Latest Updates on UK Visas & Immigration

17 June 2020

Latest updates on UK Visas & Immigration and summary of key points on Tier 4 guidance for your reference.

Key updates:

  1. Graduate Route is confirmed for students graduating in summer 2021 and after.
  2. VACs closed but looking to open as soon as safe and sustainable to do so
  3. Tier 4 Guidance

Graduate Route

# The Graduate route is still scheduled to be launched in summer 2021, as previously announced.

# Any student who successfully completes their degree-level course at a qualifying institution and have Tier 4 leave in the summer of 2021 or after will benefit.

# This could include students who are already studying.

VAC Update

# As global travel and public health restrictions begin to lift, UKVI is beginning a phased approach to resuming services, where local conditions allow. Not all UKVI services will be available immediately, or at full capacity.

# Services will reopen initially in a small number of locations, where local restrictions allow. VACs will be opened when it is safe, and customers and staff are protected. Where public health and travel restrictions remain enforced by governments, or other criteria is not met, UKVI will not resume services.

# As VACs reopen, VACS will prioritise returning customer passports and completing applications. Whilst the VAC will work as efficiently as possible, there may be slight delays to normal service standards as they work through the applications delayed by COVID-19 restrictions. For applications in progress, their aim is to complete these as the relevant VACs re-open. There may be some delays as services restart, but they will prioritise the return of decisions and passports to customers in the first weeks of re-opening. For new applications, their aim is to assess applications within our normal service standards. As such, some delays may be experienced as services restart. Your patience is much appreciated.

# UKVI will not initially be offering priority or super priority services. Their focus is to deliver the services safely and effectively. All visa customers should be aware of new health measures at the UK border. These are in place to protect the public. Everyone, regardless of their nationality or visa status, should check GOV.UK to ensure they are aware of these new measures before travelling. We appreciate your patience as we start to resume our services.

Tier 4 Guidance:

Further, the Home Office has published guidance on GOV.UK on immigration provisions for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). Below you will find guidance on various issues of policy that affect international students. These include:

  1. Extending the Visa for customers in UK
  2. Students in UK
  3. Information on VAC and SELT Providers
  4. Students whose 30 day visa has expired
  5. Validity of CAS

Extending the Visa for Customers in UK

# No individual who is in the UK legally and whose visa expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 July, or is due to expire, will be regarded as an overstayer or   suffer any detriment in the future if they cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

# A visa will be extended to 31 July 2020 if an individual cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

# Individuals must update their records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) if their visa is expiring and were not planning to stay in the UK. The Coronavirus Immigration

Students in the UK

# New international students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but have been unable to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.

# New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but wish to commence 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.

# These arrangements apply initially until 31 July, by which date they will be reviewed.

# 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.

Students whose 30 day visa to work, study or join family has expired

# Students whose 30 day visa to travel to the UK has expired, or is about to expire, can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year.

# To make a request, students must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. The request must include the student’s name, nationality, date of birth and GWF reference number with ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ in the subject line. Students who have already contacted us about this must let us know in their email.

# Students will be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in their passport.

# Students will not be penalised for being unable collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) while coronavirus measures are in place.

# This process will be in place until the end of 2020.

Validity of CAS which have already been issued

# Tier 4 visa applications can still be made using CAS that were previously issued. The start date for the course may now be later than that stated on the CAS for the original course or the CAS may have expired. The Home Office will take a pragmatic approach to considering applications to study courses with significantly different start dates to those stated on CAS or expired CAS.

# Where the course date has changed, if the CAS is not marked as ‘used’ or ‘expired’ and is showing as ‘assigned’, sponsors must update the new course start date (if known) in the sponsor notes field. The information on the CAS will then be considered as normal when the case is decided.

# Where a CAS has become invalid because it has expired, or was marked as ‘used’ in an application and the student was unable to travel due to Covid-19, the Home Office will consider exceptionally accepting that CAS with a new visa application on a case by case basis. The CAS will be accepted if the caseworker is satisfied that the reason the student couldn’t previously use it in an application or travel to the UK was due to Covid-19.