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.

Immigration update from the Home Office

The Home Office announced on 24 March 2020 that visa nationals who cannot return to their home country due to the Coronavirus 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 May 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 May 2020 if an individual cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19). Individuals must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team email to advise of their situation

We will be supporting students who are still enrolled at Goldsmiths and need to remain in the UK to complete your studies. Students who have already successfully completed their studies are welcome to follow the Home Office process by themselves, alternatively we can provide support by applying on your behalf if you prefer.

This is not a formal visa application that requires payment for, rather a simple email process exceptionally introduced by the Home Office. The Coronavirus Immigration Team need to be sent an email to CIH (@homeoffice.gov.uk) with the following details:

  • Your full name (include any middle names)
  • Date of Birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • Nationality
  • Your previous visa reference number
  • Reasons why you cannot go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

Once the Home Office have confirmed that your extension to 31 May 2020 has been granted and if you need a supporting letter to evidence this (for example with your landlord), you can contact us on immigration (@gold.ac.uk) to request this.

Please complete our online form which will capture the above information and we will then contact the Home Office on your behalf.

Applying for a different visa   

In addition to the temporary 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. 

Those students who do not have plans to remain in the UK longer term, or who are not eligible to apply for the exceptional extension to 31 May 2020, will have their visa automatically extended to 31 March 2020 only. 

Attending classes

Now face-to-face teaching has been suspended, your academic department is working to 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 May, 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.

Leaving the UK

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

Visa information

Your engagement on your programme will be recorded in the usual way whether you access a session inside the UK, overseas or remotely.

Continuing your studies

If you plan to continue your studies remotely then your visa status will not change. The UK Government has confirmed that we do not need to cancel or shorten your visa in these circumstances. We would like to reassure you that you are not required to attend face-to-face teaching or in person just because you have a student visa.

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.

Next steps

We know you are receiving a lot of information from different teams and places, so if anything is unclear please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

You can:

  • email immigration@gold.ac.uk (we usually reply on the same day and certainly within 24 hours)
  • book a virtual appointment with a member of the team these can be by phone, Skype or any other video calling software. If the appointments are fully booked you can email us to arrange one separately
  • call us on +44 (0)20 7896 2195 (between 9.30am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday)

Remember that we need you to let us know when you plan to leave the UK and that you should let your department know if you cannot take part in any remote activities including teaching.

Your student visa will not be cancelled if you leave the UK and want to carry on with your studies. We are here to help you as best we can throughout this difficult time.

We recommend that you keep checking the gold.ac.uk/covid-19 for more updates.


Last updated 27 March.