19 crisis, sponsors do not need to report the absences and the Home Office will not take enforcement actions against such absences.
Furthermore, students who are undertaking remote learning or where they are absent due to the crisis, and as a result, they do not meet the requirements for recording physical contact points under sponsor’s duty, need not be reported for missing expected contact points. However, where it is possible to use online contact points, they should do so.
Although Tier 4 students are not allowed to take distance learning, the Home Office will allow an exception to this rule due to the pandemic. Thus, students can be offered distance learning in the UK or overseas.
Additionally, for Tier 4 students who have been issued a visa but are on distance learning as they cannot travel due to the pandemic, the sponsor does not need to withdraw their sponsorship. Please kindly note that new international students who have not applied for a visa but wish to undertake distance learning do not need to apply for a Tier 4 visa as they do not need to travel. These arrangements will be in place until 31st May 2020.
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) already assigned
For CAS that has already been issued, applicants can still use these for their visa applications. For course dates starting later than stated or where the date has expired, the Home Office will take a pragmatic approach when assessing them.
The Home Office will accept digital copies if it not practicable for the applicant to submit original documents due to the COVID 19 crisis.
If the SELT test centres are closed and the applicants are unable to take their English tests, sponsors who are higher education providers with a track record of compliance will be able self- assess students as having a CEFR level B1 in English. But this will apply where progression on to the main course is dependent upon passing the pre-sessional course.
Additionally, sponsors may still be able to self-assess the English level for their Tier 4 applicants where they do not have a track record of compliance and they have a pending registration with the Home Office. This self-assessment of English language must only be used when assigning CAS for the students and they cannot take the English test due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please kindly note that sponsors will need to make a sponsor note on the CAS.
Students will be able to commence their studies where they have applied to switch into Tier 4 in the UK, but their decisions are outstanding in specified circumstances.
You can read more about the Home Office guidance on Tier 4 sponsors and students via this link:
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