Covid-19 information for International Students

This page contains information that is relevant only to international students at Goldsmiths around Covid-19.

Primary page content

This page is for current students. There is a different page for applicants and new international students.

Visas

Extending your visa to stay in the UK

The Home Office announced on 22 May 2020 that visa nationals who cannot return to their home country due to the Covid-19 pandemic will be able to extend their visa from inside the UK.

They also stated the following:

  • Any individual who is currently in the UK legally, but whose visa expired or is due to expire between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, and cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions related to Covid-19, will not be regarded as an overstayer or be penalised for this in the future
  • 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 Covid-19. Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team to request an update to their record

If you have already left the UK this does not apply to you.

Contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team to get your record updated

You can do this yourself using the simple Home Office online form exceptionally introduced by the Home Office, for which there is no cost.

If you have already applied before 13 May 2020 but have not received a response from the Home Office, then, unfortunately, you will need to re-submit the form because the Home Office announced that they had experienced a technical difficulty with the previous online requests. This has now been resolved.

However, if you applied previously and received official notification from the Home Office extending your visa to 31 May 2020 and cannot leave the UK before 31 May 2020 due to issues around Covid-19, then you do not have to do anything else for now as the Home Office will automatically extend your visa to 31 July 2020. Please bear in mind you are still expected to leave the UK as soon as practicably possible.

If you would like us to complete the form for you, or if you require assistance, please complete our form to contact us.

If you then need a supporting letter to evidence this (for example with your landlord), you can contact us on immigration (@gold.ac.uk) to request this.

Submitting a new visa application inside the UK

If you have already submitted a new (paid for) visa application before your most recent visa expiry date, then you are permitted to remain living, working and benefitting from the same services in the UK as per the conditions of your last visa and can continue to do so until you have received an official outcome on your new visa application.

This is legally defined as having ‘3C leave’ and if employers would like to check your eligibility to work, they can do so via the Employer Checking Service.

Although the Home Office have not made this clear, it is expected that extensions separate to paid for visa extensions that are made under the coronavirus extension scheme will benefit from similar protection.

Applying for a different visa

In addition to the coronavirus visa extension scheme, the Home Office have made further concessions for those who planned to remain in the UK longer term but would normally need to make a visa application from their home country and unable to return there now due to travel restrictions or self-isolation. 

The good news is that you’ll now be able to apply from the UK to switch visas (so this means if you had planned to leave the UK to make a different visa application but can no longer do so because of coronavirus you can temporarily apply for that visa inside the UK- although you still need to be eligible for that visa category). 

You will still need to pay the visa application fee and meet the requirements in full at the time of your application.

Police registration

All UK police forces, including the Overseas Visitors Registration Office (OVRO) in London, have suspended police registration and issued guidance for applicants.

The advice for everyone is that you will not be penalised for not attending or making an appointment.

This includes people who have left the UK without registering, and who will need to re-enter in the future.

Check the website of your police force for updates.

Applying for a BRP Replacement

Due to coronavirus, many visa centres globally and inside the UK are temporarily shut.

The Home Office have confirmed that you can still submit a BRP Replacement application as normal, and that the closure of visa centres will not affect your application.

We have therefore made some changes to our processes to help you understand what you should do if you have lost your visa.

We update our webpages frequently, so you can check what you should do if you lose your visa inside the UK.

We can also help you if you lose your visa overseas.

Staying in the UK

Healthcare and treatment for Covid-19

NHS treatment for the Covid-19 is free of charge for everyone.

If you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and your immigration permission has not expired, you continue to be entitled to free NHS treatment for other illnesses and conditions up to 31 July 2020 (if your visa extension has been granted).

If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you can use it to receive free NHS treatment, at least until 31 December 2020.

If you request an extension under the coronavirus extension scheme you are considered to have a valid visa until you are advised otherwise by the UK government. This means that even if the expiry date on your visa has passed, if you have made use of the extension scheme you should be treated as having a valid visa if you need to access healthcare in the UK.

If you have any difficulties with this then you should contact us as soon as possible so we can advise you further.

Working in the UK

If you have been granted a visa extension to 31 July 2020, you are able to continue working in the UK as per the same conditions of your existing visa.

There is no longer a limit on the number of hours you can work or volunteer each week if you work (including voluntary work) for the NHS as a doctor, nurse or paramedic and you are a:

  • tier 4 student
  • tier 2 worker and your NHS job is a second job
  • visiting academic researcher
  • holder of a short-term visa and are permitted to volunteer

Renting accommodation

You are able to continue living in the UK in private rented accommodation if you have been granted the visa extension to 31 July 2020. As of 30 March 2020, the UK Government have made the following temporary changes as to how landlords can carry out rent checks:

  • checks on your visa status can now be carried out over video calls
  • tenants can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
  • landlords should use the Landlord’s Checking Service if a prospective or existing tenant cannot provide any of the existing documents.

If you experience any difficulties in remaining in or renting accommodation because of your visa status let us know and we may be able to write a supporting letter to help you.

Access to bank accounts

Whilst the Home Office have not explicitly published any guidance about continued access to services such as bank accounts, we would expect that you can still use your UK bank account up to 31 July 2020 if your visa extension has been granted.

If you do experience difficulties, contact us and we may be able to issue a supporting letter to help you.

Studying

Attending classes remotely

Now face-to-face teaching has been suspended, your academic department will ensure you can access any sessions remotely.

The general rule is that if a session takes place, you should engage with it. This does not mean you are required to physically attend sessions. You are not expected to engage with your studies in a different way just because you have a student visa.

Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake their studies via distance learning methods. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the Home Office will not consider it a breach of visa conditions for existing Tier 4 students to undertake their studies remotely in the UK or from overseas, and therefore universities are not required to withdraw visa sponsorship in these circumstances.

These arrangements apply initially until 31 July 2020, by which date they will be reviewed.

If you are unable to engage with your studies because of issues relating to Covid-19 (coronavirus), you should let your department know and they can then make sure any absences are recorded as ‘authorised’. This includes absences because you are unwell with Covid-19, a family member is unwell or you cannot take part in certain sessions because you are travelling home.

Your department should be in touch with your soon (if they have not already done so) to confirm what arrangements they have in place to help you continue your studies remotely.

Taking a formal break

If you want to take a formal break from your studies then see our page about the process.

Taking a formal break from your studies usually means that your student visa is cancelled. We would then help you apply for a new student visa when you plan to return to your studies.

You can contact us to discuss this if you have any questions about taking a break from study.

Leaving the UK

You must inform Goldsmiths

We know there are a lot of concerns about your ability to return to the UK at a later date if you return to your home country now.

Given that face-to-face teaching has been suspended, you do not need to remain in the UK and so you should try to make arrangements to return home as soon as you can if you are able to.

If you have any difficulties leaving the UK (for example, because of travel restrictions) then let us know as soon as possible by emailing immigration@gold.ac.uk. We will, of course, do everything we can to support you if this happens.

We have a legal obligation in relation to your visa and your wellbeing, so it is important for us to know where you are. Please let us know if you are leaving the UK, confirming:

  • your name
  • your student reference number
  • the date you plan to leave (or the date you left)
  • the date you plan to return if you know that now

Last updated 28 May