Coronavirus (Covid-19): info for international students

Last modified: 24 February 2020

This is an evolving situation and UKCISA continues to work with the UK government and local public health authorities to distribute appropriate guidance to UK international students.

Updates from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

Last modified: 24 February 2020

The UK government has now released immigration guidance for Chinese nationals, and others, affected by the Coronavirus travel restrictions. It was published by the Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) on 17 February 2020.

A Coronavirus Immigration Helpline, and email address, also went live on 18 February 2020, for immigration enquiries related only to Coronavirus:

  • Telephone: 0800 678 1767, open 9.00am to 5.00pm. Calls are free of charge;
  • Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.

The government webpage provides information for Chinese nationals in the UK whose visa has recently expired or is about to expire. It states:

"If you are a Chinese national in the UK and have been compliant with the conditions of your visa prior to the coronavirus outbreak, your leave will be automatically extended to 31 March 2020 if your visa has an expiry date between 24 January 2020 and 30 March 2020.

You don’t need to do anything to get this extension.

You will be subject to the same immigration conditions as your last visa during the extension period.

You will not automatically receive a new visa or Biometric Residence Permit card.

Your new expiry date (31 March 2020) will be added to UK Visas and Immigration’s systems.

If you need a status letter confirming this extension, or a new Biometric Residence Permit with a revised expiry date, you should contact the coronavirus immigration helpline.

If you have already applied to extend your visa you don’t need to do anything.

If you are intending to apply to extend your stay in the UK before 31 March 2020 you should continue to do so."

Similar provisions are in place for non-Chinese and non-EEA nationals who are in the UK but who are normally resident in China.

Further guidance is also provided for:

  • those switching to a Tier 2 category in the UK
  • British nationals whose passport is at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in China
  • Chinese or third country nationals whose passport is at a VAC in China

Finally, Tier 4 sponsors have been given assurances about how to manage student absences due to the virus:

"Some Tier 4 students or Tier 2/5 employees may be prevented from attending their studies or employment due to illness, the need to serve a period of quarantine or the inability to travel due to travel restrictions caused by coronavirus.

"Sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus which they have authorised.

"Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship if they consider there are exceptional circumstances when:

  • a student will be unable to attend for more than 60 days
  • an employee is absent from work without pay for four weeks or more

"Decisions on whether to withdraw a student from their studies or terminate an employment are for sponsors to make. The Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against students or employees who are unable to attend their studies/work due to the coronavirus outbreak, or against sponsors which authorise absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason.

"The Home Office will keep this under review, especially if the length of absences mean a potential repeat of period of studies become necessary."

We understand that the Home Office and UKVI will continue to monitor the situation and will assess if operational guidance or policy will require further updates in the longer term.

Updates from the Department for Education (DfE)

Last modified: 04 February 2020

Coronavirus – Advice for Higher Education Institutions

The government is closely monitoring the spread of the Coronavirus, and is taking action at home and abroad. The overall risk of Coronavirus to the UK remains moderate. However, we understand that people may be concerned where there are children, students or staff returning from or visiting China.

Public Health England and the Foreign Office have issued advice for anyone considering travel to the area. This can be found on the gov.uk webpages:

The government public health advice remains as following:

Travellers from Wuhan and Hubei Province

If you have travelled from Wuhan or Hubei Province to the UK in the last 14 days you should immediately:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
  • call NHS 111, NHS 24, NHS Direct Wales or relevant helpline as applicable for advice.

Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.

Travellers from elsewhere in mainland China

If you have travelled from elsewhere in mainland China to the UK in the last 14 days and develop symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath, you should immediately:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
  • call NHS 111, NHS 24, NHS Direct Wales or relevant helpline as applicable for advice.

If based on the above you are advised to self-isolate, you can find specific guidance regarding self-isolation:

General support for international students

Last modified: 07 February 2020

We understand that some students may be concerned about friends and family members in China, or be experiencing feelings of isolation. For more general support, students should contact their institution’s wellbeing support services, their students’ union, or phone UKCISA’s Student Advice Line on +442077889214 (1–4pm UK time, Monday–Friday).

Below is a joint statement from Universities UK International, Universities UK and the UK Council for International Student Affairs on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese staff and students at UK universities.

The health, welfare and safety of students and staff is the top priority for university leaders following the Coronavirus outbreak. UK universities have been supporting all students and staff who might be concerned about their health with up-to-date advice from health services. Our universities have a strong history of welcoming Chinese students and staff to the UK and they are very much part of our international community. UK universities will not tolerate racism in any form, and we encourage students and staff to report any incident of racial harassment and seek support from their university.

We understand that students and staff may be worried about friends and family members in China and our thoughts go to all those affected by this situation. At this difficult time, we ask that students and staff support their fellow friends and colleagues in solidarity with the whole of the international higher education community.

For more general support, students should contact their institution’s wellbeing support services, or phone UKCISA’s Student Advice Line on +442077889214 (1–4pm UK time, Monday–Friday).

联合声明:英国大学联盟(Universities UK)和英国国际学生事务委员会(UK Council for International Student Affairs)针对新型冠状病毒疫情对中国学生影响的声明。

在新型冠状病毒的疫情爆发后,保证学生和教职员工的健康、福利和安全是大学高层的当务之急。英国众高校已经并不断向所有关心担忧自己健康的学生,提供来自健康服务权威机构的最新建议。

英国大学一直秉承延续对中国留学生友好亲善的历史,中国学生是我们国际教育共同体的重要组成部分。英国大学不会接受容忍任何形式上的种族主义的歧视和偏见;我们支持并鼓励学生和教职员工,如遇到种族歧视和骚扰的相关事件,请及时向所在大学有关部门寻求帮助。

我们深知有些学生在此刻非常牵挂在中国的朋友和家人,我们会在精神上支持所有受到疫情影响的人。在这个困难的时刻,我们呼吁英国所有学生和教职员工共克时艰,声援和帮助受影响的朋友和同事。

如果学生需要更多支持和帮助,请联系所在大学的相关部门,或致电英国国际学生事务委员会的学生咨询热线(英国时间星期一至星期五下午1-4点之间。


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